City and Owner Collaborate to Save Historic Lemont Building

City Will Explore Possible Heritage Designation

The City of Fredericton will take ownership of the historic Lemont Building, ensuring it remains an architectural highlight of the downtown for generations to come.

The City’s acquisition of the 2 ½-storey brick Second Empire style building at the lower end of Regent St is part of a settlement of a civil lawsuit filed by Aquilini Properties LP, owner of the nearby Hilton Garden Inn. The exact terms of the settlement are sealed as per agreement between the parties.

“Fredericton is rich in heritage, and the Lemont Building is one of the more significant historical structures in our downtown,” said Coun. Jason LeJeune, Chair of the City’s Economic Vitality committee. “Residents have made it clear that heritage buildings are important to them, and we agree. That’s why we’re so pleased to have been able to rescue this great building.”

As the Lemont Building has stood empty for a number of years, the City did its due diligence to ensure that it’s structurally sound and viable in terms of future development prior to acquiring it, Mr. LeJeune explained.

“The Lemont Building has great potential which, combined with its location in Fredericton’s beautiful downtown, will no doubt make it attractive to smart and discerning developers,” said Walther Lauffer, Vice President, Hospitality, Aquilini Properties LP. “We’re very pleased to have collaborated with our partners at the City of Fredericton to arrive at this positive conclusion.”

Staff to Recommend Heritage Designation

Council has directed that staff prepare a report providing an analysis and recommendation respecting potential heritage designation for the Lemont Building. Juan Estepa, the City’s Manager of Heritage and Urban Design explained that once a building has received a heritage designation, any future alterations to the exterior of the building must be reviewed and approved by the City’s Preservation Review Board.

“We always strive to achieve a balance between growth and the respect and preservation of Fredericton’s heritage,” said Ken Forrest, Director of Planning and Development. “With the Lemont Building, the first step was securing it and the second step will be considering heritage designation for the building.  After that, the City will seek a purchaser for the property that proposes a land use appropriate for the building.  The City will welcome proposals that advance the vision for the downtown in the City Centre Plan.  Any land use approvals that are required as a result will be considered through the zoning process.”

More about the Lemont Building

Within view of Officers’ Square and adjacent to the Historic Garrison District, the Lemont Building’s heritage value is associated with its design style, the significance of its earliest known owner, and 20th century use as a community cultural centre. William Lemont, son of variety store merchant Martin Lemont, was one of the earliest known owner/occupants of this house, taking up residency by 1887.[1] William Lemont entered the family business at age 14, and remained in the trade for more than 50 years.[2]

William Lemont’s son, W.B. Lemont resided in this house until the 1940s. In 1949, it was proposed to convert the Lemont Building into a community centre, containing space for the York-Sunbury Historical Society Museum, a reading room for young men, the Fredericton Art Club, The Victorian Order of Nurses and the Children’s Aid Society. A bequest of $60,000 from the Hon. W.G. Clark estate, probated in April 1948, was granted to the York-Sunbury Historical Society for a museum. The will indicated that a building, either built or purchased, be named in honour of his son, John Thurston Clark.[3]

In 1949, the former Lemont Building became known as the John Thurston Clark Memorial Building. Ten years later, the Province approached the City of Fredericton for a building exchange, swapping ownership of the Customs House for the John Thurston Clark Memorial Building. As soon as the deal was struck, the name of the swapped buildings also changed, with “Lemont” being restored to the building at 605 Queen Street.[4]

The character-defining elements associated with the Second Empire style building at 605 Queen Street include:

  • 2 ½-storey brick construction
  • Second Empire style elements, including Mansard roof
  • Heavy hooded, rounded window openings inset into Mansard roof line
  • Large window openings on lower storeys of building

[1] RS 419, Records of the Fredericton Municipality, Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, Taxation Roll, 1887.

[2] The Capital, 15 December 1881, Thursday, p. 3 “Among the Merchants”; The Daily Gleaner, 15 November 1917, Thursday, p. 12 “William Lemont Dies at the Home of Son in Alabama”.

[3] RS 310, Historic Sites Branch Records, PANB, Minutes of the Military Compound Board, 8 April 1976.

[4] RS 310, Historic Sites Branch Records, PANB, Minutes of the Military Compound Board, 8 April 1976; The Daily Gleaner, 8 August 1959, Saturday, p. 1-2 “Province, Fredericton Exchange 3 Properties.