Next Meeting: Thursday 3/20

The next meeting of the Grandview Heritage Group is this coming Thursday, 20th March, at 7:00pm at the Britannia Board Room.  The agenda at this point includes:

  • Report on our student intern’s work on Woodland Park area history
  • Michael Kluckner presentation:  “H is for Heritage”
  • Sunday’s walk (see below)
  • Update on 1872 Parker Street
  • Visit with the Agnew Family
  • Teaser for Eric on Glass

Michael’s presentation is a lead up to our 2014 Centenary Signs walk on Sunday.  We will be meeting outside the Britannia Library at 9:30am and we will be exploring the area west of Britannia to Clark and north to Venables.  Please join us on Sunday even if you can’t make Thursday’s meeting!

Meeting Notes: February

We had another excellent meeting last night, with some new people joining us for the first time. I think they had a good tme.  Our discussions included:

  • the Green House next to the Cultch.  Michael reviewed the history of our involvement and our desire to see the building renovated rather than demolished. It was noted that the City retains responsibility for the maintenance of the structure.  Given Clr. Heather Deal’s statement last month that the City would like to see a solution that retains the building, it was agreed that MK will draft a letter to Brian Jackson, James Boldt and others confirming our interest in ensuring the building’s survival.
  • Brookhouse — further to last month’s exciting news that our friend and colleague James Evans might be interested in saving this building in a manner similar to what he did with the Jeffs Residence, it was learned that he is still in negotiations with the current owner.  It was agreed that we would give him political backing by writing another letter to the City opposing any application to demolish the building.
  • 2014 Centenary Signs — It was agree that the next exploratory walk to find houses for this year’s celebration will take place at 10:00am on Saturday 15th March (or in the event of rain, on Sunday 16th).  A small working group will meet in advance to plan routes etc.
  • Scott’s Grocery — Blair advised us that Scott’s Grocery on Victoria is about to close.  It will cease operation at the end of this month and the building has been sold to a developer who, apparently, wants to put an apartment building on the small lot. We discussed the history of attempted “block-busiting” on both sides of that block.  It was also noted that the current zoning on Scott’s lot is RM4 and therefore a small apartment building would likely be within regulations. We discussed the history of Scott’s building (1920s) and the other corner stores (now all gone) in the neighbourhood. MK will inquire at the Heritage Commission meeting on Monday if there is any support for saving the streetscape on that block.  We also discussed the possibility of a project looking at the history of the various corner stores.
  • Astorino’s — No further developments to report.
  • Student Intern Project — No further developments to report. We hope to hear back from her soon.
  • Note was taken of two upcoming events:
    • 24th February: Meeting of the Commercial Drive Action Group at Britannia Boardroom at 7:00pm to discuss the future of Commercial Drive.  Seems like this might be mostly about bike lanes.
    • 6th March: Heritage Vancouver meeting at 938 Howe to discuss heritage in the context of the current Community Plans.
  • We finished the evening in high style with another in Eric’s Heritage Mechanics and Materials series of illustrated talks.  This was Part 2 of Home Heating.  After reviewing the various fuel types he had discussed at last month’s meeting, Eric took us on a tour of fireplaces, kitchen stoves, parlour stoves, various furnaces, steam and hot water systems, radiators, kerosene heaters and various furnace and radiator control systems.  Marvelous stuff that included the observation that the introduction of furnaces had a profound effect on building design as a basement (often a raised basement in Vancouver) was a requirement for the furnace and fuel supplies.

 

Notice of February 20th meeting

Our regular monthly meeting will take place from 7 – 9 pm in the boardroom at Britannia. On the agenda:

The Green House at The Cultch: a report on the meeting with director Heather Redfern, reported in an earlier post on this blog, and a discussion of how to proceed with a campaign to see it rehabilitated and continuing in use

– Moving forward on the 2014 Century Signs project: winter weather has delayed our usual slog through the ‘hood looking for likely candidates for our signs. This is the third year of our program that has already celebrated and researched 50 Grandview houses.

– Pending closure of Scott’s Grocery at Victoria and Georgia: neighbour Blair Redlin notified us of the “Closing Out Sale” signs at Scott’s, a 1920’s purpose-built grocery store that is the last one still functioning on the non-Drive/non-Hastings part of the neighbourhood. According to Blair, new owners of the lot are talking about building apartments – unfortunately from a preservationist’s viewpoint, the land is zoned RM-4, which permits “medium density residential development, including a variety of multiple dwelling types, to encourage the retention of existing buidings and good design, and to achieve a number of community and social objectives through permitted increases in floor area.”

