2896 West 6th Avenue; plus many other schools
One of the most striking elements of Vancouver’s Heritage landscape is the sprinkling of landmark heritage schools throughout the city.
Each has its own unique story, harbours shared memories and is cherished by members of its community. Many of these treasured schools will soon be disappearing – General Gordon Elementary [demolished] and Dickens School [demolished] are both slated for demolition in 2008 with more to come in the near future.
General Gordon’s history is as old as the neighbourhood. The original section was built at West 6th and Bayswater in 1911-13, then the western edge of residential development.
The red and yellow brick building – an example of Edwardian classicism in school design – features pediment-like gables, decorative brick quoins, Renaissance-inspired pilasters and multiple-paned wood-sash windows all contributing to the school’s ‘B’ listing on the Heritage Register and its importance as a neighbourhood landmark.
Why all of a sudden are many of Vancouver’s heritage schools in the endangered category?
The province has initiated a seismic mitigation program which doesn’t distinguish between heritage and non-heritage buildings.
Unfortunately its funding formula favours new construction over rehabilitation.
It has become abundantly clear that the new schools will have less community and amenity space and shorter life spans. They have none of the landmark status or architectural character of what they are replacing.
Heritage Vancouver is involved with a number of community groups in an initiative to bring the Provincial Government, the Vancouver School Board and the City of Vancouver together to find a solution to achieve the two important goals of seismic mitigation and heritage preservation, which are not mutually exclusive.
Update October 29, 2008: Charles Dickens school has now been fully demolished (1912-2008). See our 2005 Top Ten listing for this school.