A few days back, a stately home at 1518 Laurier, just off Granville Street was severely damaged in a suspicious fire. I don't know how many people "tweeted" about it, but I know the event got people in the heritage community all atwitter.
I heard about it in an e-mail from a fellow Heritage Vancouver Society board member, and when I read the subject line my heart gave a jump. I knew he address... I had been hired to research that very house just a while back!
I haven't a clue really why there was a fire and I don't know details about who died and why. No doubt this will all be revealed to us in due time. But I do know the history of the house from the time it was built up until 2001, so here is what I know for those of you who are interested.
First Occupants – The McCrossan Family
The house at 1518 Laurier, originally numbered 3937 Granville Street, first makes its appearance in the city directories in 1913 as the home of Scottish-born Thomas McCrossan. Prior to moving to their new house on Granville Street at Laurier, the McCrossan family lived in the West End at 759 Bute Street. According to the 1911 census, Thomas McCrossan was born in Scotland on the 4th of March, 1834, of Irish heritage. His father’s name was Thomas McCrossan and his mother’s maiden name was Denniston. He came to Canada in 1848 and to BC in 1904. His wife, Jane Macdonald, was born in Ontario on May 21, 1841 of Scottish heritage. Her father’s name was Donald Macdonald. In 1911, two of their children were living with them, 47 year-old electrician John Alexander McCrossan, born in Chatham, Ontario in January of 1864 and their 27 year-old daughter Eva who was born in Manitoba in September of 1883. The McCrossan family were Methodists. John Alexander McCrossan died at 759 Bute Street on December 8, 1911 at the age of 47 and was buried in the Jones Section of Mountain View Cemetery in Plot 04/010/0002.
The 1913 directory gives two addresses for the McCrossan family: “Granville, corner of Laurier” as well as 759 Bute so the new house must have been complete and occupied sometime in 1913.
The Second Owners – The Quagliotti-Romano Family
From 1920 to 1964, 3937 Granville Street was the home of the Quagliotti-Romano family. Hector Quagliotti-Romano was born in Victoria, BC on December 24, 1874 the son of John Quagliotti-Romano and Lucia Bonitti. Hector’s Italian-born father, John Quagliotti-Romano set up a string of trading posts from San Francisco to Lytton, eventually running stores, saloons and small hotels in Victoria, Yale, Lytton and Nanaimo. An article on page 29, 1956 Vancouver Province marking the death of Hector Quagliotti-Romano seems to intimate that John “played a part in setting out many boundaries and areas,” in BC and therefore, “as a result, “Quagliotti-Romanos were guests at many openings of the BC Legislature.” Up until 1956, at least, the one-time family store still stood in Hope. Prior to coming to Vancouver around 1914 Hector had tried his hand at prospecting and later music teaching.
Margaret Jane Quagliotti-Romano traded one hyphenated surname for another in the mid-1940s when she married Douglas MacKay-Dunn, the manager of the Colonial Theatre. The MacKay-Dunns lived at 3377 Dieppe Street.
The MacKay-Dunn Family
The house stood empty for about a year until one of the daughters Margaret Jane MacKay-Dunn moved in with her husband Douglas and their children. Douglas MacKay-Dunn continued to manage The Colonial Theatre until its closure on March 23, 1968, The Quagliotti-Romano daughters sold the theatre to the city for $350,000 in December of the same year.
The MacKay-Dunn family continued to live at 3937 Granville Street until 1998 when they moved to an apartment at 1200-5850 Balsam Street.
Sometime around 1980 the street address of the house was changed from 3937 Granville Street to 1518 Laurier.
From 1999 to 2001 when the last of the Criss-Cross Directories was published the house was home to K. Dukowski. It is impossible to tell from the Criss-Cross Directory listings whether the Dukowski family rented or owned the house. I have heard, but have not been able to confirm, that for some time after 2001 the house served for a while as the home of the Venezuelan Consul General, or may have served as the Venezuelan Consulate. The rest you can read in the papers.
In an earlier iteration of this blog post I wrote "I have heard that the house was designed by renowned architect Samuel Maclure. You an read more about Maclure and the houses and buildings he built in Donald Luxton's fascinating book Building The West: Early Architects of British Columbia, pages 148-155 (in the First Edition), or click on this link: http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0004994"
Thankfully, Donald Luxton read the post and cross-referenced the McCrossan name in a Point Grey building permit application database. He found that the architect was not Samuel MacLure at all. (There were many in the heritage community who doubted it was a MacLure house) Here is what Donald found:
Also, Donald found a mention in the Province (1912-08-10 p.22) "Granville at Laurier - for Mrs. Thomas McCrossan; Jones & Aspell architects; James Stables contractor; Contract let for residence in Shaughnessy Heights"
Here are some more newspaper articles on the Quagliotti-Romano family and the Colonial Theatre.