Astorino’s update

Stephanie Chang‘s Geography 429 project focusing on the Woodland Park area.

– Upcoming events and new items

… and, our speaker …

Eric Phillips will present the second half of his illustrated talk on vintage home-heating systems of the early houses in Grandview, a continuation of his stellar Mechanics and Materials series.

All are welcome!

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.

Meeting Notes: August 2013

We had another great meeting last Thursday evening.  We covered quite a lot of ground:

  • It was noted that the 1921 Census of Canada is now available for scholars. At the moment it is made available via Ancestry.ca and a subsription membership is required.  The current search engine dies not allow searches via addresses.
  • Bruce Macdonald reported further on the 12′ tall bowling pin model from the Ridge Bowling Lanes, and his desire to have it placed on the Grandview Lanes building at Commercial & 6th.  It has now been made available to him, for free, but work still needs to be done with City Hall to allow it to be displayed.  We are seeking its designation as a piece of art rather than a structure.  It was agreed that GHG will write a letter of support, and Jak will approach the BIA for similar support.
  • We looked carefully at the brochure of historical houses and sites put out by the Heritage Revitalization Advisory Commission of Ladysmith, BC and forwarded to us by Maria Hindmarch.  We were impressed by its content and style; and we discussed in general terms producing one or more of similar type for Commercial Drive and Grandview.  Michael Kluckner noted that he had created a map/brochure for one iof his latest walks, and had made it available on iPad etc.
  • Jak explained and displayed the GHG Wiki (see next post) and generally showed users could add information about their houses, for example.
  • We then discussed the idea of permanent ceramic signs for heritage houses in Grandview.  We are just about ready to move forward on this project and we debated on some detail the nature of content, the possibilty of placement, and the price we will charge. These final points need to be established finally at our next meeting.
  • Eric Philips discussed the short personal videos a vintage car club has curated, and he encouraged us to create something similar for our historical house sites on the website and the wiki.  This was unanimously endorsed, and Penny Street offered the use of a flip camera she has.
  • Eric also noted that he is working on fresh presentations for this Mechanics and Materials series. These include (a) the hazards of old houses; (b) glass; and (c) heating systems.  We are hoping that one of these will be ready for presentation at our September meeting.
  • Michael noted that we need to complete our final reports to the funding agencies for both the Shelly Sign painting project and the Street Party project.

Meeting Notes: July 2013

A good turnout of enthusiasts spent one of the hottest summer evenings last night in the cool of the Britannia Boardroom, discussing a wide range of heritage and historical topics:

  • We began by patting ourselves on the back for the organization and success of the Shelly’s Sign Party in June.  Especial thanks were given to Ann Daskal who was the principal organizer of the event. We had perhaps 200 people there and a good time was had by all.
  • On a more serious note, the issue of the recent purchase of 2040 Pandora Street and its neighbour was raised. 2040 Pandora is a particularly fine house and perhaps the earliest (1906) in its area. It had been converted in 1939 to a triplex.  The house and its neighbour sit in 2 50′ lots in an area zoned for small apartment buildings, and there is a danger that the old house may be lost in any new development.  Michael Kluckner noted that nothing has come to the Heritage Commission yet and he hoped that, at the least, the developer could be persuaded, probably through a densisty bonus, to restore the house and build units around the back and one side — not disimilar to the Jeffs House development.  This is a watch and wait situation.
  • As an offshoot of the previous discussion, Bruce Macdonald noted his current research into the Burrard South shipyard which operated during the war at the north end of McLean Drive and which employed hundreds of Grandview residents.
  • Jak noted that at the Shelly’s Party he had been approached by a large number of local residents who complained about the new “The Drive” street signs that had appeared without warning throughout much of the neighbourhood. Jak reported that after a discussion with the Commercial Drive BIA, the business group — who had had the signs put up — had written to the City asking for them to be removed except on Commercial Drive itself.
  • A newspaper article regarding the failure of New Westminster’s attempt to institute heritage areas in their city had been circulated before the meeting, and this was discussed.  As Michael noted, the Royal City had tried to use sticks rather than carrots and that has not worked out too well.  It was also noted that New West, unlike Vancouver, operates under the Municipal Act of BC which has caused concerns regarding liability.
  • We then had a long discussion about the current state of the Grandview-Woodland Community Plan.  Clr. Andriane Carr’s Motion for 23rd July was noted, as were the next two Open Houses on 29th and 31st July.
  • We then discussed future Walks & Talks.  Maurice Guibord has offered to reprise his popular Commercial Drive to Clark Drive Walk at a date in the fall to be determined. We also agreed to make the Researching Your House’s History seminar into an annual event.  Eric also is working on a few more of his Historic House Mechanical and Materials series and we look forward to those.
  • Jak and Lance reported on the progress with the Grandview wiki project.  Jak is hoping to make this available publicly befofe the next meeting.  At the next meeting he will also give a presentation on how to enter material into the wiki.
  • It was noted that an extended version of the July 1st piece on our blog regarding the construction of the First Avenue Viaduct will be included in the fall edition of BC History Magazine.
  • There was an interesting discussion about collecting and videotaping interviews with senior residents of Grandview to capture their stories before they are lost.  We will pursue this further.
  • Bruce reported on his continuing work to try to get the super-size bowling pin moved from the now-closed Ridge Bowling Lanes to the Grandview Lanes. We await further developments.
  • The next meeting will be on Thursday 15th August.

