Historic Maison Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine being restored in downtown Montreal
MONTREAL -- A long-abandoned piece of Canadian history has undergone a major facelift.
A group of developers decided to restore the former house of Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine that has sat unused for years in Montreal's downtown.
Lafontaine is regarded as Canda's first pre-confederation prime minister and led the first parliament of Upper and Lower Canada.
"It's a high place of history, of Canadian history and a significant piece of architectural heritage for Montreal," said Montreal city councillor Anne-Marie Sigouin.
In 1849, angry Anglophone merchants rioted in front of Lafontaine's home after burning down the parliament in Old Montreal.
"Some of those stones still show the bullets that were shot at the house," said Robert Turgeon of Heritage Montreal.
After years of sitting idle, abandoned to the elements, restoring the home was no easy feat.
"At one point the house started to sink into the ground so we had to reinforce very quickly the structure temporarily until we were going to do the restoration," said architect Anik Shooner.
Every stone had to be meticulously cleaned and then put back into place, a project that cost about $6.5 million.
"The first decision that we had to make was to what year are we going to restore the house?" said Shooner. "Is it when it was a townhouse with one more storey and a mansard as a roof, or do we go back to the life of Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine? We decided to go there."
The home was purchased by the developers who also bought the land and are building sky-scraper condo towers and town houses nearby.
"We had to restore the home not necessarily to the glory that we restored it to, but we had to do something to the house as part of the construction permit deal for the remainder of the project," said Brivia Group vice-president Fernando Bucci.
The interior of the building is unfinished, but the home is expected to be placed on the market.
It is unclear what its new vocation will be, but for now, historians and Montrealers are happy to see the once decaying piece of history finally being restored.