I was surprised to learn that one of my all-time favorite houses – we’re talking going back to college years here folks – in Vancouver British Columbia is for sale! Not necessarily a good thing because it is at risk of being torn down and replaced with some massive modern McMansion.
This was the VERY FIRST house that caught my eye the day I moved to Vancouver. I remember my parents commenting on the distinctive wavy roof because we had never seen anything like it before.
A couple years later, I lived in an attic apartment literally four blocks away from this house during my last two years of university in the late 1990’s.
I drove by this house every day as I took the bus to the University of British Columbia. I walked by it countless times with armloads of groceries. Being a life-long house nut, I was naturally smitten with this little cutie and always wondered what lucky soul lived there.
It turns out the house was owned by an elderly lady who passed away in November 2012. Her heirs are selling off her estate so the home is now up for sale for the first time in many years.
Built in the year 1930 by Vancouver builder Brenton Lea, the home was designed by architect Ross Lort who also designed a twin storybook Tudor a few miles away. Both houses have that very distinctive undulating faux-thatched roof.
This 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom home is listed at $2,860,000 – not a surprising price in the steep real estate market that is Vancouver. Over the past two decades Vancouver has lost numerous vintage character homes to aggressive urban development. Many wonderful early 20th century cottages are being torn down at an alarming clip and replaced with high density condominiums or larger new construction homes. In fact, smaller historic homes are often advertised as “scrape” properties when they are listed for sale.
The Hobbit House on West King Edward Avenue is only slightly less subtlety marketed with the listing phrase: “huge potential for rezoning as a part of the City Cambie Corridor Plan.”
Ugh. Doesn’t the thought of this home being torn down and replaced with some jumbo condo complex just BREAK YOUR HEART?
There’s hope that a preservation minded individual will step forward and buy it – like the fellow who bought the Hobbit house’s twin house on Vancouver’s Broadway Avenue in 2009 and had it renovated and restored:
Plus, the special zoning of the Hobbit house might make it more difficult to demolish. According to a recent Vancouver Sun article:
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.
We can only hope and pray that the Vancouver city council will have the good sense to ensure the survival of this adorable landmark home. Stranger things have happened.
To see some rare interior photos of the Hobbit house, click here.
UPDATE: When my mom read this post she remembered that we actually stopped and took a picture of this place. Sure enough, she went through her photos and found this picture from 1996:
My mom is by no means a hoarder so I think it’s a miracle that she still has this photo!