Homeless in Vancouver: Glimpse of an old favourite on Hemlock
The Georgian apartment building on Hemlock Street is one of many grand old buildings that line the main residential streets of Fairview.
I class these as interbellum buildings because they were all built between the two world wars.
The Georgian was built in 1927. Its owner, with the help of a live-in building manager, works hard to keep the building in excellent condition—excellent original condition.
Putting a value on heritage
All other things being equal, the heritage elements of an 87-year-old building can set it apart from other rental stock and attract the kind of tenants who are happy to pay for the privilege of living in a piece of Vancouver’s history.
The few owners of interbellum apartment buildings I have spoken to have all recoiled in horror at the thought of the City of Vancouver slapping their buildings with any degree of restrictive heritage status.
They have insisted they need unfettered freedom to preserve their building as they see fit; which is to say they prefer that it be the marketplace that pressures them to keep their buildings in original condition rather some government bureaucrats.
Well, as long as it gets the job done.
Aside from intrinsic architectural features such as high ceilings, sash windows, and such, the Georgian still boasts many of its original fittings including all but one of its original cast-iron bathtubs, each weighing more than 180 kilograms.
The one tub that had to be replaced needed to be cut up and broken into pieces before it could be removed from the building, it was so large. It was replaced with a large fiberglass tub.
All the original 1920s stoves are long gone—the building manager described the process of replacing those monsters as “difficult”.
The Georgian is simple and austere to look at from the outside but I’ve been told it’s different story on the inside, and I’ve been promised that someday soon my camera and I will get a chance to see for ourselves.