Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Hycroft

Wednesday I had a doctor's appointment and after that I went to see a couple of homes in the Shaugnessy neighbourhood. Today I am going to tell you about the Hycroft.

Architect Thomas Hooper is responsible for this magnificent Second Renaissance Revival style building. It was built during 1909 and 1912 for local businessman and politician Alexander Duncan McRae and the home dates back to the early days of Shaugnessy development. It cost $109,000 to build which was a fortune back then.

The building is of concrete construction and has a distinctive double height portico.

In addition to the house and the coach house there were stables, a swimming pool, an Italian garden, a tea house, pergolas, statuary and a children's playhouse.

When the McRae's moved in this house quickly became the center of Vancouver's social scene and the parties were legendary. The guest list read like an edition of who's who and was made up of such people like visiting royalty, the social elite of Vancouver and such.

In the 1942, due to rising costs and the up keep, the McRaes sold Hycroft to the federal government for the grand sum of one dollar. The house was used by the Federal Department of Veterans' Affairs as a convalescent hospital for war veterans until 1960.

In 1962 the five acre property was subdivided and the stables were demolished. Since women at that time were not allowed to hold mortgages in their own right, any female that wanted to purchase the mansion, coach house, mews house and surrounding grounds had to pay for it in full. And that is just what the University Women's Club of Vancouver did.

It took a year to finalize the purchase and five to restore the manor. The building had been empty for two years without heat or any basic maintenance. But the volunteers kicked out racoons, cut back the grass and blackberry vines and restored Hycroft to its former glory. In 1974 the UWCV was recognized for their efforts when the city presented the club with a Heritage award for their continued maintenance of the house.

Neither a building nor a person can get to be a hundred years old without some legends and stories surrounding lending an air of mystery. And since I still have more photos to show you I will look into some of those tales on Monday.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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