Friday, October 15, 2010

The Stuff of Fairy Tales

Walking today was joyous. The sun was shining, the air was warm. I was wearing jeans,sandals and a summer top. I wanted to check the date and make sure it was still October 15. But the foliage told me it was around that time.

Autumn colors highlighted by the blue sky and the brilliant shine of the sun. Not bad for the middle of October.

These homes were built when Vancouver was less than a decade old and they used to fill the neighborhood from Granville to Hastings. These are all indicitive of the Queen Anne style and three of them were built in 1893, the fourth in 1895. When restoration was begun in the 1990s three of the homes were able to be saved. The fourth, the olive green one in the top photo, is a replica.

It`s almost like entering a fairy tale when I walked through the small gate to take these photos. The grounds are impeccably groomed, the houses pristine.

Speaking of fairy tale houses...

The Welwyn Cottage was built in 1926. As you can see it has been lovingly cared for during the past 84 years. I spoke with the current owner who was doing yard work outside. The love he has for this home was evident in the manner in which he spoke about it.

Another aspect of fairy tales is the unique.

Now you might be asking what is unique about this building? It was built in 1913 but it doesn't look that unique. And from a distance I guess it doesn't. But this building was recognized by Ripley as being the narrowest building in the world.

The Sam Kee Building is only 2 metres or six feet deep.  In 1903 the Sam Kee Company was one of the wealthiest firms in Chinatown and bought this standard sized lot. When the city expropriated (fancy word for took) land to expand Pender Street  they took twenty four feet of the lot and businessmen found their space being diminished dramatically. On a bet, Chang Toy, owner of the Sam Kee Company hired architects Brown and Gillam to design this steel framed building. Toy made use of bay windows and public baths below the sidewalk to maximized the space. Considering the almost a hundred years later we are still commenting on the ingenuity of this building I think he won the wager.

We have to thank Jack Chow for hiring architect Soren Rasmussen to design the rehabilitation of this building that was completed in 1986.

And just to be totally above board although both Ripley and the Guiness Book of World Records have considered this to be the narrowest building in the world that status has been challenged by to other buildings in the states.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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