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Downtown Chilliwack's Brock House receives heritage status
One of the first nights Lyn Williams spent in 2005 in he and his wife’s then “new” heritage house downtown, a thunderstorm rolled over Chilliwack.
If being alone and in a new house wasn’t enough, Williams was in the upstairs bedroom of the one-and-a-half storey Brock House when he heard a tapping on the window.
“I started to get goosey,” the England transplant said.
“I looked out the window and there was a racoon looking at me. I thought I was in an Edgar Allen Poe novel for a moment.”
That’s just one of many memories and stories Lyn and his wife Jennifer Williams have about their decade-long relationship with the home, which received heritage designation with a plaque presented by Mayor Sharon Gaetz last Thursday.
“It is an honour to recognize the Brock House as a historically significant home and to thank the owners for lovingly preserving their home,” Gaetz said.
The home is the latest in the last year to receive a Municipal Heritage Site plaque after Stonehurst and the Gervan Residence received similar plaques last May.
There have been critics of how much importance city hall pays to heritage, pointing to the demolition of the Paramount Theatre and the fact that the city has no heritage committee, a body nearly every other municipality has.
City staff have said that given the low number of requests received to date, the formation of a heritage commission has not been recommended.
Without such a commission, the city pays Vancouver consultant Donald Luxton & Associates to provide a statement of significance.
The Brock House was completed in 1910 and was built by prominent local builder Robert Harvey Brock. The home is a wood-frame Craftsman bungalow, and features a medium-pitched hipped roof.
This was the first home Brock built for himself, but he was known for being the contractor responsible for Central elementary, the original Chilliwack high school, the Agricultural Hall and the Royal Hotel, among others.
Brock House, at 46063 Gore Ave., is located in what was then known as the Mountain View neighbourhood, a burgeoning hot spot for the upper middle class around 1910.
“The wealthy and successful in the growing community chose to build their family homes here,” the Luxton report said.
The irony of how things have changed regarding the social status of the downtown core from 100 years ago to today was not lost on the Williams as Gaetz discussed the history.
“It was very desirable,” Gaetz said. “This was the place to be.”
“It’s changed,” Lyn joked.
Jennifer later pointed out that they loved the home but they had had some misgivings about the neighbourhood.
“It will improve,” Gaetz said.
“We’ve got your word on that?” Jennifer asked.
Gaetz said more than her word; the city had invested considerable money, alluding to the purchase of buildings downtown as part of the overall revitalization strategy.