January Meeting Notes

My apologies for the delay in posting these notes;  it has been a very busy week!

Last Thursday we had a really productive meeting, covering a wide range of current and ongoing issues:

  • We were joined by Vancouver City Clr. Heather Deal for the first hour.  She took us through the City’s new Heritage Action Plan‘s 14 points in good detail. The Plan appears to cover everything from tightening up demolition permits to reducing the complexity of HRAs, updating the Heritage Register and changing the building code to ease heritage renovation.
  • The conversation after the presentation was equally useful: some speakers noted that highly inflated property values in Vancouver were damaging heritage retention; that cultural mapping in the Heritage Register should be separate from architectural mapping; that just a few thousand dollars in grants could return many of the Edwardian ornamentation that flourished on the Drive; that groups like ours should be able to nominate for the Register; that fees collected for HRAs etc should be maintained for heritage uses rather than disappear into general revenue.
  • Three specific issues were raised with Clr. Deal:  (a) 1872 Parker, the Brockhouse, needs to be saved from imminent demolition.  James Evans, who developed the Jeffs Residences and who was in attendance, confirmed that he was in discussions with the current owners.  However, there were still issues to be solved before he can move in to save the property.  This was greeted with excitement by the group.
  • (b) The Green House next to the Cultch on Venables which Heather Redfern has stated is to be demolished.  Clr. Deal stated that the City wants to save the building and they would be working to that end.
  • (c) Astorino’s.  The Group stressed the cultural importance of the building which is slated to be lost in the Boffo redevelopment.  It was also noted that this is now an active performance space. Clr. Deal promised to review the situation.
  • Clr. Deal had to leave the meeting after an hour, but it was generally agreed this had been a very useful conversation.
  • We discussed the work that our intern, Stephanie Chang, a Geog 429 student, is working on.  She is working with us to create a social and cultural portrait of the area around Woodland Park.  She has to complete the project for presentation in April.
  • Kristen Moran gave a short presentation on her extended video about heritage in Grandview.  She was looking for more heritage homeowners to be a part of the video, and she received a great many names from those attending the meeting.
  • Penny gave an update on the Centenary Signs Project.  All the 2013 signs have now been collected and are being cleaned.  We will continue the survey for 2014 targets in March when the weather improves.
  • Finally, we had another episode in Eric Phillips’ magnificent Mechanicals and Materials series.  This part was on heritage home heating systems.  Eric took us on an illustrated trip through various fuel types — wood, coal, coke, sawdust, oil and gas.  Fascinating stuff.  Next month we will continue this part, looking at fireplaces, boilers and other systems.

January Meeting Notice

After our break for Christmas, the Grandview Heritage Group is back with regular monthly meetings.  The next one is on Thursday 16th January at 7:00pm in the Boardroom of the Britannia Info Centre.  We have a fascinating agenda planned that includes:

  • We will be privilileged to have with us Vancouver City Councilor Heather Deal who will discuss with us the recently approved Heritage Action Plan, and with whom we will discuss a number of heritage buildings under threat in Grandview.
  • We will also have the latest episode in Eric Phillip’s valuable series on the Mechanics and Materials of Heritage Houses.  This month, Eric will give a presentation on heritage heating systems.
  • We will introduce Stephanie Chang, a student at UBC Geography 429, who will be working with us on a mapping and social project over the next couple of months.
  • We will also be joined by Kristen Moran who plans to expand her short-form video on heritage issues in Grandview.
  • Finally, we will be moving ahead on planning for the 2014 version of our Centenary Houses project.

We look forward to seeing many of you on Thursday!

Meeting Notes: November 2013

Last Thursday evening, the GHG met for its November meeting. It was another conversation full of interest, with a good turn our and new people attending. In brief, we discussed:

  • 1872 Parker Street.  Craig Ollenberger gave a history of the last few years of Brookhouse, leading to the current situation where we will almost certainly lose this magnificent Queen Anne building in the next few weeks.  The debate widened into HRAs and other mechanisms that might save such houses.  It was agreed that we need to research the additional value of heritage houses for buyers. It was also agreed that we should invite Heather Deal to a GHG meeting to discuss an updated Heritage Register.
  • Penny got us up-to-date on her discussions with UBC Professors about using students to assist us with our projects this winter/spring. It seems that basic research on our Centenary Celebration houses might be the best bet. It was noted the students will need hand-holding.  It was agreed will determine our needs in December for a January start.
  • Britannia is currently managing the Astorinio’s space at Commercial & Venables.  It is part of the proposed Boffo properties development.  It was noted that the EWaldorf and the Hollywood received demolition delays, and we agree that Astorino’s shoild get at least that.  We will be pushing for a Statement of Significance to be completed.  Penny will see if we can get a tour of the property.
  • Eric Phillips gave a presentation that was an update to several of his wonderful Mechanicals & Materials series.  He covered new forms of roofing materials, dealing with tin roofs, textured concrete blocks, and drywall mud.
  • Penny and Maria and others have begun the process of walking the neighbourhood looking for candidates for our 2014 Centenary Signs project.  They have already covered two of ten areas, and other walking tours start each Wednesday at 1pm from the 1700 block Napier.  It was noted that some of the 2013 signs may be missing and may need to be replaced.
  • Jak agreed to call Lance about the Permanent Signs project.
  • Britannia is having an Open House on Thursday 28th November in the greenway.  GHG is sharing a table with GWAC.  Volunteers are needed.
  • Bruce Macdonald reported on the first formal meeting of the Mount Pleasant Heritage Group — the first in what we hope will eventually be a city-wide collections of groups.  A local brewery has agreed to sponsor space for their meetings.
  • Penny reported on our finances, which are in good shape.
  • It was noted that Jak King and Bruce will be making a history/heritage presentation at the COPE meeting on Sunday 24th November.
  • Michael Kluckner is curating a series of historic Vancouver films at the Van City Cinema on Sunday 24th.
  • Michael is also curating a series of Vancouver panorama photographs at the Space Centre on December 4th at 7pm.
  • Finally, Carolyn Lair introduced us to the ASPECT program that mentors organizations on fundraising, and organizational strengths.

