The keys to a historic building in the heart of downtown Ladysmith are in the hands of new owners after the Traveller’s Hotel officially sold late last month.
RE/MAX Ocean Pointe realtor Wes Smith confirmed to the Chronicle on Wednesday that following weeks of negotiations a father and son from Vancouver will now work to revive the three-storey Edwardian era building.
“It’s very unique,” said Smith. “I’m just glad it’s going to be somebody who’s going to put it back to its original intention.”
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The Traveller’s Hotel was built in 1913 by Annie and Chris Stevens and is listed on the Canadian Registry of Historic Places as well as on the town’s own Heritage Inventory.
While in its prime being home to one of the largest pubs on the west coast, the bar has been abandoned for the past 13 years while the upstairs hasn’t been utilized in two decades.
The father and son, a master chef and who has spent time working in Asia, have discussed the possibility of creating a restaurant on the bottom floor and a boutique hotel upstairs.
Smith estimates that the building was shown upwards of 200 times over the six years as potential buyers shared their visions for the Traveller’s.
“Someone came through looking at putting a museum in there, somebody was looking at putting a chocolate manufacturer in there with condos above… most people were looking at condos on top floor, boutique hotel on the main floor and the bottom floor being a restaurant or retail,” he said.
The listing price of the building, most recently quoted at $525,000 as of last February, was not usually an issue for prospective buyers over the years. It was instead the cost of financing an extensive renovation that was the largest deterrent.
The square footage of the Traveller’s Hotel is estimated somewhere between 13,000 and 16,000 square feet.
“It is a big project.” Smith said. “It’s going to cost millions of dollars to get it going and that was a major hump.”
The town initiated work on the building a few years ago because of concerns about the top wall that faces that alley on the left side of the building.
Approximately $200,000 of work was carried out to repoint and support the wall in the unlikely event of an earthquake. The now former owner repaid the town for the costs of the repair.
Beyond that the bones of the Traveller’s Hotel remain strong even more than a hundred years later.
“The building itself is solid and always has been. All the floors are flat and all made by fir. It’s a brick building so it’s pretty good,” Smith added.
Asked if he had any interesting memories about the Traveller’s, Smith recalled when about 10 bins of garbage had to be removed after transients moved in while the building was abandoned.
“Strangely after all that time there was still a full keg of beer in the pub downstairs … there were also a couple of jars of pickles that I left on the shelf for humour reasons,” he said.