British Columbia

Vancouver heritage house could be saved from demolition after city intervenes

A heritage house in Vancouver could be saved from demolition after the City of Vancouver ordered a heritage inspection of the property.

The 1922 house was originally built as a show home to demonstrate the use of electricity

The City of Vancouver has ordered a heritage inspection for the first time, after concerns were raised over a demolition permit applied for a 1922 home at 1550 West 29th Ave. (City of Vancouver)

A heritage house in Vancouver could be saved from demolition after the City of Vancouver ordered a heritage inspection of the property under the terms of a new bylaw passed by council in September last year.

The property — at 1550 West 29th Ave. — a Tudor-style home built in 1922, was once used to demonstrate how electricity could be used in the home. It is not currently listed on the Vancouver Heritage Register.

The inspection order remains in effect for a maximum of 30 days and both city staff and heritage experts will conduct the inspection.

The results will be presented to council on May 31.

Electric House

This is the first heritage inspection the city has ordered.

The house was designed by Townley & Matheson, the same architects who designed Vancouver City Hall and Point Grey Academy, and was built as a show home by the Electrical Services League of B.C. According to the city, it was the first Western Canadian house to be used in this way.

The property was listed for sale at $7.3 million earlier this year, with plans for a new, much larger home included in the original listing.

The design rationale submitted to the city with the development application says that the original house could not be kept for many "technical reasons", which included "low ceiling heights, inadequate basement height and construction, un-changeable front entrance and difficult stair configuration."

In a statement Friday, Mayor Gregor Robertson said that public concern had been a factor in council's decision.

"We heard very clearly from the public their concerns regarding the potential loss of the historic Electric House.

"Granting temporary heritage protection to this property is an important first step that gives the city time to properly assess its heritage value and character, and I look forward to staff reporting back later this month on next steps."

Heritage Vancouver, a local organization devoted to preserving the city`s cultural heritage, put the house on its Top 10 Watch List, stating that the home's potential loss, "is a stab in the heart of Vancouver.

"Vancouver faces the obliteration of character homes from between the two World Wars and the loss of the legacy of Townley & Matheson's exceptional Anglo-American style homes."