Another very full and worthwhile evening.

Meeting Notes: October

Excellent meeting last night with a number of new people in attendance, including two from Mount Pleasant who have been inspired to start a heritage group in their neighbourhood — that’s what we want to see all over the City!  There were a number of interesting items on the agenda:

  • We started with an announcement of a heritage/history walk:  Maurice Guibord will be conducting a tour of the area west of Commercial Drive on Saturday 9th November.  Meet at Mosaic Park (Charles & McLean) at 10:00am sharp.  Suggested donation is $10.  Maurice — an excellent and experienced tour leader — has found some fascinating material from that area and the tour is bound to be of interest.
  • The wonderful Brookhouse at 1872 Parker seems doomed.  Subject to a few conditions, the City has informed the owner — Ernie Ho of FuHo Design — that his permit to demolish and rebuild will be issued in early November. They have completely disregarded the letters sent from GHG and GWAC. Only direct pressure on the owner can save it now.
  • As a corollary to the 1872 Parker disaster, it was suggested that both GHG and GWAC write to City Council regarding the Heritage Revitalization Agreement process that seems to be so arduous that it has scared more than one owner away from saving a valuable property.
  • We also discussed the issue of the Astorino’s building at Commercial & Venables which is part of the ongoing Community Plan (CP) issues.  It was confirmed that City Council amended the Jackson Report to allow the potential development of this site (along with the Kettle, Ace of Suedes and the City parking lot) to continue even during the CP process but with “significant reduction in proposed height).  We now await the developer’s proposal.  In the meanwhile, we want to push for a Statement of Significance on the building as a folk-cultural artifact (it was agreed the building itself was not of the highest class) and as a performance space (especially as Britannia is now using it as such).
  • The 2014 Centenary House signs campaign is now officially underway.  Penny and Maria will be organizing selection tours to create a list of potential houses.
  • We also discussed the “permanent plaque” program with reference to the fading that has been noticed on the Shelly’s Sign wall.  Lance will investigate the issue and report back to us.
  • Jak agreed to write a brief guide to adding material to our wiki. This will appear on this website in the next few days.
  • Bruce reported on the Ridge Bowling Pin which he has been trying to secure for the Grandview Lanes roof.  It has been purchased by Yusuf Wosk for $5,000 and is apparently stored in his backyard. Maybe we can still get it if he gets bored with it.
  • It was noted that there is an Opne House for the Trout Lake Masterplan on Saturday. Bruce Macdonald will be giving a heritage overview at the Community Centre that morning.
  • Finally, we thoroughly enjoyed part 4 of Eric’s marvelous series “Mechanicals and Materials“.  Tonight’s was about the Hazards of Old Houses.  He talked about the uses and problems with lead, asbestos, mercury, leaking underground storage tanks (apparently known as LUST to specialists), and other chemicals. Highly informative and entertaining as always.  Thanks Eric!

A fun and entertaining evening.

Monthly meeting, October 17th, 7 pm

Our usual meeting, in the Britannia boardroom from 7 till 9, will consider the following topics:

• Candidates for our 2014 “Century Signs” campaign – dividing the neighbourhood into sections, walking and evaluating, the timing for removing the 2013 signs and rolling out the 2014 houses

• the permanent plaques: update on the proposal to offer heritage plaques, for a fee, to interested homeowners, which leads to….

• light-proofing the Shelly’s plaque – the one we installed in June has faded quite badly. We will discuss options on how to shield it from UV and consider alternatives to the kind of plaque we used there

•Astorino’s and the Boffo project at Venables and Commercial: the old Astorino’s dance hall space is potentially a victim of the redevelopment process that Boffo, with support from the Kettle society, is trying to fast-track past the community plan process. Is it worth trying to put together a Statement of Significance or mount some other intervention?

•1872 Parker at Victoria Drive: the Queen Anne-style Woodhouse house (see the post below) is about to be demolished, the current owner having no interest in retaining it. As the building is not on the heritage registry, there appears to be little that staff can do to delay the owner’s development application. The only requirement the city is putting on the owner is the retention and repair of the granite wall. Is there value in a community campaign or will this just become a “teachable moment”?

