Crews moved in to raze the 1908 George E. Lawrence house near the northeast corner of 184 Street and Fraser Highway.

Crews moved in to raze the 1908 George E. Lawrence house near the northeast corner of 184 Street and Fraser Highway.

Clayton heritage home to be rebuilt

The George E. Lawrence home, built in 1908, was on the City of Surrey's heritage register.

  • Feb. 26, 2014 8:00 a.m.

One of Surrey’s oldest homes has fallen prey to the bulldozer, despite efforts by the City of Surrey and the developer to preserve the Clayton heritage building for a new chapter of Surrey history.

Crews moved in to raze the 1908 George E. Lawrence house near the northeast corner of 184 Street and Fraser Highway.

The one-and-a-half-storey house was one of the few remaining examples of a typical farmhouse built in Surrey during the pre-World War I era.

It originally belonged to a city councillor who served in 1905 and 1906, and was part of a property that is being turned into a 71-townhome development called Mackenzie Estates.

Alternately derided as a neglected eyesore and championed as a heritage treasure, it had been vacant for as long as a decade; arsonists had struck twice, and the home had been fenced in to thwart vandals and squatters.

It was protected by a Heritage Revitalization Agreement with the City of Surrey setting it aside for preservation as a condition of the townhome development being built by the Mann Group, who were planning to relocate it to another part of the property for use as an amenity building, and completely restore the home, which was on the city’s heritage register.

However, engineers hired by the developer wouldn’t sign off on moving the building, declared unsafe by WorkSafe B.C.

http://raven.b-it.ca/portals/uploads/cloverdale/.DIR288/wFireFraserHwyand192St.jpgThe city subsequently agreed to allow the developer to demolish the home and build an exact replica, using as many original materials as possible.

“For a few years, we were of the opinion that it could be moved,” Don Luymes, Surrey’s manager of community planning, said last week, explaining a structural consultant had previously said the building could be safely moved, but a more recent assessment by a company hired by the developer determined the 116-year-old wood structure would not survive the move.

But because there has been a loss of heritage value, the developer has also had to pay a “fairly substantial” fine of $100,000.

“A replica house is nice, but it’s not the real thing,” Luymes said.

[At left, firefighters respond to a suspicious blaze at the George E. Lawrence home in 2010. – file]

He agreed the prospect of moving the George E. Lawrence home had been greeted with a “lot of raised eyebrows,” over the years, “but our clear preference would have been to move the house, and restore it in situ, but it became clear that it was unsafe to put workers in there and it probably would have fallen apart if it had been moved.”

The fine goes into a restricted fund to pay for upcoming heritage projects, at the discretion of the city’s heritage advisory commission.

“It could be used for moving another heritage house, or restoration works,” he said. “There’s a range of projects the commission can decide to use that money for.”

The developer intends to start construction on the replica heritage home soon, and has paid a bonded security to firm up the commitment to rebuild.

“Money is being held to make sure it does happen.”

Architectural drawings have been made based on measurements of the house.

When the townhouse development was approved, the City of Surrey took a strip of land along Fraser Highway for a future greenway, meaning the home had to be relocated. It also stood very close to the roadway.

Real estate representative Jolly Saluja said the replica will be used as an amenity building for residents.

He said the original building’s structure was weak, and there were hazards like asbestos tiles.

“Worksafe BC wouldn’t let anyone go inside to fix it up,” Saluja said, adding there were problems in every direction. “If there weren’t, the house would have been saved, no question.”

The plans are still being drawn up, but Saluja said the replica will have a meeting space and a yoga studio for residents.

A public greenway is in the works, and the City of Surrey is creating a storyboard highlighting the home’s history.

“We want it to be usable to the community and the people who live on the site,” Saluja said.

The first residents of Mackenzie Estates are already moving in, and by the end of March he expects 10 to 15 families will be living on the site.

Saluja said he’s spoken with a former resident of the home who lived there during the 1940s and ‘50s, and hopes to invite her to the grand opening.

Follow the Cloverdale Reporter on Twitter and Facebook. View our print edition online.

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia’s (CFSEU-BC) Uniform Gang Enforcement Team (UGET) has arrested a man who was on the run for nearly a decade. (File photo)
9-year search for international drug trafficking suspect ends with arrest at YVR

Khamla Wong, charged in 2012, taken into custody Feb. 24 by BC-CFSEU

Pixabay image
Surrey council moves to update city’s telecommunication antennas policy

But councillor says health and safety protocols are nearly 40 years old

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum speaks at a press conference in August about provincial government approval of the city’s change to a municipal force, joined by councillors (from left) Mandeep Nagra, Allison Patton and Doug Elford. Members of the National Police Federation claim there is still no transition plan in place although Surrey RCMP’s contract with the city is due to end March 31.(File photo)
National Police Federation members slam Surrey police transition to Surrey Board of Trade

During virtual meeting, bargaining unit representatives say municipal force ‘not a done deal’

Boosh Food founder Connie Marples (right) delivers some Boosh Food items to Christine Mohr, CEO of Options Community Services, in December, 2020. Boosh Food has just moved their operations to Cloverdale. (Photo: Moonraker PR)
Boosh Food moves to Cloverdale

‘Plant-based comfort food’ company moving to 65A Avenue

B.C. Court of Appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Court makes public ‘abbreviated’ reasons for judgment in Surrey Six slaying appeals

Six men were murdered in suite 1505 of the Balmoral Tower in Whalley on Oct. 19, 2007

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen, all 20, drown in the Sooke River in February 2020. (Contributed photos)
Coroner confirms ‘puddle jumping’ in 2020 drowning deaths of 3 B.C. men

Cory Mills, Eric Blackmore and A.J. Jensen pulled into raging river driving through nearby flooding

Castlegar doctor Megan Taylor contracted COVID-19 in November. This photo was taken before the pandemic. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay doctor shares experience contracting COVID-19

Castlegar doctor shares her COVID experience

Shaelene Keeler Bell. (Facebook)
Candlelight vigil planned for Chilliwack mother missing for four weeks

Virtual event to ‘spread some light’ for 23-year-old Shaelene Bell of Chilliwack

Ashley Paxman, 29, is in the ICU after being struck by a vehicle along Highway 97 Feb. 18, 2021. She remains in critical condition. (GoFundMe)
Okanagan woman in ICU with broken bones in face after being struck by car

She remains in serious condition following Feb. 18 incident

Vancouver International Women in Film Festival kicks off March 5.
Women in Film Festival features two B.C. filmmakers

The 16th annual festival kicks off March 5, 2021

The booklet roots present day activism in the history of racist policies, arguing the history must be acknowledged in order to change. (CCPA)
New resource dives into 150 years of racist policy in B.C.

Racist history must be acknowledged in order to change, authors say

Most Read