Next Meeting: 18th April 2013

It is amazing how quickly the months roll around, and here we are just a week away from the next GHG Public Meeting.  As usual we will meet at the Britannia Board Room on Napier Street at 7:00pm on Thursday 18th April.  We have quite a few things to talk about.

I am sure the highlight of the evening will be the third in Eric Phillip’s excellent series on Historic House Mechanicals and Materials.  This one will be about balloon construction and why it was different from both platform and timber frame construction.

cyclopedia07-p49There are a number of events coming up that we need to discuss:  2013 Heritage Awards (end of May); Heritage Vancouver House Tour (2nd June), which we might have some part of; and CarFree Day on the Drive (16 June), in which we have participated before.

We also have a couple of projects that are ongoing:  the launch of the 2013 Centenary House Signs campaign needs to be arranged; and we have news to share on the Shelly’s 4X Sign renewal project.

Hopefully we will also have time to discuss a summer program of walks and talks, and to discuss the upcoming 75th anniversary (July 1st) of the First Avenue Viaduct.  And, of course, anything else that folks want to raise

It should be a fun and interesting evening, so do please join us in this continuing conversation designed to enhance and protect the heritage of Grandview.

Notes From The March Meeting

Nineteen people jammed the Britannia boardroom for our latest meeting, including first-timers, some of whom had been contacted about hosting a centenary sign on their front lawn. The highlight was Eric Phillips’s excellent talk on the esoterica of knob and tube wiring, early electrical codes and how Grandview houses fitted seamlessly into the modern age a century ago. At the next meeting, April 18th, Eric will continue his series of “house mechanic” talks with one on framing methods for vintage houses.

The group discussed possible upcoming walking tours: Cedar Cove (foot of Victoria Drive) and Venables/Prior would take us away from the familiar “heritage” area around The Drive/Victoria. There was also discussion of the possibility of night-time walks – the best time to observe the leaded glass in a lot of old houses and apartment buildings.

The group heard updates from Michael Kluckner on the progress (slow) toward raising funds to restore the Shelly’s 4X Bakery sign on the sidewall of the Via Tevere restaurant at Victoria and William; Penny Street told the group that 22 homeowners had committed to hosting the 2013 centenary signs on their front lawns. The signs will be distributed within the next few weeks and we anticipate a launch/community celebration, perhaps in May.

Don’t forget!: this Saturday (the 23rd) at 3 pm, at the Eastside Family Place, 1661 Napier Street, just north of Grandview Park, by the playground, Penny Street will be conducting a seminar on how to research the history of your house. All are welcome – we will be asking for a $10 donation to the Grandview Heritage Group at the door.

Notes From The February Meeting

We had a busy, lively and highly productive meeting on Thursday last.

  • The Centenary Birthday House project: We are still exploring options for permanent signs for the Centenary House campaign.  These will be offered to those houses that were celebrated in 2012. We followed up on our walk for the 2013 campaign, and will finish off the second half of our potentials list on Sunday.  We will be meeting at Continental Coffee at 10am if anyone cares to join us.
  • There was a fascinating discussion about the plans for preserving the Shelly’s 6X sign on Via Tevere’s wall. We discussed the pros and cons (and possible availabilities) of various funding sources for the estimated $3,000 cost, including neighbourhood grants, foundations, paint companies, and other.  We will be exploring these options over the next few weeks.  Michael Kluckner will also supervise a small test patch to confirm the methods we hope to use to preserve the sign.  We also discussed the potential for various tie-ins to the project, including the Rose/Lily annual block party, St. Francis Church, and a historical tour.
  • We looked at a number of relevant events that are upcoming:
    • Michael Kluckner is organizing an Art Mob to help save the Mac-Blo building at Van Dusen Gardens.  This starts at noon on Saturday 23rd.
    • The Grandview Woodland Community Plan is holding a workshop on housing on Wednesday 27th from 6pm at the WISE Hall.  This is a workshop that has obvious implications for heritage in the neighbourhood.
    • Eric is attending the Heritage Foundation’s Old School workshop on plastering on Saturday 2nd March.
    • Also on 2nd March, the Rio Theatre is showing the excellent documentary called “The Hollow Tree” about the efforts to save an iconic relic in Stanley Park.  It features our own Bruce Macdonald.
    • On Monday 4th March at 7pm, the monthly GWAC Meeting will include a presentation by the Commercial Drive BIA on their Vision Report for the Drive.  This again has strong relevance to heritage.
    • Finally, on Saturday 23rd March, Penny Street will be presenting her workshop on researching the history of a house.  We will write a detailed post about this at the beginning of March, but we suggest you pencil in that afternoon in your date book.
  • It was noted that Spank on the Drive is looking for vintage photographs.  This led to a discussion about venues where we could display some of the heritage images of Grandview.
  • Eric has offered to present at our March meeting a talk on heritage electrical systems.  His offer was enthusiatically approved.  We’ll have more information on this in a later posting.
  • Bruce Macdonald presented the first draft of a booklet he is preparing on the early history of the Cedar Cove district of Grandview.
  • Jak noted that he is now formally at work on the second volume of his history of Commercial Drive and he is looking to schedule interviews with those who lived or worked on the Drive (and neighbourhood) between 1955 and 2000.

