A 116-year-old house rich in B.C. history was saved from demolition and will be moved by barge to a foundation at Union Bay next week.
The Ellerslie at 316 Anson St., on Department of Defence land at Macaulay Point, is a Victorian farmhouse built in 1897 for John Jardine, the MLA for Esquimalt from 1907 to 1912.
Jardine worked in Victoria as a decorator and wood-working craftsman.
The house was declared surplus by DND, but workers from Don Mann Excavating thought it was too nice to tear down, so they contacted Nickel Bros.
“DND wanted it gone — an excavator could have done the job in a weekend,” said Jim Connelly of Nickel Bros., which moves almost 100 homes a year.
“It’s a good day when the machine guys phone you because they don’t want to smash a home to bits,” said Connelly, who described it as “one of the nicest heritage-style houses I’ve seen in a long time. It’s stunning.”
The ceiling lights are encircled by original plaster medallions and much of the wood used in construction is straight grain without knots.
Nickel Bros. got in touch with Ben and Jen Ford to see if they were interested in picking up the $80,000 tab for purchase and moving the house, plus $30,000 for electrical crews to move wires along the way.
The Fords, who support themselves and their four daughters by finding new lots for unwanted homes and selling them, have moved five homes through Nickel Bros. in the past.
But this sixth one — with its 10-foot ceilings, ornate woodwork and four fireplaces — is the best one yet, Ben Ford said Friday.
“The plan was to restore it and sell it, but now we’re starting to wonder,” he said. “I think we’re going to be moving into it — it’s a pretty cool old house.”
The couple had to do two months’ worth of work in about two weeks to meet the tight deadlines “because DND was wanting to get rid of the building one way or the other,” Ford said.
The two-storey, 95-tonne house was moved across a soft, wet field on Friday in preparation for being shifted onto a barge at 4 a.m. Monday. It’s scheduled to arrive in Union Bay on Friday.
“With this one, the biggest challenge was crossing a field to get access to the water,” Connelly said.
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