Request to tear down part of Bishop’s House

Brenda Baxter, president of the Glengarry Fencibles Trust, makes a presentation to South Glengarry council on Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2018. Baxter's group is asking for a demolition permit to take down some later additions to the historic Bishop's House in St. Raphael's, Ont. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

LANCASTER – The group behind saving the historic Bishop’s House, east of Martintown, is asking the township for permission to tear down part of the building.

“This is a very ironic position I’m in because three years ago, as a group, Glengarry Fencibles Trust was arguing very passionately to save the Bishop’s House and here I am to request a demolition permit for part of the house,” President Brenda Baxter told council last week.

The Bishop’s House of Glengarry, at the St. Raphael’s Ruins, is considered one of the oldest and most historic buildings in Ontario, built in 1808 for Rev. Alexander Macdonell – later the first bishop of Ontario.

The demolition permit would focus on tearing down “dilapidated, poorly designed additions” at the rear of the building while maintaining the 210-year-old house and the stone wings.

The additions were built in 1939 and have little historic value, Baxter explained.

The demolition was recommended by their architect because the newer sections are allowing water into the foundation of the main building.

Baxter said the work is about to begin, likely this week, on restoring the veranda on the front of the building.

If approved, the demolition would happen this fall and would take 3-4 days, Baxter said.

The Glengarry Fencibles Trust has also received a $4,000 grant for a sign on the property, she told councillors.

Since it’s a historic site, the recommendation has to go to the township heritage committee for their endorsement before it comes back to council for final approval in September.