Commercial Cable Building soon to be demolished

Rehabilitation Society decided on demolition in 2014

By Helen Murphy    

HAZEL HILL – The decision to demolish the historic Commercial Cable Building in Hazel Hill was made three years ago, but the cost of doing so has been beyond the resources of the Commercial Cable Rehabilitation Society. Now ownership is transferring from the community group to the Municipality of the District of Guysborough, which will contract the demolition.

The society was supported by municipal, provincial and federal funding over 10 years as it worked to find a way to save and restore the historic Commercial Cable Building. But back in 2014 it was determined that an anchor tenant could not be found for a restored structure. Partners could not be secured to help fund the restoration and operation of the structure as an historic landmark. And the deteriorating state of the building required urgent attention.

With the upcoming demolition, the foundation will be retained. There is interest in developing some kind of interpretative site there in the future to share the rich history of the structure.

MODG plans to carry out the demolition once the transfer paperwork is complete. The municipality provided $150,000 in funding to the Rehabilitation Society nine years ago to support its efforts. In addition, ACOA provided more than $200,000 and the province contributed $50,000 to the society for project management, marketing and professional engineering services.

The Commercial Cable station was constructed in 1888 and at the time was at the forefront of a communications revolution. It was one of the largest cable relay stations in the world and housed some of the most technologically advanced equipment available. Nine thousand miles of cable carried news of world events and communications between Europe and North America faster than by any other means. The Hazel Hill station closed in 1962.

Engineering studies have pointed to the urgent need to address the deterioration of the building.

“It has to be done,” MODG Warden Vernon Pitts said of the demolition. “It’s a danger now.”

Pitts said the municipality was fully engaged with the society over its 10 years of work.

“It was positive. We were looking at it positively.”

A specialized firm will have to be brought in because of hazards at the site including asbestos and lead paint.

Pitts says he sees the value in establishing some kind of interpretative site in the future to share the Commercial Cable story. “I think it’s imperative that we look at doing something down the road.”