The Roedde House is one of the few remaining reminders of Vancouver’s Victorian past. Built in 1893 for the Roedde family, the house underwent an extensive restoration in the 1980s and ‘90s and is now the only museum of its kind in Vancouver.
Since the family lived in the house during the reign of Victoria, Edward VII, and George V, the house’s restoration does not attempt to capture a purely Victorian aesthetic. Instead, the juxtaposition of styles, such as the elaborate Victorian parlor with the more functional Arts and Crafts dining room, as well as the various technologies, highlight the changing world of the Roedde family and life in Vancouver.
The Roedde family arrived in Vancouver in 1888. Gustav Roedde quickly established himself as a successful businessman and one of the first bookbinders in the developing city which, only a few years earlier, had been razed by fire. Roedde hired the architect Francis Rattenbury to design his new home.
Shortly after designing the Roedde House in the Queen Anne Revival style, Rattenbury briefly became one of the most sought-after architects in British Columbia until the turn of the century, designing the building that now houses the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Empress Hotel in Victoria. Rattenbury later gained notoriety for his torrid personal life and murder at the hands of his wife’s lover, events which inspired the Terence Rattigan play Cause Célèbre.
The Roedde family lived in the home until 1925, when they moved to the more affluent neighborhood of Point Grey. After they left, the Roedde House changed hands several times, being sold to the city in the 1960s. During this time, the house fell into disrepair and, by the 1970s, the city planned to demolish the house and turn the block it and several other Victorian houses were on into a park.
After pressure from community groups, and with the help of both the remaining Roedde family and the printing company Gustav Roedde had started (which remains in business today), the home was restored as closely as possible to what it had looked like during the 30 years the family ived there. It’s now open as a museum that contains thousands of artifacts, including some owned by the Roeddes.