Vancouver’s architecture is often difficult to distinguish as many of its homes are adaptations or amalgamations of more recognized styles. By cataloguing them, we gain an understanding of our homes and neighbourhoods, which gives us all a sense of pride in our city. With this is mind, the Vancouver Heritage Foundation provides Scout with an exclusive series that we call The Roof Over Your Head.
In contrast to splashy Victorians with their elaborate trims and colours, the Edwardian is strongly influenced by the American “Four-Square” style which is typified by a box shaped floor plan, divided into four large rooms on the main floor. The simplified form of the Edwardian, which often came from a stock plan book, became extremely popular in Vancouver, with a variety of both simple family homes, and more embellished upscale examples with Classical detailing and proportion.
Like the American Four-Square, the Edwardian is a large box from the street. The exterior features a hipped roof, with a matching roof over the front porch. Many have sleeping porches, essentially a covered or partially enclosed balcony on the upper level, and bay windows on the lower level. The lower porch usually extended across the full width of the home, but was limited to the entry quadrant in more elaborate Classical versions. This allowed the elaborate living room window –sometimes with a Palladian (half arched) window, of these elegant homes to be showcased. Some of the Edwardians with a u-shaped interior stairwell projected out in a square bay beyond the plain sides of the house.
Windows were usually double-hung, with stained glass transom windows appearing on the higher ceilinged houses along with sidelights flanking the front door. Wainscoting with sympathetic detail such as a built-in hall bench is present in houses with the u-shaped stairwell. Classical versions had a columned front porch with elaborate brackets under the planked soffits and dentil ranges on the fascia. The exterior is most often finished with narrow lap siding, sometimes with stone at the base.
Edwardians of all scale and grandeur are found all over Vancouver, however there are some prime examples in Grandview Woodlands, Mole Hill, and the West End.
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. VHF supports Vancouver’s built history by offering educational tours, talks and lectures, courses, and special events. Launched early in 2013, the Vancouver House Styles Architectural Web Tool is a free online reference cataloguing Vancouver’s common architectural styles.