Ridley Hall: Neglecting Built Heritage
Ridley Hall is a sad reminder of what happens when our built heritage is neglected and forgotten. Even though it is located within the Harbour Grace Historical District the outer walls are all that remains intact of this historic building.
The house was built in 1834 by prominent fishing/sealing merchant, Thomas Ridley. The structure was built from local “bluestone” and originally possessed a slate gable roof with chimneys on each end. The house is placed on a T-shaped foundation and comprised of a two story bay at the front. Ridley Halls interior once reflected its high class style complete with extravagant staircases, expensive furniture and even a large ballroom that was located at the rear of the building. It’s a classic example of the unique stone structures that were built by the wealthy at the time and is a symbol for the high class society that Harbour Grace once possessed.
The house had many uses during its lifetime. During the mid to late 1800s, it was the setting of glamorous balls and parties put off by the Ridley family. After losing his business in 1873 due to bankruptcy, Thomas Ridley was no longer able to maintain the house. However, it wasn’t until after the Bank Crash in 1894 that the house was sold. During the 1930s and 1940s, the building was used by the Cable and Wireless Ltd. Company as a cable station. After this, the house was once again made into a private residence until the 1980s when it was left vacant.
The two story house was registered as a heritage structure in 1994 but remained vacant while awaiting restoration. However, nearly ten years later in 2003, a devastating fire destroyed the roof and interior of the building, leaving it in the condition you see today.
Sources & Further Exploring
Heritage Newfoundland and Labrador (2004, June). Ridley Hall (Harbour Grace). Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web Site. Found at http://www.heritage.nf.ca/articles/society/ridley-hall.php
Parks Canada (n.d.) Ridley Hall Ruins Registered Heritage Structure. Canada’s Historic Places Website. Found at http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=8582