by REMY SCALZA
It’s no secret that Vancouver is a city in transition. Dozens of cranes dot the horizon and quaint older neighbourhoods are being reborn as hip urban centres.
But the price of those changes is lost heritage and history. Heritage Vancouver just released its annual list of the top endangered sites in Vancouver. The report warns that “heritage character homes are disappearing at an alarming rate,” while earthquake-readiness upgrades are being used as “an opportunity to demolish our heritage schools.”
Here are the Top 5 Endangered Sites in the city as identified by Heritage Vancouver. Each entry identifies a particular building under threat, a whole class of structures being lost or both.
1) Hollywood Theatre and Community Cultural Spaces: Built in 1935, the Art Deco Hollywood Theatre at 3123 W. Broadway on Vancouver’s West Side is one of the city’s last intact neighbourhood theatres. A current proposal would gut the interior and end its use as a community cultural space, a trend happening citywide.
2) Shaughnessy Mansions: Since 1982, 51 character homes have been demolished in Shaughnessy, the ritzy neighbourhood of historic and, increasingly, newer mansions on Vancouver’s West Side. While the city is planning to restrain development in the area, for the moment the pace of demolition has only accelerated as homeowners seek to remodel before real constraints are enacted.
3) Kerrisdale Baptist Church and Heritage Churches: The 1912 Kerrisdale Baptist Church at 5870 East Boulevard, with its soaring roof and stucco facade, has been sold recently and is slated to be replaced with a six-storey residential building. Across the city, heritage churches are being sold off and replaced with condo developments at an alarming pace.
4) Morrisette Farm House and Historic Vancouver Farms: The 1912 Morrisette Farm House at 5503 Blenheim St. in the Dunbar neighbourhood is a reminder of Vancouver’s not-too-distant agricultural past. The home now stands empty and deteriorating, one of many historic agricultural structures whose demise seems imminent.
5) South Vancouver High Schools and Heritage Public Schools: A cluster of stately historic school buildings in South Vancouver dating to the early and mid 1900s are currently facing the prospect of demolition, including Lord Selkirk (1750 E. 22nd Ave.), Sir Sandford Fleming (1401 E. 49th Ave.) and John Oliver (530 E. 41st Ave.). Heritage schools across Vancouver are under threat, as the Vancouver School Board moves forward with seismic (earthquake) mitigation – a critical process but one that is so invasive that complete tear downs are often cheaper than renovations.
You can see the complete Top 10 List of Endangered Sites in Vancouver on the Heritage Vancouver website.