The housing stock in the Dunbar area of Vancouver has undergone significant change in the past five years. Originally a working class neighbourhood with many quite modest homes surrounded by lovely gardens, it is now a neighbourhood that 99% of the people working in Vancouver cannot afford because the replacement homes are built to the maximum footprint and cost millions. Greenspace has been reduced. Included on this website are photos of many (not all) of the disappeared houses.
View Teardowns in the Dunbar area of Vancouver, BC in a larger map

Demolitions West of the Dunbar Community Centre

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Castle Crumbles

Save the castles! Once upon a time there were two "castle" houses situated next to each other. However, that is no longer the case. There was a demolition of one of them on Saturday, February 21, 2015. This demolition reminds me of "The Dorothies", where there were twin houses lived in by two women named Dorothy, except those houses were saved from demolition and moved from their original location to West 41st.

In the above two photos, you get only a tiny peek of the timbered neighbour, but here is a full view of the lucky house that remains.

On page 163 of The Story of Dunbar, published in 2007, there is a photo of the demolished house. The caption states: "Dozens of 'castle houses' like this one at 3815 West 39th were built by Dunbar developer Jack Wood during the 1930's. Wood and his wife lived in this particular house." Wood was an active developer in the area. From the same book: "Within six months, he had sold one hundred lots and built over fifty homes. One reason for Wood's commercial success might have been his thrifty nature...Wood enforced a rule that any piece of wood over 12 inches long had to be built into the building." In those days, very little went to the landfill! There is more interesting information in the book about the history of house architecture in Dunbar.

Obviously, the castle houses are historic items in the Dunbar area and other nearby areas. But there is yet another reason to save the castles, relating strangely enough to the telephone! A long-time Dunbar resident who is an expert on the history of telephone service in the Dunbar area wrote this to me: "When dial telephones were introduced... we were assigned a number in the newly created Castle exchange, abbreviated CA. The pool of numbers available was doubled by adding a number - either a 4 or an 8. Hence Castle 4 or Castle 8, eventually that became the 224 or 228 that we are familiar with today." So, if your land line number begins with 224 or 228, you are saving a castle! But it would be good to have a few "real" castles remain to enhance our neighbourhoods and provide relief from all the 21st century architecture.

The house was sold in May 2014. Will the new house have a castle entrance way? You can see unhappy comments on Vancouver Vanishes

Friday, February 13, 2015

Two More Have Been Deconstructed

Vancouver Vanishes has recently featured these two "deconstructions", but I am taking the liberty of duplicating them here because they are literally gone to bits, and more photos of them may be acceptable to you readers because it is impossible to take photos of these houses ever again. Here is the house at 3742 West 36th Avenue in the fall of 2013:
This unique east-coast looking house was built in 1929 on a wide 50 foot lot and torn down in December 2014 or January 2015 in order to build something undoubtedly more modern.

Look at the lovely garden of this house at 3883 West 21st Avenue in May 2013 at the time the house was for sale:

A year later in June 2014, the garden was still thriving, but it became a bit too wild, and there were no geraniums in the window box. I suspect that the house was vacant. This fairly typical house of its time was built in 1928 and torn down in January 2015.

The various decades of houses in Vancouver have their typical styles, and we are losing the number of representative examples. Along with the more typical (and admittedly sometimes boring) designs, there are some anomalies, some very special examples. I've got my eye on two such special ones, both of which look doomed. Unfortunately, more to come...

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Now Gone

This is a traditional house, built in 1930 on a street with mostly 33 foot lots and a few 49.5 foot lots, of which this is one. Since I took this spring-time photo in May 2011, I assume that the house must have been for sale at that time. However, it sold, probably again, in April 2014 and was torn down late January 2015. A neighbour reported that "quite a bit of time is taken during demolition to separate insulation and other materials into different piles" in contrast to earlier demolitions when everything got dumped into the same bin.

This second photo was taken in March 2014. I really like how this north-facing fa├žade of the house and its windows and roofline were preserved. I do not remember another house exactly like this one. With this demolition, we lose a bit of our 1930's heritage in the Dunbar neighbourhood yet again.