The proposed demolition of the downtown building currently home to Ivana Tea House will further erode Abbotsford’s history, according to Heritage BC.
But the building’s owner has provided photos showing the tea house’s quaint facade bears little resemblance to what the home actually looked like for much of its life.
The executive director of the New Westminster-based non-profit has written a letter to council, urging the city to better protect its heritage buildings. Paul Gravett warns that, if the building is torn down, a part of Abbotsford’s history will be forever lost.
“The loss of ‘Ivana Tea House’ will be doubly significant – a tangible reminder of Abbotsford’s story will vanish from the landscape and the ‘original neighbourhood’ will be forever affected,” Gravett wrote.
In September, council approved a proposal that would result in the demolition of the Montrose Avenue “Gosling House” that is currently home to the tea shop. It would be replaced by a three-storey building with historic elements.
Although the city has designated six downtown buildings with facades that must be preserved by their owners, the Gosling Home was not on that list, in part because it had undergone several renovations over the years, the last of which took place in the 1950s.
But Kendra Redekop, the building’s owner, says there’s little historic about the home’s current look.
“We are aware that the current facade of the building looks very ‘charming’ and most people would assume that this is what it looked like back in 1938 when it was built.” Photos that far back don’t exist, but in 1960, the original house already had a stucco-coated, flat-topped addition built for its Montrose-facing front.
Only after 1999 was the building substantially renovated to include the trim and paint touches that have made the building stand out for the last two decades.
“Our goal is to pay homage to the history of the Gosling family and we are working on gathering more information about the family’s contribution to downtown Abbotsford along with hopefully finding imagery before the 1960s to complement a written history,” Redekop said in an email.
The Heritage BC letter chiefly focuses on the ways cities can engage with their communities to document and prioritize heritage preservation. Gravett’s letter closes by stating that demolition may be unpreventable, but “we hope that the City of Abbotsford will consider the consequences and want to put into place systems that help it make informed decisions.”
A city spokesperson noted in an email that the city has plans to develop “a Heritage Study that will go through a comprehensive planning process driven by community input and stakeholder engagement.”