One of Chilliwack’s oldest homes is being saved from demolition, and will be moved in August.
The house currently resides at 46239 Hope River Road, on a large property that is scheduled to be developed into a townhouse complex by Chilliwack’s Richlane Builders.
“Richlane said, ‘Well, if someone can move the home, that’s fine and they can have the home for free,” said Heritage Chilliwack Society president Laura Reid. “It just happened to be that the people who are moving the home have a property that’s not far away.”
From where it sits now, the home will be relocated to nearby Riverside Drive, which is just on the other side of the Hope Slough.
|“The 110-year-old house has been lifted off its foundation and currently rests on wooden blocks awaiting its move. (Eric J. Welsh/ The Progress)|
“The further away, the more cost there is to relocate a home,” Reid noted. “It just happened to work out quite well.”
The house was built in 1910 by Thomas Gibbens, who came west from Saskatchewan in 1907, accompanied by his younger sister Lydia.
According to a historical account written by Reid and posted online at royalhotelchilliwack.com, Gibbens constructed several homes in Chilliwack.
“This grand home contains many of the architectural details found in typical craftsman homes, such as a partially inset /partially projecting front porch, an overhanging second story, square porch columns and balusters, wide overhanging eaves and exposed rafters as well as double hung windows,” Reid wrote.
Gibbens passed away in 1949 at the age of 91, and his niece Edna sold the house soon after.
If you look at it now, the home is sitting on blocks. If you crouch down, you can see clear through to the other side. There is a sign on the door that says, ‘No copper. No tools,’ indicating the house may have been targeted previously by thieves.
Reid hasn’t been able to look inside, but she recalls marveling at the pristine shape of the exterior.
|“A sign posted on the front door of the home indicates it’s had unwelcome visitors during the time it’s been vacant. (Eric J. Welsh/ The Progress)|
“I’d be really curious to see what kind of details are inside, but before any of this happened, it was a really well-kept home on a beautiful property,” she said.
While this house is being saved, other homes of its kind haven’t been so lucky. Reid guesses only 15 houses in Chilliwack carry the ‘heritage’ designation that keeps them safe from demolition. The Hope River Road home didn’t have that, and if not for the intervention of people wanting it preserved, it could have easily ended up a pile of sticks at the dump.
“It’s totally voluntary for home owners to do that and keep their heritage homes for future generations,” Reid explained. “These homes can’t be replicated today due to the craftsmanship that’s in them and the cost involved in trying to duplicate that. In addition to that, they’re a connection to the people who lived back in 1910, came here from wherever and left their mark on this community.”
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