The Heritage Vancouver Society has named its 10th Annual Top Ten Endangered Sites list today and the 1927-built Kitsilano High School tops the list. Throughout the year, Heritage Vancouver monitors the status of our heritage sites, and this list includes the resources for which they have the gravest concerns.
Our historic schools define our community identity and symbolize the value that we have placed in public education. They are highly valued by the community, and many of them are now threatened with demolition, among them Kitsilano Secondary School, which is one of the more significant school structures in Vancouver. It is listed on the City of Vancouver Heritage Register, and in the 2007 report “Vancouver Schools â€” Establishing Their Heritage Value” Kits Secondary scored 25 out of a possible 25 points â€” which places it in the â€˜Superior’ category. This significant heritage school and community landmark has been an important place in Vancouver’s educational history and in the memory of many Kitsilano families.
This landmark structure was originally built on an impressive scale and reveals the high value the community placed on public education. Its main building is set prominently on a rise along West 10th Avenue. Adding to the imposing nature of the building are three stairways set into the school’s strikingly landscaped grounds. Each stairway consists of rounded concrete walls and columns leading from the sidewalk at the corner edges of the property onto the grounds of the school. An additional grand stairway centered on 10th Avenue leads to the main entrance. Of particular interest are the three arched recessed entrances facing 10th Avenue, of which the main central entrance is adorned with the school name and leads into an inner lobby displaying a student memorial to those who died fighting in WWII. The building’s interior was designed to be naturally lit, with high ceilings, which permit large operable windows and good ventilation and broad hallways boasting natural light.
The original main three-storey structure facing 10th Avenue was designed by Vancouver VSB staff architect Frank A.A. Barrs and built between 1926 and 1927, in the Collegiate Gothic style popular for learning institutions at the time. In 1958, as the neighbourhood grew to accommodate the post-WWII housing construction boom, a Modernist-style addition designed by school architect Allan B. Wilson was erected to the south side of the original building. Later, a third expansion occurred in 1973 with the addition of a single storey exposed concrete structure on the southeast corner of the property. All of these annexes revealed changing approaches to both education and architecture.
Last modified: April 21, 2010