Here are two links to a rather interesting NFB CMHC video called To Build A Better City:
The neighbourhood celebrated, and slowly over the past couple of decades, a large number of the old East End's dilapidated houses have been saved from the brink and restored to their former glory. You see them here and there around the neighbourhood, the 600-and 800 blocks of East Georgia, the 600 and 700 blocks of Princess. There is a stunning example of late 19th century decorative carpentry on a little house at 775 East Pender. The beautiful rosettes and spindles had been hidden under some form of protective cladding for years.
As bits and pieces of the neighbourhood began to be restored, Strathcona, what was left of the old East End, began to be seen as a desirable, even cool place to live. Every year in November a neighbourhood-based arts festival called the East End Culture Crawl brings thousands of curious arts and crafts seekers from outside of the neighbourhood. Among the visitors are sometimes neighbourhood oldtimers who reminisce about how everything was and looked way back when. But obviously most of the people you see and hear have never before, or rarely, been inside the neighbourhood. Perhaps it is the enduring perception that the East End is an edgy, dangerous, place that causes them to ooh and aah the way they do. You can almost see the thought bubbles above their heads, "Who knew?". (Note: The neighbourhood's transformation has been such that it has even been written about in the March 15/16, 2008 edition of the Financial Times. The article's title is "How Murky Became Quirky". http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/734b4ab0-f234-11dc-9b45-0000779fd2ac.html?nclick_check=1)
But back to 831 East Georgia and the development permit application. I was stunned, first of all, that something like the demolition of a perfectly restorable Strathcona house would be allowed or disallowed by the results of a survey of the residents of only one block. I decided to talk to my neighbours to find what they thought. Contrary to my expectations, opinions were quite split. There were some who felt, as I did, that the prospect of losing another of our neighbourhood's historic old homes, when there were incentives in place to encourage retention of the house, was unacceptable. There were others who felt it was the right of an owner to do anything with his property, plain and simple. and I am sure there was a spectrum of positions in between.
I had researched a number of houses on the 800 block of East Georgia some years back. In fact, the houses on the western end of the 800-block of East Georgia was one of my first paying jobs doing house history research. But I had not researched as far as 831 East Georgia and that is what I next set out to do.
I wanted to find out all I could about the house, when and by whom it was built, and what sort of people lived there over the years. I hoped that if I could get the information out to the people in the neighbourhood, that they would take interest in the house and what happened to it.
NEWFOUNDLANDERS ON THE 800 BLOCK OF HARRIS STREET
831 East Georgia (Harris Street until 1915) was built in 1900 by Newfoundland-born carpenter, William Hutchings. According to the 1901 census and other information I was able to glean from the BC Archives Vital Events listings, carpenter Henry Hutchings was born in Newfoundland on September 10, 1866. His wife, Leah Badcock, was born in French's Cove, Newfoundland on December 15, 1867 the daughter of sealer and cod fisherman Josiah Badcock and his wife Olivia. At the time of the census they had three children living with them: six year-old Mildred C. Hutchings, born in Newfoundland on February 21, 1895, four year-old Jessie O. Hutchings, born in the USA on August 21, 1896, and two year-old James C. D. Hutchings, born in BC on February 7, 1899.
(There he is, seated at right in the 1903 CVA Photo POL P4). There may or may not have been a connection. Either way, the Hutchings lived at 831 Harris until 1909.
There is an ad on page 60 of the directory indicating the summer homes they were selling were available on “beautiful Gambier Island on our Easy Payment Plan”. The Loo Building was on the corner of Abbott and Hastings. The following year the Stanger family moved to 1863 Triumph. He went on to work as a pattern maker, retiring in 1942. Peter Stanger lived to the ripe old age of 100 spending his last years at George Derby Hospital. He died on December 5, 1972 at Shaughnessy Hospital and was buried in Mountain View. Annie May Stanger lived in later life at 4125 Canada Way in Burnaby. She died at Carlton Private Hospital on May 1, 1981. Her remains were cremated at Mountain View.
George Sanderson was born in Ontario in December of 1885. His wife, Pearl, was born in Ontario in February of 1885. Early city directories very often only listed the head of the family and did not list the names of spouses or children or boarders. We know from the 1911 census that, for that year at least, two roomers lived with the Sandersons: Augustus Carter, a car starter for BC Electric Railway who was born in March of 1883, and carpenter Norman Irwin, who was born in Ontario in March of 1882. George and Pearl Sanderson were Methodists. Sanderson worked for a number of years for Champion and White, a building materials company located at 1003 Beach. (CVA 99-1400 below)
Happily, the house that Newfoundland-born carpenter Henry Hutchings built at 831 Harris Street still stands. If you walk down the alley behind the house you will see a relocated and modified version of the house that was meant to replace 831 Georgia. The owners and their architect came up with a win/win situation within the guidelines of the RT-3 Zoning in which the owners got the modern house they wanted, and the Hutchings House--a little, but important piece of East End history was also saved. It is an interesting solution in that it reflects a two house on one lot tradition in the neighbourhood that goes back 100 years... except in most cases the older house is at the back of the lot.
Many thanks to Armida Beasley, niece of Luigi and Emilia Montico, for the photos of the Montico family and friends in front of 831 East Georgia, and to Patrick Gunn of Heritage Vancouver Society for the colour picture of 831 East Georgia.
For those of you who read this far and care about credits, here's a special treat. The front porch of 831 East Georgia was closed in sometime after the Montico family moved away and was restored with the help of a community grant to restore the historical porches of Strathcona sometime after the current owners bought the house... The new pillars are beautiful, but if you look at Patrick's colour photo and Armida's B&W photo on the bottom left, you can see how the originals and the replacements are a bit different. (Remember you can enlarge each photo by clicking on them). Neat, eh?
CVA 780-361 showing apartment in Strathcona - location unknown
CVA 203-48 showing back of 248-250 Union Street
CVA 780-310 showing back of a Strathcona house - location unknown
CVA 780-307 showing interior of Strathcona house in 1960s - location unknown