Iconic Vancouver heritage mansion demolished despite protest
The 'Electric House' is shown in an image from a City of Vancouver report filed in 2016.
Published Monday, October 16, 2017 4:51PM PDT
An iconic Vancouver mansion once at the centre of a debate to protect heritage homes has been demolished despite opposition.
A pit in the middle of an empty lot is all that remains of the 4,592-square-foot English Tudor-style home, which was built in tony Shaughnessy in 1922.
The five-bedroom, five-bathroom home was built by the same architects who designed City Hall, and was given the nickname Electric House because it served as a model for how homes could be wired at a time when most had few outlets.
The previous owners of the house at 1550 West 29th Avenue first applied for a development permit that would allow them to demolish the home in 2014, but the discussion began the year before.
Because the owners and their designer began the process before the city approved its Heritage Action Plan, they were told they could demolish the house if there was no response during the neighbourhood notification process.
Notifications were sent to 60 people in the area in February-March 2015, a city report said, and no one responded. Conditional approval was granted in April 2015.
However, a year later, emails began to pour in from citizens concerned with the possible demolition. Vancouver residents and heritage experts voiced their opinions after the home was listed for sale for $7.3 million. The listing included the conditional approval of the permit, advertising that the new buyers could demolish the manor to make way for their dream home.
Concerns from the public that the home would be razed prompted the city to meet with the owner and permit applicant to discuss retaining the home, or at least salvaging some elements.
In May 2016, the city conducted a heritage inspection of the property to determine whether it qualified for protection. Heritage experts argued that it could meet qualifications given its history and that many of its original features were still intact.
Much of the mansion's wood paneling, stair rails, flooring, fireplaces, decorative ceiling details and tiling had been maintained, as well as the windows, front entrance and stucco.
And while the home isn't listed on the Vancouver Heritage Register, it had been nominated due to its use as a model home by the Electrical Services League of BC.
The inspection found that the home had "sufficient heritage value" to warrant further research, but it was ultimately torn down.
The owner plans to build a 7,000-square-foot house in its place.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Darcy Matheson and The Canadian Press