The Atherley Arms building was torn down Monday afternoon after a storied and checkered history as a bar, hotel, restaurant, and strip club.
Residents looked on as a demolition crew went to work dismantling the building, which was recently granted a demolition permit by the Township of Ramara and a 20-year abatement period on development charges as incentive to tear it down.
The building fell into disrepair and became an “embarrassment to the township,” as mayor Basil Clarke recently put it, and residents had mixed feelings about it coming down.
Sal Rizzo, who has lived near the building for the past 10 years, said he is happy to see it go.
“We were concerned about vandalism, rat infestations … it’s good to see it come down. It’s a shame they couldn’t restore it to its former glory, but they abandoned it,” Rizzo said.
Rizzo said he hopes to see the site turned into something useful for the community.
“It’s one thing to bring that down, but another thing, (I hope to see) something that the residents here can use, like a grocery store.”
Resident Ivan Broughton, who has lived in Ramara for 51 years, said that although the building has become an “eyesore,” he is sad to see it go because of its long history.
“I feel sorry for it going down; it’s a heritage building,” he said.
Broughton said there were still horse stalls in the basement, from back when stagecoaches used to travel through town.
“Back when stagecoaches run through here, the horses used to come here … to rest.”
“It was the best place in Orillia to get a good hamburger; there was a little restaurant in there,” Broughton added. “They made the best hamburgers.”