After fire leveled the very young City of Vancouver in 1886, reconstruction began within days. Strathcona was its first residential neighbourhood, and many of its original homes remain and are being restored today. Built in 1892, the Duclos House is a tall and thin Queen Anne home on a narrow 25 foot lot. Adolphus Duclos was a carpenter and saw filer at the Hastings Mill, the main employer of the time located mere blocks away and one of few structures to survive the fire. The home was later occupied by Sam Preston, foreman of the Hastings Mill and an early city builder.
The house was badly neglected but never extensively renovated, and so it retained many of its original wood elements. With a design from Architrix Design Studio, Maestro first carefully removed and set aside the ornate wood mouldings from the interior, then gutted the home to its studs and rebuilt the rear wall to accommodate a small increase in floor space on the top floor (within the original footprint of the home). Reclaimed beams from the 2012 demolition of the nearby Drake Hotel were used on the main floor to structurally support the new open floor plan. Maestro carefully stripped and restored the wood mouldings and doors, window sashes and jambs, fir flooring, cast-iron tub and sink, and simple brick chimney. A high-efficiency boiler feeds radiant heat in the new basement slab and hot water baseboard heaters upstairs, while an HRV supplies ventilation and sprinklers safeguard all that wood. A completely modern garden-level loft suite was finished with soaring 11′ ceilings, due to the lot’s unusual position well below street level and behind a retaining wall.
On the exterior, Maestro carefully scaffolded the house, removed the asphalt shingles that had been wrapped over the siding a half century earlier, and restored the decorative wooden shingles on the front facade and lapped wooden siding throughout. The facade’s ornamental brackets and craftsman details had been peeled off prior to cladding with asphalt, so they were replicated based on historic photos and hints in the old paint outlines. The front entry was rebuilt to blend into the streetscape, while at the back an asymmetric roof and deck provide an interesting counterpoint to the rest of the home.