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The history of Vancouver’s 'Hobbit House,' now listed for sale
VANCOUVER -- In the 1940s, an architect named Ross Lort designed three so-called "storybook houses"-- two in Vancouver and one in West Vancouver.
With its wavy, cedar-shingled roof and cottage-like brick work, the heritage home on West King Edward Avenue in Vancouver became known as the "Hobbit House," and now it’s listed for sale.
Its official title is James House, named after its original owner William James, who was a foreman with the Canadian National Railway. Vancouver historian John Atkin says the style of the home comes from the backlots of Hollywood.
"These faux, heritage-looking English European villages, set designers would design for movie execs, then it became a style," said Atkin.
The home has been an attention grabber on the busy Vancouver street for 75 years. In 2016, a developer bought three lots beside the Hobbit House for a townhome project, and the city encouraged him to also buy the unique, then dilapidated home next door. After a total restoration outside and a modern renovation inside, the Hobbit House is now listed for sale for $2.698 million.
"The house won a heritage award a couple of years ago from the city of Vancouver because it is a very striking and very careful piece of conservation, and we very rarely see that level of conservation of the exterior of a house," said Atkin. "I think developers are waking up to the fact character and history and heritage and a new project, if you’re smart and you’e got a good architect, you can do some cool things."
As for who might buy the Hobbit House?
"I think you would have to have a certain sensibility about you," said Atkin. "Storybook houses attract a certain audience, they look and are super cute. So I think you’d have to like that sort of thing."