Modern Touches Honour The Past

In Featured Heritage Tour Home

Photo by Mario Bartel Kathryn Matts enjoys a cup of coffee on the stoop of her 1912 Craftsman house across from Moody Park. The house is being featured in this year's 36th annual Heritage Homes tour to be held May 29.
Photo by Mario Bartel
Kathryn Matts enjoys a cup of coffee on the stoop of her 1912 Craftsman house across from Moody Park. The house is being featured in this year’s 36th annual Heritage Homes tour to be held May 29.

The Heritage Homes Tour has been a New Westminster tradition for 37 years. This year’s tour will be held Sunday, May 29, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Kathryn Matts grew up in a heritage home on Queen’s Avenue. So when she and husband Brian decided in 2009 to move their family back to New Westminster from Burnaby, she knew she wanted to surround herself with walls that breathed history.

Finding the George and Delina Reid House on 10th Street was love at first sight, said Matts.

Photo by Mario Bartel Copper coach lamps around the home's exterior are also original.
Photo by Mario Bartel
Copper coach lamps around the home’s exterior are also original.

The Craftsman house was built in 1911 and still features the original shingles and clapboard siding on its exterior. Inside, the hardwood floors, wooden ceiling beams, dark fir panels, leaded glass doors and 17 stained glass windows are all original, as are some of the art deco lamps.

“It’s pretty amazing when you think of everything that survived,” said Matts.

The house was occupied by CPR warehouseman Joseph H. Method from 1925-26, and then by rancher Alex McPhail and his family until 1963.

Subsequent owners made some changes, like building an illegal suite in the basement; but the bones, the home’s character, endured.

Photo by Mario Bartel The kitchen was completely rebuilt and modernized with an open plan.
Photo by Mario Bartel
The kitchen was completely rebuilt and modernized with an open plan.

Matts knew they’d have to respect that legacy as they modernized their new home to accommodate  her family and their contemporary lifestyle. Electrical and plumbing systems were updated, a music room was converted to a laundry room and powder room. But the biggest change was to the kitchen, which was moved to the opposite side of the house, enlarged and opened up to a family room.

A fireplace was sacrificed, but other details were painstakingly honoured.

“Some things had to go,” said Matts. “We wanted to keep elements that were really important.”

Photo by Mario Bartel The house features 17 stained glass windows, all of them original.
Photo by Mario Bartel
The house features 17 stained glass windows, all of them original.

Each piece of dark wood moulding was removed, numbered, restored and then put back into place, like a puzzle. A pair of stained glass windows from the old music room were given new frames and a new home in the family room. The oak floor was matched to the finish of the original floors elsewhere in the house. New pocket doors between the kitchen and dining room were patterned and finished after the originals, still in place between the dining room and front parlour. An original archway in the front entrance was recreated at the hallway’s other end, leading into the family room.

Photo by Mario Bartel The front entrance features the original fir wood panels as well as leaded glass windows.
Photo by Mario Bartel
The front entrance features the original fir wood panels as well as leaded glass windows.

“It’s the best of both worlds,” said Matts. “I want people to see they can have the kitchen of their dreams with an open concept feeling, but still hold onto the heritage value. Living in a heritage home isn’t all creaky floors and drafts.”

Tickets for this year’s Heritage Homes Tour are already available online. General sale of tickets begins Saturday, May 7 at: Benjamin Moore Royal City Colours, 700 Twelfth St.; Cadeaux Gifts, 467 Columbia St. East;  Champagne Taste Home, 1101 Royal Ave.; GardenWorks at Mandeville, 4746 Marine Dr., Burnaby; New West Archives, on the second floor of the Anvil Centre, 777  Columbia St.

Tickets are $35 or $30 for members of the New Westminster Heritage Preservation Society.

Homes and buildings on this year’s tour will also feature visual and performing art by members of the Arts Council.

 

 

Mario Bartel

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