Century-old building faces demolition
The crumbling building on Sixth Avenue is generally known as ‘The Shanty”.
Photo by Dan Davidson
DAYS NUMBERED – The Shanty in Dawson City was originally built and owned by Joseph Ladue during or just after the Gold Rush.
DAWSON CITY – The crumbling building on Sixth Avenue is generally known as ‘The Shanty”.
It’s listed in the Yukon Historic Sites Inventory as having been built between 1896 and 1905, and was originally owned by Dawson City’s founder, Joe Ladue.
Being well past 40 years of age, it is one of those historic buildings that falls under the purview of the City of Dawson’s Zoning and Heritage Management Bylaw. It states that such buildings may be demolished “only in exceptional circumstances.”
The owner of the building and the two lots on which it sits, Zlatko Fras, approached town council last Wednesday to request that council recognize that there are exceptional circumstances related to this building. He asked for permission to look into getting a demolition permit for the structure.
“This building has been uninhabited for many years,” Fras wrote in his submission to council.
“(It) is in an unsafe condition and is often the target of illegal squatting activity.”
Members of the town’s heritage advisory committee have examined the building. They agree it would take “an unreasonable amount of money to restore it.”
Fras obtained an estimate from Jim Williams Construction that it would cost up to $164,000 to restore the building to a useful state.
That would include reframing the floor, walls ceilings, foundation work and portions of the roof.
In addition, the building would require insulation, wiring, plumbing and a great deal of interior finishing work.
Fras estimates about 70 per cent of the wood in the building could not be salvaged.
Mayor Peter Jenkins joked that reconstruction would probably be on the order of saving the chimney cap and constructing a new building underneath it.
There was some discussion around the council table as to whether the building could be moved.
Fras offered to donate the building to the town if that was something the town wanted to take on.
He does, however, want to get it off the property one way on another, and intends to construct a new dwelling, one which will incorporate some of the design elements from this building, on the site.
Any new building would likely be larger than the rambling 700-square-foot Shanty, which is one of those buildings that seems to have grown out in several directions from an original core structure.
In the end, there was general agreement that the cost and condition of the Shanty do, in fact, constitute an exceptional circumstance and that Fras could begin the process of applying to demolish the building.
The permit is not yet a done deal. The town is still looking for an estimate on what it would cost to relocate the Shanty, or if that is indeed possible at all.
Fras is still open to having the building moved if someone wants to take that on.