•Danielle and Alyssa from Mount Pleasant are hoping to attend as part of their effort to form their own heritage group like ours.

• And, there may be a Powerpoint presentation on some aspect of our history and heritage.

Hope to see you there.

1872 Parker Street

As many of will recall, we were lucky enough to have a tour of the interior of Brookhouse at 1872 Parker some while ago.  This was just after a new owner had decided to move ahead with an HRA for the property.  Unfortunately, that project had difficuties and the current owner is seeking a demolition order and the right to build two duplexes.  68 members of GHG have signed the following letter in protest at that plan:

Subject: Development applications (DE417015 and DE417016), 1872 Parker Street

We the undersigned, who together form the Grandview Heritage Group, protest the above-listed development applications and insist that any demolition activity on this property be denied until the heritage house at 1872 Parker is properly assessed with a Statement of Significance and all options are explored for the house’s adaptive re-use under a Heritage Revitalization Agreement.

Built in 1909, the house is one of only about a dozen Queen Anne-style homes whose signature turret has become an identifying emblem of the Grandview area. In spite of its poor condition due to years of neglect, the house still is a landmark on a very prominent section of Victoria Drive, adding character and sharing the streetscape with the 1910 Copp House at Napier and the Hawkins residence (designated and rehabilitated as part of Britannia Lodge) between Napier and Parker. Other significant Queen Anne-style houses in nearby blocks are the Odlum House (a coop on Grant Avenue) and Kurrajong (designated) at Napier and Salsbury.
As well as its distinctive architecture, the house still contains significant interior detailing, in spite of its decades as a rooming house.
In the Mount Pleasant area near City Hall, houses of this style have attracted the interest of sympathetic developers: for example, the former Anglican Women’s Auxiliary house at 334 West 14th, has recently begun the process of conversion into suites with an infill building. It is only laziness and expediency on the part of the property’s current owners that is prompting them to consider demolition of such a heritage asset.

It is our understanding that work was done a year or so ago to develop plans for a Heritage Revitalization Agreement. We insist that these or similar plans become the basis for a future use of the home. Demolition, in this “greenest city,” is simply not an option.

Your sincerely,

The Grandview Heritage Group

Brookhouse: The Interior

The building at 1872 Parker Street, on the south west corner of Victoria Drive, is a fine example of the Queen Anne style popular in the Grandview neighbourhood.  It was built in 1909, probably for George N. Jordan, a realtor who lived there until 1916.  The house is known locally as Brookhouse, named for a printer and editor, Arthur A. Brookhouse, who owned the house and lived there with his family from 1927 until his death in 1947.   The following image is from 1932.

After the war, the house was converted into a rooming house and remained so until the last tenants left this summer (2012).   A few days ago, the final tenant opened the house to friends for a final goodbye, and invited members of the Grandview Heritage Group to visit and document the interior of this important heritage building.  The following are notes from some of our members and a range of photographs taken during the visit.

Reviewing the complex floor plans sketched by Michael Kluckner, it was noted that it “demonstrates how poorly a Queen Anne like this converts into anything but a communal house. There was no possibility of discrete access to different parts of the place, thus no possibility of subdivision into suites.”

The original grandeur of the house is best expressed in the details that remain in the ground floor living rooms, including multiple leaded windows, a grand fireplace and classically decorated columns.








The second-floor bathroom was fascinating, with what appeared to be original fixtures…










. and the original hand-painted wallpaper.








“The house mechanicals are interesting  – to see what looks to be an original heating system still in reasonable condition, original electrical and old/original bathroom fixtures. Normally the radiators have been painted over the year, the plumbing fixtures modernized and at least the light switches replaced.

Some of the plumbing may be newer (toilet tank in main is 1930’s replacement) but in keeping. If the gas range is from early days at Brookhouse, it must have run on producer gas (coal gas) and I would have thought they may have had gas fireplaces as well since I have seen some in the city but could see no evidence here.”

“Added to my list of interesting things is the fact that such a big house had only one chimney. This was obviously a house designed for central heating — not a surprise there, but it is unusual not to have more fireplaces. The old gas range is a real curiosity.”

The house is run-down these days.  It appears to have suffered many years without maintenance …

…however, it is still full of small details that are worthwhile seeing.  We can only hope that some, at least, of these wonderful heritage details are retained in the upcoming re-development plans.

Contributions from:  Jak King, Michael Kluckner, Bruce Mcdonald, Eric Philips, Egon Simons, Penny Street,




Brookhouse Looks Safe

The wonderful century-old Queen Anne heritage building at the corner of Victoria & Parker — known as Brookhouse from a doctor who lived there in earlier times — seems to be heading safely into the future. The new owners have applied for an HRA which will renovate and maintain the house.

Their application with drawings is found at City of Vancouver Developments page (note that the header gives the wrong address: the attached drawings are for Brookhouse).

The image above is from 1932