If we brought you a story about someone planning to strip the paint off Monet’s Water Lilies because he wanted to use the canvas for Dogs Playing Poker, you might think it’s a rejected plot line for a Bond villain.
Instead, we bring you the story about an important home – Ron Thom’s 1962 Forrest-Baker Residence on Eyremount Drive, which could be demolished as soon as Jan. 16 to make room for a mansion.
The house won the 1964 Massey Medal for architecture and it is considered one of the shining examples of West Coast Modernism.
In total contrast to what gets built today, the style emphasized closeness to nature. West Coast Modern is one of our greatest contributions to culture on the world stage.
It remains to be seen if the current owner is willing to listen to pleas to save the subtle yet dazzling structure. The municipality has frustratingly few tools to protect it. Our notion of private property rights far exceeds our commitment to heritage preservation. And where real estate is concerned, nothing is sacred.
We’ve already lost far too many of our heritage homes to those who saw them as a hinderance to maximum property value.
The province needs to give municipalities more power to protect our heritage than what currently amounts to hand wringing and begging. Owning a piece of history should come with a responsibility to preserve it.
Architecture is no less important than oil on canvas. It makes a statement about us and the time and place we live in.
If we allow this home and others like it to be destroyed and replaced with stucco boxes, it will say a lot about us indeed.