Vancouver Heritage Foundation Weekly: Alberta Street Gems

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Vancouver Heritage Foundation is a registered charity supporting the conservation of heritage buildings and structures in recognition of their contribution to the city’s economy, sustainability and culture.
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Heritage House located on Alberta Street. Photo credit: Thomas Rasmussen.

The section of Alberta Street that runs from 2nd to 16th Avenues is a short stretch with lots of history. Incredibly there are 15 houses located here that appear on the City of Vancouver’s Heritage Register. Most were built in the early-1900s, not long after the arrival of the electric streetcar created a development boom in Mount Pleasant. Like many other streets, Alberta saw rapid change.

In 1911, a property on Alberta was redeveloped and an 1892 house torn down. In its place a classic Craftsman style home was built. Still standing today, it’s a neighbourhood favourite for its bright blue colour. It was designed by architect and builder James Bruce Arthur who built and sold several other local residences, often using a similar design. This home was included on the Heritage Register along with many other fine Mt. Pleasant homes, particularly south of West Broadway.

The blue house on Alberta hasn’t always looked this way. As heritage buildings change hands, they frequently see modifications and a variety of paint schemes. Over the decades, it has been the home of Clara Marsh (widow of Arthur Marsh, owner of Hotel Astor on W. Hastings), Walter Walburn (Walburn Neon Ltd.), and retired CPR conductor Harry Buckley who, in 1937, converted it into a rooming house—a common fate for larger homes at the time. Here’s the same house in 1978, photographed by the City of Vancouver’s Planning Department.

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Alberta Street heritage homes in 1978, City of Vancouver Archives, CVA 780-244.

This and other historic buildings in Vancouver can be found on our Heritage Site Finder; it’s a map you can easily get lost in. Why not go for a walk and take this handy resource with you?

And if you’d like to see inside a beautiful Mt. Pleasant home of the same era, join our Heritage House Tour on June 5th—a wonderfully restored Alberta St. house is just one of many stops!

Sources: Mount Pleasant Historic Context Statement, Changing Vancouver, City of Vancouver Heritage Inventory, Vancouver Voyager. Thanks to Shona Lam for research assistance.