Room-by-Room Tour Notes


1. Entrance Hall & Introduction to Roedde House

  • Roedde House was built in 1893. It is a heritage home restored to its turn-of-the-century charm.
  • The design of the home is attributed to Francis Rattenbury (a prominent BC architect whos list of works includes the former Vancouver law courts (Now the Vancouver Art Gallery), Victoria's legislative buildings, the Empress Hotel and other major commisions).
  • The Home is built in Queen Anne revival style. Design features include asymmetrical plans, verandas and porches, bay windows, and a turret.
  • The home was sold in 1924, and in 1930’s became a boarding house for male tenants run by a housekeeper who also supplied a daily meal. The home later became a rooming house (use contributed to its deterioration).
  • By the mid 1970s, the home was marked for demolition (along with other homes in the area) for the creation of a park on this block. Citizens stepped in and pushed instead to save the buildings with heritage value. The result is Barclay Heritage Square, which includes Roedde House and eight other heritage buildings. The city gave the house a heritage designation and undertook restoration to the exterior.
  • The Roedde House Preservation Society formed and began interior restoration and furnishings (1984). The fir and cedar paneling and moulding had been covered with paint and various varnishes, which were then stripped away to reveal original wood. Walls were
    stripped of layers of wallpaper to show the original turquoise coloured walls, which was later found out to be a base for wallpaper.
  • See family portrait, original stained glass window, original Newel lamp post 'Aurora, Goddess of the Dawn' - spelter (copper/ zinc alloy) figure after the bronze by Moreau.
  • Hanging rose glass fixture from the home of Major Mathews, Vancouver's first city archivist.
  • See our heritage tall case clock built in 1775.

2. Front Parlour:

  • The 'best' room in the house - used primarily for entertaining guests (viewing scrapbooks/piano/ acting games/ poetry).
  • Matches front entrance hall's cedar panelling and moulding, and carries the same green coloured walls. The hardwood flooring is made of fir.
  • Octagonal shape- good for acoustics. 
  • Furnished with items from 1893-1925 (purchased/ donated/ on loan).
  • Mahogany sheet music cabinet and spelter lamp (on piano) belonged to the Roeddes.
  • Enjoy our 1892 upright grand Steinway concert piano which has restored in 2017.

3. Dining room:

  • Versatile space- for meals and also a family room. Children did their homework at the table, could play games here.
  • Originally received the heat from the stove from the adjacent kitchen. With the advent of running water, a radiator hot water system was installed connected to a coal furnace and provided heat to the whole house.
  • Bay window space used to display a Christmas tree (German style decor, live candles). Caught fire in January 1913 due to candles. The newly built and nearby Fire Hall #6 helped contain the fire to the ceiling and wood mouldings. Charred wood on door frame, left from the fire.
  • Later restoration was done in Edwardian Arts and Crafts style (more simplistic and functional).
  • Maroon buckram fills in the spaces between recessed panels on the walls (During restoration it was obtained from Roedde Printer’s book binding supply).
  • Common pencil drawing of Queen Victoria, believed to be done by a Vancouver school child.
  • Matilda and Gustav at the end of every day, would sit down at the table and share a bottle of beer while they discussed the days activities.

4. Master bedroom:

  • Master bedroom often on lower floor. (closer to heat source in the kitchen)
  • Unusual at this time to have closets (mostly wardrobes were used), which shows Rattenbury's forsight.
  • Gentlemen- placed shaving accessories on the highboy dresser (leather strap to keep it sharp).
  • Lady- on a low mirrored dresser was hair curling tongs/ brushes/ pins/ buttons/ toiletries.
  • Ladies fine evening wear
  • Men's shirt with removable collar (would change only the collar daily), the shirt could be worn more than once.
  • Chamber pot and washbasin (one bathroom for eight people).
  • Notice studio portrait (Gustav's fashionable mustache)

5. Girl's bedroom:

  • An interpetation of a girl's room from the era. Not uncommon for children to share beds  when the house was small (also good during the winter). Toddler may have shared as well.
  • Both daughters named Anna died young. Anna Henrietta at the age of five from eating poisoned berries and Anna Catherine at age of 28 from an incident with a patient while on duty as a nurse at Vancouver General Hospital.
  • Daughter Emma moved back into the home with her children during WWI when her husband was serving overseas. (1914 - 1919)
  • See circa 1917 photo above bed of granddaughters Gwen and Kay at the summer house at Horseshoe Bay in bathing suits of the time.

