The full story of B.C. Binning’s house is in Sensational Vancouver
Most municipalities have a heritage inventory that includes houses built before 1940. Makes sense doesn’t it? When you think heritage you think old. But actually heritage can be 20 years old, and that can surprise a new home owner wanting to renovate or demolish who is suddenly hauled in front of a heritage commission.
When the City of Vancouver introduced the Heritage Register in 1986, the foremost concern was saving buildings deemed architecturally important. The register identified prominent Shaughnessy houses such as Glen Brae and Hycroft, Roedde House in the West End, as well as various churches, schools, and public buildings. Recently, the city added 22 modern buildings to the register. Five of these are protected through designation: the former BC Hydro building, the former Vancouver Public Library, the Gardner House in Southlands, the Dodek House in Oakridge and the Evergreen Building.
In 1997, the District of North Vancouver published a modern inventory for houses built between 1930 and 1965. Many are modest looking post and beams designed by local legends Arthur Erickson, Ron Thom, Fred T. Hollingsworth and Ned Pratt.
The Binning Residence at 2968 Mathers Crescent, in West Vancouver and built by Ned Pratt, is maintained by The Land Conservancy and it’s well worth checking out on one of the public tours.
Built in 1941 for $5,000, the house is credited with launching the West Coast modernism movement. Unlike the massive multi-million dollar mansions that surround it, Binning responded to the social and economic condition of the time by using local materials and efficient construction materials to create an affordable house that harmonizes art and architecture, form and function.
A prominent artist who studied under Frederick Varley and Henry Moore, Binning founded the University of B.C.’s department of fine arts. His interest in architecture led him to design large mosaic murals for public buildings such as the B.C. Electric Substation and the series of murals which he painted directly onto the walls of his house.
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