1899 mansion in Vancouver's West End facing demolition

Orange fencing is up around West End heritage building on site of new condo tower

The end appears nigh for the Gordon T. Legg residence on Harwood at Bute, but the Heritage Vancouver Society is making a last-ditch effort to urge city council to place a moratorium on its demolition.

Built in 1899 for the manager of Union Steamships of BC — Legg was also one of the founders of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club —, the West End mansion is an “A” (primary significant) building on the City of Vancouver’s Heritage Register.
“Designed in the British Arts and Crafts style, the house — with its broad overhanging jerkin-headed roof — typifies the style and grace of the late Victorian era and the patriotic connections to the Mother Country of many of Vancouver’s elite,” Heritage Vancouver says on its website.
A plan to restore and conserve it was agreed to by the city’s Heritage Commission in exchange for permission to build an 18-storey residential tower on the site. However, the society says city council turned down the proposal and requested that the developer create a new plan that would retain what’s believed to be the oldest tulip tree in Western Canada on the property.
The developer’s new plan saved the tree, reduced the height of the Bing Thom Architects-designed building by one storey and included the demolition of the building. Since it met the West End zoing requirements, council’s permission was not required.
Now the orange fencing is up on the site, making Heritage Vancouver fearful that demolition is about to take place.
“The owner attempted for five years to find a way to save the house, yet all attempts were rejected by City Council,” Heritage Vancouver says.
“We believe that this owner would be open to finding ways to retain the mansion. It is our strong belief that new developments in the City’s Heritage Conservation policies over the past two years since the proposal was approved give the city the opportunity to revisit the decision to demolish this building. Demolition now flies in the face of heritage recommendations outlined in the recently approved West End Plan and in the City’s Heritage Action Plan.”
Heritage Vancouver, which placed the mansion on its “most endangered” list in 2011, is encouraging people to lobby city councillors to stop the demolition until a new development plan can be put in place.
Both a development and building application have been submitted to the City, but not yet issued. Once issued, a demolition permit would follow, Heritage Vancouver says.
If the demolition goes ahead, Heritage Vancouver says it will be the second time that this city council allowed the demolition of an “A” listed property. The first was Marpole Safeway in 2012. 

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