 

April Meeting Notes

We had another full and fascinating meeting of the Group last night, welcoming a number of first-time visitors. We began with a series of celebrations and good news.

We have received confirmation that the Group has been selected for an Award of Merit for Heritage Advocacy in the 2013 City of Vancouver Heritage Awards. The award ceremony is at the Georgia Hotel on May 27.  We are very proud recipients.

That was good news, followed by the great news that we now have the funds to complete the revitalization of the Shelly’s 4X Sign at Victoria and William.  The sign has suffered badly in the elements since it was revealed last year when the stucco covering was removed during renovations prior to the opening of the Via Tevere Restaurant.

G016-3We have received a substantial contribution of $2,000 from the Via Tevere Restaurant, for which we are very grateful.  In addition we have received $1,500 from a North Hastings Community Grant which allows us to celebrate the sign and its neighbouring area in a proper way.  Once again we are extraordinarily grateful for their assistance.  We have also applied for additional grants to complete the work but, in the meanwhile, we will top up the budget from our own funds.

Michael Kluckner has already put up temporary protection on the sign and now we just need a stretch of five or six days good weather to dry out the wood and for artist Victoria Oginski to work her magic.  We are hoping to get this completed within a month or so.

Later, early in the summer, we will be having a big celebratory party for the sign and its position within the neighbourhood.  You can expect food and music, a scavenger hunt, history tours and a lot of fun!  As we firm up dates and details, we will post them here.

And the good news just rolled on.  We have now put up all 25 of this year’s Centenary Birthday Signs on a wide range of wonderful houses in Grandview that are at least one hundred years old.  We have established a page on this site where you can find a map of all the houses along with architectural and historical details.  If you happen to have more information about any of these houses, please send it in and we’ll update the map.

For the 2012 Signs campaign, we had a lovely birthday party, and we decided to do another one for the 2013 campaign.  This year’s party will be at 1:30pm on Saturday 4th May on Grandview Park opposite 1636 Charles Street.  More details to follow, but everyone is welcome to join us in this celebration of Grandview’s glorious heritage houses.

Michael Kluckner gave a presentation on some lessons we have learned from this year’s campaign.  As we were preparing the final list of 2013 houses, we were approached by the owner of a house on Woodland and we were delighted to give a sign as we had documentation that the original house had been built in 1907.  However, on viewing the property, Michael and others became suspicious about its actual date.

The 1907 building permit said it was a $750 cottage, in the middle of three other $750 cottages; but, this house was clearly bigger than its neighbour, and far too big for a $750 cottage of that age.  The 1910 and 1912 maps we looked at showed four square little cottages equidistant apart.  However, by the 1927 Fire Insurance map, this house was shown to have grown and moved a lot closer to its southern neighbour.  And aerial photos revealed that the roof had been significantly altered.

So, although there is a 1907 buildng permit, and even though the same owners had the property from 1908 to 1952, it seems certain that between 1912 and 1927 they demolished the original cottage and replaced it with a much larger house.  This goes to show that documentation isn’t everything!

The meeting continued in great style with the third in Eric Phillip’s marvelous Heritage House Mechanics and Materials series. This presentation — with excellent visuals and a lot of hard-won personal knowledge — was about the difference between traditional timber framing, balloon framing, and Western Platform framing. It was fascinating.  We will work on Eric to prepare this series for web access as soon as possible because it deserves a wider audience.

It was agreed that next month our presentation will be Michael Kluckner on house types/styles in Grandview.  That promises to be another fascinating lesson.