British Columbia

This historic Chilliwack home can be yours for the low, low price of … nothing

It’s a fixer-upper — but you can’t beat the price.

125-year-old Paisley House will be torn down if someone doesn't come to its rescue

Merlin Bunt's great-great-grandfather bought the Paisley House in Chilliwack, B.C., in 1899. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

It's a fixer-upper — but you can't beat the price.

The owner of the house that has stood on Wellington Avenue in Chilliwack for 125 years is willing to give it away, free of charge.

But here's the catch: The new owner will have to move the house to another location, which will cost about $50,000.

If no one comes to its rescue, the house that Merlin Bunt's ancestors lived in about 120 years ago will be torn down to make way for a multi-family development.

"It's a tangible piece of my personal history," Bunt said. "Right now, it's in peril."

Prime Minister Mackenzie King had tea in the backyard of the Paisley House during a visit in the 1930s, Merlin Bunt says. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

When the PM dropped by for tea

Louis Paisley built the house in 1894 and sold it to Bunt's great-great-grandfather Isaac Kipp in 1899.

"He was the so-called father of Chilliwack and my grandmother came here when she was a young child and played in the back barn," Bunt said.

"They were strong people, they played piano and they had eight kids, one being my grandmother."

Bunt says the Kipps were such a big deal in town that Prime Minister Mackenzie King paid them a visit in in the 1930s.

"He had tea with my grandmother in the backyard," Bunt said.

But he admitted that, despite its attractive price tag, saving the home would require a significant sum.

"It's going to take a heritage enthusiast with deep pockets to save this place," he said.

Heritage Chilliwack Society president Laura Reid wants to see the city provide incentives to developers to incorporate historic buildings into their projects. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

'Heritage action plan'

Chilliwack's inventory of historical sites hasn't been updated since the early 1990s, according to Coun. Jason Lum — and that means that many could be going unprotected.

Lum says new guidelines are being developed to ensure the city's history is preserved.

"We've had a number of applications come forward with homes that have significant heritage value," Lum said.

"Instead of just dealing with them on a one off, I thought it would be prudent to look at a heritage action plan," he said.

Heritage Chilliwack Society president Laura Reid wants to see the action plan include incentives for developers to save properties like the Paisley House.

"I think that there's opportunities to not stop development, but to be a little more forward thinking," she said.

"There are ways of incorporating these beautiful heritage homes into new developments rather than just obliterating them."

Lum and Reid both point to the ongoing revitalization of downtown Chilliwack as an example of how historic buildings can be included in new projects.


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