The Coghlan Substation is 108 years old and once provided power to electric trains that took people and farm produce up and down the Fraser Valley. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

Historic B.C. building gets facelift with help from Sabrina series

Langley’s 108-year-old Coghlan Substation is seeing use in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

A bit of Hollywood magic helped restore part of one of Langley’s most iconic but least-known historic buildings.

Langley viewers watching Chilling Adventures of Sabrina may not realize that the Academy of Unseen Arts is just down the road.

The new Netflix drama, based on the Archie Comics character Sabrina the Teenage Witch, sees Sabrina switch from her normal, human high school to an institution that teaches conjuring and the dark arts.

The exterior shots of the Academy of Unseen Arts were provided by the Coghlan Substation, a power station on the B.C. Electric Rail (BCER) line that ran through the Lower Mainland.

Owner Bryant Ross was pleased that the producers provided resources to help clear away an old shed that had covered up part of the building’s facade for more than half a century.

“I’ve been here 30 years now, and it’s the first time I’ve seen the whole front,” said Ross.

Built in 1910, Coghlan was one of a series of five substations that provided electricity to the trains that traveled between New Westminster and Chilliwack, as well as to surrounding farmers.

• READ MORE: New signs for century-old substation

Since 1987, the building has been owned by Ross, who uses it as an art studio. Over the years it has been used by many well-known artists, including painters Norval Morrisseau, Issac Bignel, and Gerry Meeches, and Northwest Coast carvers Gene Brabant and the Hunt Family.

After the BCER shut down in the 1950s, a glass-making company bought the building. The new owners tore the front steps off the power station and built a wooden shed-like structure along the whole lower front of the building, covering up the former front door and several windows.

“The hard part was getting rid of that shed,” said Ross. He tore down part of it, but earlier this year, the producers of Sabrina came calling.

They cleared away much of the rest of the structure.

While they didn’t replace the front steps with permanent stairs, there’s now a plywood staircase treated to look like stone or cement. It gives visitors a good idea what the building looked like in its heyday.

Eventually, Ross would like to fully restore the front of the building.

“There’s still lots to do,” he said.

Windows need caulking, and the aging pitch-and-gravel roof is in need of replacing.

“Hopefully, there’ll be more movies, because that’s what I use to pay for it,” he said.

Multiple film and TV productions have used the structure over the past decade, ranging from Hallmark movies of the week to the CW series Supernatural.

“They ended up blowing it up in Supernatureal, with CGI,” Ross noted.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has continued to film there several times, as recently as early November, Ross said.

Located in the 6800 block of 256th Street, the building attracts a lot of attention from rural drivers and cyclists who find it suddenly appearing out of the trees next to the railway tracks.

Coghlan Station, and the surrounding Coghlan area, was named after BCER employees and Langley pioneers Henry and Nathaniel Coghlan, two brothers who cut more than 20,000 railway ties for the rail company during the line’s construction through the Fraser Valley.

The only other remaining substation from the BCER line stands in Sumas, where it has been converted into a private home.

The area around the building was also the scene of a grisly murder shortly after its construction.

Two Italian labourers working nearby got into a dispute. It ended when one man killed the other, cut off his head, and threw it down the power station’s well.

_________________________________

Is there more to this story?

mclaxton@langleyadvance.com

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

_________________________________

 

(Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

Actress Kiernan Shipka, who plays Sabrina, approached the “Academy for Unseen Arts” in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. (Warner Bros. Television/Netflix)

Just Posted

Dingwall’s run for mayor cost almost $14K

Election spending reported on disclosure statements

Flames take first playoff game in double overtime

Tucek named first star, Georgeopolous scores the game winner for Ridge

Attackers with acid burn Maple Ridge couple in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Executive director leaving Ridge Meadows Hospice Society

Vosper leaving ‘big shoes to fill’

Names keep adding to vaccine petition

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Man taken to hospital for smoke inhalation, burns after fire at RV park

Firefighters find man suffering from smoke inhalation, burns to face and hands: battalion chief

Wilson-Raybould resignation stokes anger, frustration within veterans community

Liberals have had three veterans-affairs ministers — Kent Hehr, Seamus O’Regan and Wilson-Raybould

No Center of Gravity festival in Kelowna this summer: organizers

COG organizers said the hope is to return to the Okanagan in 2020

Most Read