6. Matilda's Sewing Room:

  • Her favourite room- with an excellent view to the sunsets over English Bay. Also see maple trees that had been planted along the boulevards as a result of the laying out of street grids and tree planting.
  • Her favourite armchair, purchased in the 1930's after the family had moved to Drummond Drive.
  • Salish cedar bark woven basket - First Nations women made trips to homes to trade baskets for clothing/ soaps/ other goods.
  • Notice view out of window of park and other heritage homes.

7. Boy's bedroom:

  • Items showing pastimes enjoyed by boys - stamp collecting/ scouting/ checkers/ collecting/military memorabilia.
  • Roedde sons were avid sailors, thus the nautical theme.
  • Antique sheet and bedding.
  • Canadian flag, still was the Red Ensign (maple leaf only adopted in 1965).
  • Wool swimsuits, a hot water bottle, tin lunch pail.

8. Bathroom:

  • In 1893  the house was  outfitted with a bathroom in anticipation of a future connection to the water line. This happened in 1901 when the city extended its water line to include the 1400 block of Barclay Street.  The tub is an 1923 original clawfoot tub that would have been installed as part of a bathroom renovation in the 1920's.
  • There was a well in the backyard. Sheds would be set up outside for laundry and to protect drying.

9. Collections room:

  • This room originally had a small room adjoining the back stairs which served as servant’s quarters. The family had a several maids who lived here for a time. They also hired a Chinese cook by the name of Hung.The balance of the room was a drying room and playroom.
  • Visible display cabinets may be showing children's toys/ephemera, vintage fashions. Roedde family heirlooms, early maps of Vancouver.
  • The displays are changed several times a year.  Displays will highlight items in our collection as well as items brought in by visiting curators.

10. Back stairs to kitchen/ pantry

  • Pictures and maps of early Vancouver.

11. Pantry and Kitchen:

  • Restoration close to the original scheme - wallpaper was silk-screened by the experts who recreated the wallpapers in the children's bedrooms.
  • Kitchen was the most comfortable room, warm and pleasant with baking. Coal and wood burning stove was the heating system for the whole house. Old newspapers were packed into wall cavities for insulation (restoration uncovered these).
  • Stores carried few prepared foods - hence the lack of extensive cupboard/shelf space that we are now used to. Panty stored home canned and bottled foods, china and glassware. Ice chest in pantry held perishables.
  • A garden and fruit trees surrounding the house supplied much of the fresh produce. The Roeddes often traded plums for produce at the local grocer.
  • Very low kitchen sink (Matilda's height) installed when indoor plumbing was added to the house in the early 1900s. Soap raddler hangs to sink. More household items under the sink, including various labour-saving devices.
  • Clothing was boiled with blueing in a copper boiler on the stove to keep the whiteness. The wooden drying rack on a pulley system (for bad weather) raised the washing above the warm stove.
  • Shotgun above back door- Vancouver city archives have story about son Bill Roedde at age 9 shooting ducks around Stanley Park.
  • Bread machine, butter churner, coffee grinder, dough box, weighted floor polisher and hand pump suction vacuum.
  • Gas lighting fixture and coal oil lamps on shelf.

12. Den:

  • A later addition - a closed-in sleeping porch (added during renovations after the 1913 fire).
  • Gustav Roedde's private space (played the Victrola, smoked, and bathed the dogs in this room).
  • Now an archival and exhibit space, also displays binders documenting restoration processes.
  • In 1966 the Vancouver Parks Board purchased Roedde House as a part of a land assembly so that they could create more parks in the west end when population growth so warranted. In the mid 1970’s the Parks Board let it be known that they were planning to demolish all of the buildings on the block to create such a park. A sufficient number of citizens were able to convince the city council of the day that Roedde House warranted protection and the building was declared a class A heritage site which meant that it could not be moved or altered in any significant way. The result is Barclay Heritage Square which includes Roedde House Museum, Barclay House and seven other heritage buildings.



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