Volume 94, Issue 40

Thursday, November 9, 2000


Mayoral candidates duke it out at Western

USC discusses stance on student code

Tories in hot water over MPP raise

Campus Briefs

Locust Mount gutted in fire

Hot Air

Operation "Back Rub" nets 36 arrests for LPD

Planet Me

Locust Mount gutted in fire

By Mike Murphy and Aaron Wherry
Gazette Staff

A suspicious weekend fire that caused serious damage to a historic London home, has kindled interest in restoring the building among City Hall members.

"Locust Mount," the 19th century Talbot St. home that blazed and belched smoke for blocks around this past Saturday, was one of the first mansions built in London, said Chris Nelson, the City's heritage planner.

"It is not yet designated under the Ontario Heritage Act," she said, adding this Monday night the London Advisory Committee on Heritage requested that civic administration meet with the home's current owners to initiate the process of designation under the Heritage Act.

Designation provides tax incentives and loans to help the owner with the upkeep of the building, Nelson said. "It provides an incentive for owners to maintain their buildings."

According to Const. Ryan Holland, media relations officer for the London Police, the Saturday afternoon fire has been deemed suspicious and is currently under investigation.

Holland said large numbers of firefighters were needed to douse the blaze, which caused damages of over $250,000 to the house, which had been vacant since July.

While the investigation is underway, no real headway has yet been made, he said. "Police don't have any suspects and are seeking the public's assistance," he said.

The building has a rich history and was home to a prominent local politician, Nelson explained. "The Locust Mount house belonged to the mayor of London in the 1860s, Elijah Leonard, who was a wealthy industrialist," she said adding Leonard was also a Canadian senator until his death in the 1890s.

Rob Alder, Ward 2 councillor, said he considers Locust Mount an invaluable historical site and supports city involvement in restoring the building. "We're basically into it already," he said of the process to bring about restoration.

"This is a wonderful building. It's got a significant heritage value to it," he added. "If it is arson then, by gosh, whoever it is needs to be found and stung."

Ward 7 councillor Gord Hume said he also supports the plan, but is still waiting to hear what the exact cost of the fire's damages were and what the building's owners, Drewlo Holdings, intend to do.

Hume said if the building cannot be used as a residential dwelling, then he would like to see it used for another purpose that would allow its architecture to be preserved.

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