Rose Hill Manor should be preserved

Published 10:57 am Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Rose Hill Manor has stood stately at the north end of Port Arthur’s historic Lakeshore Drive almost since the beginning of Port Arthur. Built in 1906 at 100 Woodworth Blvd. by banker and former Mayor Rome Hatch Woodworth, the mansion served as the Woodworth family home until it was donated to the city of Port Arthur in 1948. The home was a popular gathering place for many years, but as the downtown area declined and businesses moved north, Rose Hill was, unfortunately, allowed to decline as well.

Now the old estate needs repairs that are estimated to be as much as $700,000. There is $75,000 in the proposed budget and the City Council may be tempted to cut even that small down payment on the repairs to Rose Hill because there isn’t enough money to purchase or repair everything that has been allowed to fall into disrepair over past years. Port Arthur has lost many of our connections to our history over the years: the KCS Depot at the foot of Procter Street and the Goodhue Hotel come to mind as examples. Other historic buildings such as the World Trade Building are still standing downtown, but seem like they have lost the battle with the elements and are beyond repair.

But Rose Hill, though neglected, is not gone. It’s in a perfect location — where the seawall drive meets Woodworth Boulevard — to be an anchor for the downtown redevelopment efforts. With its picturesque grounds as park land, it’s easy to imagine Rose Hill once again becoming a favorite location for weddings and receptions.

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The Department Club has been in charge of daily operations of Rose Hill, and their membership deserves many thanks for what they have done over the years to keep the old estate from falling apart. It is time to consider new leadership focused on what Rose Hill needs to survive and how it can be best used to raise revenue. A city-appointed group like the Pleasure Island Commission or the Library Advisory Board could Make Rose Hill its sole focus. That’s just one idea. We encourage the city to begin the process by approving the recommendation in the proposed budget then use the next year to come up with a plan to save Rose Hill and maintain our connection to the city’s early days for visitors and for future Port Arthurans who deserve to have some examples of their heritage preserved.