Anger over the demolition of Saint John’s Jellybean Houses has led to the creation of a new citizens group.
Tentatively called Heritage Saint John, group members hope to educate and advocate on behalf of the city’s historic architecture.
“The city is in dire need of somebody to protect and preserve these properties,” said Chris Osborne, the group’s acting chair.
“We’re seeing tourists coming here and love looking at our heritage buildings. We see locals saying ‘Oh my god! We’ve lost another one.'”
Advocate for historic buildings
The Jellybean Houses were three matching 1860s era buildings on Wellington Row in the city’s uptown.
They were demolished in April to make way for a mixed-income apartment building to be developed by Saint John Non-Profit Housing.
Osborne said the organization will advocate for historic buildings in all parts of the city, both inside and outside of designated heritage areas.
The group is now creating an executive and setting up committees for agenda items such as advocacy and salvage.
“In my personal opinion we were once one of the national leaders on the whole concept of heritage promotion and preservation,” said Harold Wright, a member of the group.
“I think we have lost that over the past number of years.”
Wright was active in a previous group, also called Heritage Saint John, which disbanded about five years ago.
‘I find it quite encouraging that people are participating in the democratic process and are starting to say ‘look, you have your dreams, you have your vision for Saint John, well we have ours too.”
– Jim Bezanson, former city heritage officer
But now there is renewed interest in this kind of advocacy, said Jim Bezanson, a former city heritage officer who sits on a committee charged with finding people to hold executive positions with the group.