I have for a number of years been drawn to a wonderful Edwardian House in old Fernie that is not only a beautiful example of the Craftsman style but is also a fantastic example of how to renovate, expand and restore a period house. The owners of this house, Doug and Deb, were confronted by a very daunting challenge, they needed to restore parts of the house that were literally falling apart or collapsing, they needed to do renovations in order to bring modern electrical wiring, plumbing and heating into the house as well as insulate the house and deal with window issues. They also needed to take the garage which was not original and did not suit the house and make a usable garage, as well as, add space to suit their lifestyle needs. It would, said one of the owners, have been cheaper and easier to tear it all down and build a new house. But Doug and Deb determined that they would not do that. They immediately saw the beauty of the house and were smitten by how pretty it was, how the lines worked and how graceful the entire structure was. As importantly they didn’t just see the beauty of the house they also recognized that they had a duty to save the house.
Restoration is in Deb’s blood – her father loved to restore houses and Deb and Doug also rehabilitated the Huckleberry Plaza on Victoria Avenue. These owners are the kind of people who deserve a heritage house because they are the kind of people who like to preserve something even when it is challenging to do so. But then they are the kind of people who like to fix things and live with a credo that you don’t throw things out just because they are old. Indeed I was told that they are still storing those bits and pieces of the house that they couldn’t’ use during the restoration of the house – because “you never know when you or someone might need it”.
The owners were very dedicated to doing right by the house and by their own needs within the house. They had a clear vision for the house, but wisely engaged assistance from professionals who were able to assist them in fine tuning that vision and in translating that vision into plans and a final result. It was very important to the couple that any changes they made would be in keeping with the original flavour of the house. Much of the interior of the house is also in either good original or restored condition and all of it feels authentic and comfortable as a Craftsman was meant to be. Clearly the vision and diligence of the owners paid off. The house joins the list of one of the best restorations in Fernie. When I asked the couple whether they thought it was worth it they were unanimous in agreeing that despite the cost and inconvenience it was an excellent trade off. Deb said she wished they had done it sooner so that their (now adult) children would have been able to enjoy living longer in the house – but I am sure they love visiting this house, as did I.
The owners believe the house was an Eaton’s mail order house which was built in 1906, if this is the case the house either survived the Fernie Fire of 1908 or as was more likely it was sufficiently intact to be rebuilt after the fire. The house is still sometimes referred to as the Dr. Cook house and he certainly was one of the owners. A later owner of the house was Mayor Dick Mulholland who was a mayor of Fernie in the early 1990’s.
The owners believe that it is important for the heritage houses of Fernie to be preserved and we can be very glad that they preserved this wonderful Craftsman.