It is one of the city’s oldest buildings, a magnificent piece of architecture with a dark past.
Century Manor is the last physical reminder of Hamilton’s asylum for the insane. Abandoned long ago, the building has fallen into disrepair. But a local heritage group has set out to save the mansion before it’s too late.
“It’s important to save it because it’s an important part of our history.”
Pat Saunders is talking about Century Manor, one of Hamilton’s oldest buildings and one of Canada’s most impressive examples of Victorian gothic architecture.
Built in 1884, Century Manor is the last remaining building of Hamilton’s infamous asylum for the insane.
Spread across five hundred acres of land, the asylum housed and treated hundreds of mentally ill people for over a century.
Today, Century Manor is the responsibility of the province. Long abandoned, the three-story mansion has fallen into disrepair. It’s windows are boarded up, it’s railings rusted, it’s majestic columns are crumbling.
And that concerns Saunders: “They are now denying us entry based on considering the building to be structurally unsafe. I challenge that how did the building become structurally unsafe. We have paid a property management company to look after it. What conditions allowed it to deteriorate other than you haven’t looked after it well enough.”
Saunders believes the building can be saved without taxing the taxpayer. She says more and more heritage buildings are being developed in joint public and private partnerships: “Often heritage is considered to be a liability as opposed to an asset which I think we are now starting to demonstrate can be. So here we have one institution on one corner that’s going through that process In terms of inviting proposals of how Auchmar can be used and a block away another institution sitting empty that could provide the same opportunity.
Saunders is hoping mounting public interest and pressure will convince government officials it’s step in before it’s too late to save a part of Hamilton history.