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Rolfe House awarded heritage status from the City of Chilliwack

 

 

 

Chilliwack mayor Sharon Gaetz presents Rolfe House owners Anthony and Gerry Britton the Heritage House designation plaque.

 

 

STAFF—VOICE PHOTOS

TUESDAY—OCTOBER—2

 

ill Rolfe would be smiling if he knew the home he had built in 1921 at 45621 Wellington Avenue received the city's highest heritage honour last Friday when Mayor Sharon Gaetz presented the current owners, Anthony and Gerry Britton, with the City of Chilliwack Heritage House designation plaque. It represents a plan to foster awareness of the city's cultural heritage as part of the Official Community Plan.

“It is a pleasure to participate in the preservation of this piece of Chilliwack’s history and to look back on the contributions that previous owners made to our community,” said Gaetz. “The current owners of the Rolfe House are very deserving of this recognition for their continuous efforts to retain its heritage value and aesthetic qualities.”
 

The dining area with a table that seats twelve. Below, sizing up the plaque.


It was 1921. Just under 1800 people made their homes in Chilliwack proper. Wellington Ave was bush and land owners were busy cutting trees on their plots to make room for homes they were constructing. The First World War ended in August when the U.S. and Germany signed the Treaty of Berlin and the League of Nations was established and it was the year the great Babe Ruth hit a record-breaking 138 homeruns.

Chilliwack was experiencing an economic boom in 1921. It was a time when a pair of coveralls and work boots cost less than $10. A dozen eggs for 47¢ and peaches were 17¢/lb. When 20¢ could buy you a gallon of gas for your 1920 Chevrolet 490 Touring automobile – if you could afford it. BC Electric to New Westminster was a short walk to the railway at Young. Newsies stood on street corners selling papers. But unbeknownst to residents, 8 years later in 1929, the stock market would crash and "Black Friday" happens causing the depression.

 

The dining area with a table that seats twelve. Below, sizing up the plaque.


The house is testament to the era and to the craftsmanship of Charles Edward Woodruff, a local building contractor, who erected the mansion-like house for William Thomas Rolfe, a dry goods businessman, for his wife Gertrude and their two children to live. Rolfe was born the year the Civil War ended and died when Glen Miller, Benny Goodman and Bing Crosby were chart-toppers.


In the front yard of the majestic mansion-style house is a huge willow tree that no one knows the age of.
 

Mayor Gaetz enjoys the comfy verandah.


You climb the stairs that countless numbers of feet have been before up to a long and wide front porch. It must have been one of the most significant areas in the house for guests, kids, workers or just to sit back and watch the sun roll by. Inside are rooms upon rooms. The original handmade floor still looks as shiny and perfect as the day it was made.

In the living room sits a grand piano next to the cozy fireplace.

"I play a little," said Anthony, and pointing at the table in the dining room, "This table can seat 12," he added with pride.

A small sitting room is off to the side. In the stairwell leading to the bedrooms is an ornate leaded glass panel.

 

"This has lasted through earthquakes and everything else," said the Britton's son-in-law.



A group photo with Karen Stanton (l to r) Anthony and Gerry Britton and, Mayor Sharon Gaetz.

 

According to city heritage bylaw, the house can't be altered on the exterior, with the exception of a young boy's initials carved in a wooden tile on the side from decades ago. But aside from normal repairs, and keeping the house up to snuff, the interior remains in it's original condition.

"We've kept it all inside as it was," said Gerry.

Back in 1921.
 

 


 


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