Future uncertain for 147-year-old Kelowna heritage home damaged in fire
The Fleming House is a historic 2-storey log house built by one of Kelowna's first European settlers in 1871
The city of Kelowna is building a temporary roof to protect a 147-year-old home after it was damaged in a fire earlier this summer.
The Fleming House is a two storey farm house built in 1871 from hand hewn pine logs by one of Kelowna's first pioneers, Fredrick Brent.
Brent also constructed Brent's Grist Mill which is the oldest surviving grist mill in British Columbia.
The two buildings were moved to Kelowna's Heritage Park in 2002 along with a historic dairy barn from the original property.
However, this summer the future of the farm house was put into question after a fire destroyed the building's roof and the wooden siding that was added onto the original structure in the early 1900s.
The building also lost its porch and much of the interior was burned.
This week, Kelowna city council considered a motion to finance the construction of a temporary roof for the heritage house to protect it from the elements.
During a debate on the motion, some councillors questioned the merits of making further investments in the burned farm house.
"Sorry, to me it looks like good money after bad," said Luke Stack.
"When I look at the condition of this facility, I don't see how we would be able to put a plan together to make it restorable."
The motion narrowly passed, however, and city will pay $29,000 for construction of the temporary roof.
Local historian Don Knox, who is president of the Central Okanagan Historical Society, said he's grateful council approved the money.
Knox said the Fleming home, despite its burned out condition, remains an important example of building practices of the Okanagan region's pioneers.
"The value of especially the very old buildings, which Kelowna does not have a lot of, is the preservation of the information that the building itself contains," said Knox.
There is no estimate on how much it will cost to fully restore the house, but city of Kelowna Parks and Buildings manager Robert Parlane said it will likely be very expensive.
Despite the fire, the original pine logs in the home are in good shape, said Parlane.
"It's sort of a little bit of an archeological discovery by fire, if you like," he said.
"It's restoring [the house] back to its original building form."
The Fleming House and Brent's Grist Mill are located very near the newly developed Okanagan Rail Trail, which will bring many people past Heritage Park, said Parlane.
Putting the temporary roof on the farm house will protect what's left of the structure from the elements and it also gives the city time to consider its future.