Broe house gets heritage designation

The Dr. Broe House is awarded heritage status by the Maple Ridge Heritage Commission.

The Dr. Broe House is a 5

The Dr. Broe House is a 5

A local couple who restored a character home have been honoured by the Maple Ridge Heritage Commission.

Becky Robinson and Gary MacNeal purchased the The Dr. Broe House, a 5,000-square-foot structure built in 1927 for the first physician in Hammond, and only the second doctor in Maple Ridge.

The couple received a certificate and a plaque – the latter which Robinson will mount above the doorbell.

Lisa Zosiak, of the district planning department, said the commission has a mandate of creating heritage awareness, and appreciated the couple’s efforts to restore the house to its original stateliness.

“We wanted to celebrate this,” she said. “In the Hammond area, it was a pretty fancy house for the time period.”

Robinson said she and her husband enjoy both antiques and heritage homes, and had an eye on the deteriorating house for years before it came on the market in 2008.

Robinson said the house had been renovated in the 1970s, and there was some psychedelia to purge. They had to pull up blue and orange shag carpets to reveal and restore the fir floors underneath. The grand fireplace’s masonry had been painted over with a bright yellow, and had to be sand blasted. There were even hippy-style flowers on the kitchen cabinets. There aren’t anymore.

Their restoration work took six months, and 5,000 lineal feet of crown and chair-rail moulding.

It is a four-storey house, including the full basement, and it contained secret passages that led from the doctor’s office to a small room, and from there down to the basement, or to a breakfast nook. Whether the doctor was moving about the house in secrecy, or if the passages were added later is not known.

The house even had a brass plate in the dining room floor with a button, which would have been stepped on by the hostess to signal her maid to bring the next course.

She has learned the house has had an interesting history. There have only been three prior owners, but it has been rumoured to have been inhabited by a chimpanzee, a ghost, and an owner who was apparently preparing for the downfall of civilization.

She said Dr. Laurence Broe was a respected doctor, an avid supporter of the Hammond hardball teams and local boxing clubs, as well as an avid bridge player and member of the Alouette Rod and Gun Club.

Robinson said they have put the house back on the market, and it listed at $545,000. She said it has been re-wired and insulated, and most of the heavy lifting has been done on the renovations, but old houses always need some love as they age.

“It is going to take a unique person – it’s going to take a lot of work.”