King George condos celebrate opening

Development

James McLeod jmcleod@thetelegram.com
Published on June 23, 2009
Lt.-Gov. John Crosbie gestures toward a newly unveiled reproduction of a portrait of King George V in the lobby of the building named after the deceased monarch on Water Street Monday. The former hospice has been converted to condominiums.- Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

It was 98 years to the day from when King George V laid the corner stone of the St. John's building that bears his name, and at the opening of the condominium project on Water Street, everyone was very aware of it.

Years since the project was first conceived, Lt.-Gov. John Crosbie and St. John's Mayor Dennis O'Keefe congratulated developers Rex Anthony, Guido Del Rizzo and Leo Power for restoring the historic building to prominence.

It was 98 years to the day from when King George V laid the corner stone of the St. John's building that bears his name, and at the opening of the condominium project on Water Street, everyone was very aware of it.

Years since the project was first conceived, Lt.-Gov. John Crosbie and St. John's Mayor Dennis O'Keefe congratulated developers Rex Anthony, Guido Del Rizzo and Leo Power for restoring the historic building to prominence.

"It's been a labour of love, but we're very happy it's coming to an end," Power said. "We were in love with this building and the historic value."

Originally built as a hospice for seamen by Sir Wilfred Grenfell, the building is now filled with luxury condominiums.

Two years short of a century ago, as part of his coronation, King George V laid the cornerstone on his coronation day "through the agency of an electric current from Buckingham Palace," according to a news release.

In the 1930s, it contained offices for the pre-confederation Newfound-land government, during the Second World War it housed American soldiers; at various times it also had post-Confederation government offices and offices for the country of Portugal, when Portuguese ships of the white fleet were commonplace in St. John's harbour.

"If you were to track the history of Newfoundland and Labrador in the 20th century, then you would actually be tracking the history of this building," O'Keefe said. "You just connect the dots, you know?"

O'Keefe was upbeat about the city's future, with the developers making it "greater than it was when it was opened here nearly a hundred years ago."

But when they took possession of the building, it was in a sorry state.

"The building had been derelict for almost a decade, so when we took possession, there was a huge amount of damage in the interior of the building," Power said. "We were fortunate that we could restore virtually 100 per cent of the exterior facade, and all the original brick work of course remains intact."

jmcleod@thetelegram.com