History · Uncategorized · urban design · Vancouver

Moving House With Breakfast

Doing a bit of research recently I came across a picture of lovely looking Craftsman style house in the December 6, 1947 edition of the Vancouver Sun but instead of a house surrounded by a garden this house was was sitting on a flatbed trailer. This was the home of Mr C. L. Bennett and family, and they were moving house literally. The caption under photograph read: Fifteen Block Haul was necessary Friday to move the home of C. L. Bennett five blocks from 488 West Twentieth. Reliable House Movers took the long route to avoid wires. The Bennett family calmly ate breakfast in the house during its hour of street travel.

Intrigued, I was curious about the house and the Bennetts.

House moving was a common practice in the city at one point. I often come across houses which have been relocated sometimes to one side of a large property or across the street and sometimes further afield. Early houses were easy to move in part because of their balloon frame construction. A balloon frame is built with studs that extend two stories from sill to plate. The second floor is essentially suspended from the frame and is why older houses seem to have upper floors that bounce a bit. This form of construction has been replaced by platform framing, essentially stacking the floors on top of each other.

The Bennetts were Charles and his wife Catherine and they lived at 488 West 19th. Avenue, not Twentieth Avenue as reported in the newspaper. The house was moved to sit opposite Douglas Park at 823 W. 20th Avenue. As you can see from the photograph the house is an attractive Craftsman bungalow, it was designed by M.F. Blackwell a local architect and later Point Grey school trustee. Blackwell designed a few houses on the east side of the city and in the West End.

Charles was retired by the time his house was moved, but he had been quite active in the real estate business. In the years before the First World War he was with Dow and Fraser a prominent financial and real estate firm in the early city. He also dabbled in development, the permit records show he erected a set of stores in the 2900 block of Commercial Drive in 1914. His wife was very active with Chown Memorial United Church where she served in a number of capacities well in to the 1960s.

Mr Bennett kept a reasonably low profile and only appeared in the paper a couple of times. A year prior to the house move he reported a theft from his garden of two “mammoth clam shells” weighing about 10 pounds each. The clam shells were popular with thieves as a similar shell had been stolen from the garden in 1941.

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