This building really is “old school!”
This little structure in the lane behind the home at 19th Avenue, and Laurel Street, is odd. It’s not a garage. It’s too big to be a playhouse, and it just doesn’t accessorize well with the house, what is it? Well, It’s a piece of Vancouver’s history — one of the area’s early woodframe structures, built way back in 1901, which briefly served as a schoolhouse. And why do these people have it in their yard… because they want to home-school their children? (drumroll). It’s sitting there for safe-keeping. The plaque designating it a heritage building tells the basic story.
“Built circa 1901 as a private house at the northeast corner of 19th and Ash, this tiny, side-gabled, woodframe structure is a good example of the pioneer Cottage style. In 1908, it opened, under the direction of Miss H. Messon, as the second school in what was the Municipality of Point Grey. After the opening of Shaughnessy (later Edith Cavell) School, it reverted to a private residence. Few people were aware of its history until the Fall of 1995, when it was threatened by demolition. The school was saved by the efforts of Douglas Park neighbourhood supporters, and by Allen and Bronna Fenichel, who offered to move the building to its present location on their property at 19th and Laurel.”
It may not have functioned as a school for very long — just a few months. As the plaque relates, it opened as a school in 1908, and reverted to a private residence with the opening Shaughnessy School – which, according to it’s own history, also opened in 1908.
Back in 1908, the school was in the municipality of Point Grey, which seems to have covered the entire area now divided into three Vancouver neighbourhoods (moving west to east): Point Grey, Kitsilano, and Fairview. The school was located in what is now the east side of Fairview. It was moved a whole three blocks from it’s old location to it’s new backyard.