Many thanks to those who came along on Thursday night and helped the conversation.



Update on the Shelly’s 4X sign

A plan is coming together to restore the sign on the side of the Via Tevere restaurant at Victoria and William. A small group of us are applying for grants to try to raise about $3000 for wages and materials to allow us to start work in April or May.

The sign looked like this when it was daylighted in 2011…


… but has faded really badly. This is how it looked the other day…


So time is of the essence. (both photos by Penny Street)

With the collaboration of mural artist Victoria Oginski, Penny Street, Anne Daskal and I will be sealing the surface and then retouching parts that have disappeared. If all goes well in the test we plan asap, the weathered quality of the sign will endure for future generations.

York Theatre Sign

At our September meeting we discussed the wonderful “Little Theatre” sign that has emerged on the York Theatre’s south wall, and we agreed to write to the architects and developers in an attempt to preserve this important artifact of our cultural and community past.

We have now heard back from the architects and Don Luxton their heritage consultant.  Their letters said in part:

The appropriate due diligence was performed, with comprehensive input from envelope consultant, heritage consultant, structural consultant, and paint/coatings authority …  The consultations concluded that exposing the ghost signs and protecting them with an encapsulating coating is not feasible due to the too irregular and rough surface of the clay tile substrate and proper adhesion would not be achieved ,,,

[A] glass box option would also require the application of a UV resistant coating on the ghost signs, which may again lead to deterioration of the historic paint …

It was concluded that the signage could not be effectively available for visual display, but will continue to exist and will be protected and preserved accordingly … The design intent is to protect the ghost signs with an interlayer that separates the signs from the new stucco layer that will be appllied on top.  This conservation strategy will preserve the ghost signs behind the new facade render for future research and treatments when enhanced conservation technologies are available …

As an homage to the recommended concealed ‘ghost’ signage, the historic lettering was documented and is being replicated, to be incorporated as ‘ghost lettering’ in the renovation on the Commercial Drive facade roof screen.”

Not a bad result and we thank the architects and their principals for taking these steps to preserve the signs for the future.

Meeting Notes — September

We had a splendidly full and interesting meeting last night.

Michael Kluckner led a discussion about how best we can approach the preservation of historic signs in Grandview.  These would include the Shelly’s sign at the Via Tevere Pizza restaurant on Victoria, and the Cozy Apartments sign on Commercial. It was noted that there are other signs on the Drive that are beneath thin veneers of whitewash. It was agreed that we should meet with the Tevere owners and discuss a possible repainting in the spring.

While we are talking about the Shelly’s sign, it is worth noting that the excellent images of the sign by one of our members, Egon Simons, are being used by the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan folks.

The talk of signs led us inexorably to the question of the Little Theatre sign that has been revealed by the redevelopment of the York Theatre.  The development plan shows that the wall is supposed to be covered by what appear to be white metal sheets.  However, we all agree that retention and diaplay of the sign would be a desirable outcome in what is an otherwise non-heritage renovation.  It was agreed that we will write to the developers to ascertain their plans for the sign and lobby for its continued public display.

We then turned to the matter of the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan.  Many of the people at the meeting are also members of the Community Plan PACE group and we discussed the first meeting of that Process Advisory and Community Engagement group that took place on Tuesday.  It was noted that heritage was a key factor in the discussions, especially in what the planners were keen to call “the Heritage area” east of Commercial Drive.  It was agreed that there are also pockets of important heritage value west of the Drive, many of which offer affordable housing options, and these need to be protected from any sweeping apartment-zone changes that may be contemplated in the new Plan.

There was a long and interesting discussion about the creation of a mixed cultural-industrial zone along and to the east of Clark Drive.

Talk of the area west side of Commercial was also timely because the next of our Walk & Talk series will feature that area.  One of the City’s most experienced guides, Maurice Guibord, will be leading the walk on October 20th and we’ll be publishing more details in the next little while.

Finally, we spent some time discussing additions and improvements to this website of ours.  It was suggested and agreed that we should have a page about resources for heritage home owners looking to repair and renovate their houses, and we will be gathering data for that.  We will also include a page with pointers for those looking to research the history of their homes, and this will tie in with our scheduled Talk in January on the same subject.  So, look for changes coming here soon!