Dunbar Craftsman among highlights of heritage house tour

Vancouver Heritage Foundation event opens doors into city's history and architecture

The kitchen in David Clarke and Fraser Norrie’s home, which was built in 1913, looks almost identical to the original kitchen, right down to the sink.

Clarke and Norrie have spent years maintaining and preserving the house’s integrity.

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“It isn’t perfect, but there’s a level of comfort,” explained Clarke, an interior designer.

The Dunbar Craftsman is among nine historic homes featured in Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s 14th annual heritage house tour on June 5.

Clarke and Norrie’s “proletariat arts and crafts” styling of the interior complements the house’s history, and their renovation stands out in a city grappling with high levels of demolition, densification and urban development.

“The street in front there used to be a salmon creek,” said Norrie as he pointed to Dunbar Street.

“This used to be a forest, where we’re standing. This house and our neighbour’s [house] were the first ones in the subdivision,” Clarke added.

The Lee family built the home more than a century ago. Clarke and Norrie, a family doctor, are only the second homeowners, having moved in 19 years ago.

“It’s just us, the cat Sophie, and George,” said Clarke, noting George was the original homeowner.

“When we were told there was a ghost in our home, we just thought, ‘Bring it on! The more the merrier.’”

When asked whether they believe in ghosts, they joked, “We’ll believe in anything!”

The three-bedroom, three-storey home offers an intimate and charming glimpse into the owners’ warm and relaxed way of life.

Inside, the walls are adorned with African masks and decorated with bold centrepieces and souvenirs from the couple’s travels.

With all the original woodwork intact and the framework unaltered, the home illustrates what the Heritage House Tour has to offer, down to the handmade quilt of passed family members’ shirts and ties laid across the bed.

Other homes in the one-day, self-guided tour include the historic WilMar estate and the Barber Residence.

WilMar, located on Southwest Marine Drive, has been untouched and unfurnished for almost a decade, but the property may be redeveloped.

The Barber Residence was built in 1936 and is one of the city’s few examples of Art Moderne residential architecture. It was restored and revitalized by architect Robert Lemon and designer Robert Ledingham.

The proceeds of the fundraising tour will pay for the Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s grants for heritage conservation and educational programming, said Kathryn Morrow, a foundation spokesperson.

“It will essentially help us continue our work educating about and promoting retention of Vancouver’s historic sites and buildings,” she wrote in an email to the Courier.

Tickets for the tour, which runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., June 5, are $40, or $30 with a valid student identification. For more details, go to vancouverheritagefoundation.org or call 604-264-9642.  



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