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Vancouver neighbourhood group celebrates 100-year-old homes

Campaign launches this weekend with birthday cake event

Signs of East Side pride are popping up in Grandview-Woodland, not in the form of graffiti, public art or banners, but markers celebrating 100-year-old homes.

The burgeoning Grandview Heritage Group will officially launch its Centenary Houses celebration campaign this Saturday, Aug. 18, with a sign posting and birthday cake event at two beautiful old homes at 1710 and 1718 Victoria Drive, just south of First Avenue.

Grandview Heritage Group member Penny Street spotted signs marking 100-year-old houses in Portland's Irvington neighbourhood a year ago.

"We thought that's a fabulous idea because there are some amazing one hundred-year-old houses in this neighbourhood that aren't necessarily on the heritage register," Street said.

"Back in the early days, a lot of people thought that Grandview was going to be the fanciest neighbourhood in the city, that it was going to be the Shaughnessy and they built beautiful big mansions here. So there are probably a dozen gorgeous mansions in this neighbourhood that are still standing and some of them are under threat."

The heritage group will post large signs in front of two-dozen houses and buildings built in 1912 or earlier over the next few weeks. "A lot of the treasure houses in the neighbourhood were actually built in 1910 so we've put up a couple of signs that say this house is 102 years old instead of 100," Street said.

Houses on Venables, Pandora, Adanac, Franklin, Charles and Napier streets, Lakewood and Victoria Drive will be identified with signs. Historian and Grandview Heritage Group member Jak King hopes to convince owners of buildings completed in 1912 on Commercial Drive to approve signs.

The group plans to reuse the signs next year for buildings constructed in 1913. "It's going to be kind of interesting because between 1914 and 1918, which was World War One, not very much happened in the construction industry in this part of town," Street said. "So we're not going to have very many opportunities to put our signs up [in 2013], so we might make a lot more signs that say this house is 105 years old."

The Grandview Heritage Group formed a year and a half ago as an offshoot of the Grandview-Woodland Area Council in advance of the city's community planning process for the area. "We really need to protect the heritage that we have in this community," Street said. "It needs to be monitored."

The group includes historians Michael Kluckner, who wrote Vanishing Vancouver: The Last 25 Years, and Bruce Macdonald, author of Vancouver: A Visual History. Group members have led two walking tours, are planning a lecture series and meet for public discussions on the third Thursday of every month at Britannia Community Centre.

The group raised money and received a Neighbourhood Small Grant of $350 from the Vancouver Foundation and $350 from the city's Grandview-Woodland community plan team for its Centenary Houses project. Street encouraged anyone who believes they reside in a notable Grandview-Woodland home built in 1912 to contact the group. For more information, see The event starts at 10 a.m.

Twitter: @Cheryl_Rossi