The West End’s Historic Legg Residence

Comments 2 by Rebecca Bollwitt

With another year comes another battle downtown over a historic property that is slated for demolition to make room for a high-rise. This time around it’s the Legg Residence on Harwood that’s on the chopping block. Listed as one of Heritage Vancouver’s Top 10 Endangered Sites for 2011, it’s one of only three West End estate homes that remain from the turn of the last century.

Legg Residence (1899)
Circa 1914. Photo credit: Heritage Vancouver and Phillippa Wenstob – via Heritage Vancouver on Flickr

What is the threat to the Legg Residence?
The owner of the Legg Residence is seeking to negotiate a Heritage Revitalization Agreement with the City and is planning on restoring this important heritage home located in Vancouver’s West End. [source]

Why is the Legg Residence significant?
The Legg Residence is one of the few surviving grand estate homes built in the West End at the end of the 19th century. This house was under construction in July 1899, just 12 years after the arrival of the CPR railway. Gordon T. Legg, who arrived in Vancouver in 1889, was the manager of Union Steamships of BC, and was one of the founders of the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club. [source]

These manors (like Gabriola on Nicola and Davie, which was most recently the Macaroni Grill) are part of the reason that the West End, in particular West Georgia, was nicknamed “Blue Blood Alley“. They were status symbols that showed off the wealth of the western core of downtown Vancouver at the time which was home to railway executives, coal magnates, and the like. Allegiance to the crown was evident in the architecture and decoration of the homes during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Heritage Vancouver updated their listing of the property this month: “The City has received an application that seeks to demolish the Legg Residence, one of the city’s three remaining grand estate homes from the turn of the 19th century. Heritage Vancouver is now shocked by the alternate proposal to demolish the A-listed building while still allowing a 17-storey tower to be built on the site.” “The demolition of this West End Mansion is absolutely unnecessary and would undermine the credibility of the City of Vancouver’s Heritage Program.”

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According to News 1130, the City will hold an open house on Monday, October 24th from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at Gordon Neighbourhood House. You can attend to learn more about the proposal and voice your opinions on the matter.

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2 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. Rev Barbara MacLennanWednesday, October 12th, 2011 — 4:35pm PDT

    We have ENOUGH high rises in the West end!! But the main thing is that our history is part of who we are, and it is our responsibility to preserve some of it and if the buildings are in good condition then respect the history, make it into a tourist attraction and earn some money for upkeep or something…but tearing down is real easy, but we can never replace was was…and photos are great, but it is also respectful to keep a few artifacts hanging around. Somebody please tell the city planners that life ultimately is not about money!!!!

  2. MichaelTuesday, October 25th, 2011 — 8:10am PDT

    This statement is not correct:
    “The owner of the Legg Residence is seeking to negotiate a Heritage Revitalization Agreement with the City and is planning on restoring this important heritage home located in Vancouver’s West End.”
    There was a previous proposal to negotiate an HRA and restore the house, but City Council turned this back for more review by staff. Instead of an amended HRA, the applicant came forward with a different proposal: to demolish the heritage house, and construct the new tower under the existing zoning. No HRA is currently proposed, and the heritage house is NOT proposed to be restored, by the city or by the developer.

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