It’s in no danger from the dark lord Sauron’s minions, but one of Vancouver’s two “Hobbit Houses” is up for sale with the realtor hyping the potential to tear it down and build a bigger and newer home.
The 83-year-old faux thatched-roof home is located at 587 W. King Edward Ave. and listed for $2.86 million. Realtor Mary Ellen Maasik refers to it as “infamous” in the listing and touts its proximity to a Canada Line station as well as its “huge potential for rezoning as a part of the City Cambie Corridor Plan." The city’s planning department aims to increase the density of an area stretching from 16th Avenue to the Fraser River in the coming years.
The 2,416-square-foot home sits in a neighbourhood of handsome smaller homes from the 30s and 40s that are being torn down in favour of larger, more contemporary homes.
The city’s heritage register lists the home in the ‘B’ category as a good example of a particular architectural style – storybook style – which means council must approve any potential buyer’s plan to demolish the building, according to the city’s website.
“The Vancouver Charter also allows Council to delay approving the demolition of a building either on the Heritage Register or a building that may be heritage property, through temporary protection for a period of 120 days,” the city’s website states. “During this time, a heritage inspection may be ordered to assess the value of the site.”
Heritage expert Don Luxton told The Sun’s John Mackie in 2009 that the Hobbit-style roof was a 1920s take on a traditional English thatched roof.
"Of course we can't build with thatched roofs in our climate, so it's done in cedar shingles," he explained.
The undulating roof was part of a playful storybook style which was popular in North America in the 1920s and '30s.
"In the period between the wars, America was a very cozy, traditional place," Luxton said.
"They'd never been bombed and destroyed [like Europeans], so they didn't embrace modernism the way that people in Europe did. Europe was sitting there with a pile of rubble going, 'Oops, I guess we'd better build some new buildings.' In the States they really fell back into a period of what I call 'entrenched traditionalism,' a kind of cozy domesticity. The idea of the home almost became this storybook, Snow White kind of fantasy for people."
The house was constructed by Brenton Lea, a builder. The architect was Ross Lort, who also designed the Casa Mia mansion on Southwest Marine Drive. Lea also built the city’s other surviving storybook house (3979 W. Broadway) in 1942.
**Article retrieved from: http://www.vancouversun.com