Burrvilla

6001 River Road
Delta, BC

Built: 1905-1906
 

Burrvilla is an elaborate and sophisticated two storey plus basement wood-frame Queen Anne Revival style residence. It is part of the Deas Island Regional Park heritage grouping and is situated near the Delta Agricultural Hall and Inverholme School. Similar to its original location, the house is oriented with views towards the Fraser River amidst large expanses of grass and a mixed canopy of deciduous and coniferous trees.

Status: Still Standing

Burrvilla - 2004
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Heritage Value

Built in 1905-06 at the corner of 62B and River Road, Burrvilla reflects the turn of the nineteenth century economic expansion of Delta's farming industry, and symbolizes the wealth and status attained by the prominent Burr family. It was of great historic importance within the Crescent Island community - once an isolated island but now connected to the mainland - and is a valuable legacy of Delta's pioneering origins. The house and its farm were an important centre for community social gatherings for Crescent Islanders and others from Ladner. Also, the Burr property was the location of a steamer landing and briefly housed Crescent Island's only post office. The house was the most prominent in the area and a well-known community landmark. The man for whom the house was built, Henry Benjamin Burr (known as 'Harry'), was the son of W.H. Burr, who was an early pioneer involved in the municipal incorporation of Delta. Harry Burr began farming on Crescent Island in the 1890s and married Edith Blanche Mitchell, daughter of pioneer Nathaniel Mitchell, in 1899. The house remained in Burr family ownership until 1974.

The heritage value of Burrvilla is also associated with its architecture as an excellent example of the popular Queen Anne Revival Style. The house features the trademark elements of the style such as varied wall textures, decorated porches, a complex picturesque roofline and a highly elaborated decorative scheme with superior carpenter ornamentation. The house is notable as an unusually late example of this style, and represents a transition point between the elaborate Victorian residential styles and the more simplified expressions of the Edwardian era. It was constructed by carpenter Fred Land and designer/builder David Price, who was Harry Burr's brother-in-law. It is unknown whether Price used a pattern book design, or adapted a similar plan for this house. The exterior millwork is exceptional, demonstrating pride in the building and typifying the architectural elaboration still considered fashionable at the time. The use of intricate ornamentation had been facilitated by the introduction of steam-driven band saws, illustrating the rise of industrial production and its application within the context of growth and development.

Furthermore, Burrvilla is significant for its heritage designation in 1981 - the first in Delta - and its relocation to Deas Island Regional Park in 1982, as part of a heritage grouping with Inverholme School and the Delta Agricultural Hall; a reflection of the community's commitment to the preservation of its local heritage. It is also indicative of heritage practices of the 1980s, in which relocation to heritage groupings of this type was often seen as the only solution for dealing with threatened heritage buildings.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of Burrvilla include its:

  • current setting within Deas Island Regional Park near the Delta Agricultural Hall and Inverholme School
  • orientation, facing towards the Fraser River
  • residential form, scale and massing, as expressed by its two storey plus basement height and tall attic, asymmetrical plan with numerous projections and open rear verandah
  • central pyramidal roof with gabled projections
  • wood-frame construction, as expressed by its vertical tongue-and-groove siding over the foundation and bevelled horizontal drop wooden siding on first and second storeys, with cornerboards
  • Queen Anne Revival details such as: the open, elaborate front-gabled porch with numerous decorative details, including a carved sunburst inset within the entry pediment; dentil detailed bargeboards and friezes; elliptical scroll-cut balusters, rounded arched openings with drop finials and tripled square columns with incised fluting; enclosed eaves with row of scroll-cut eave brackets; double-height cutaway bay window at front with decorative incised triangular brackets; square side projecting bay with decorative incised triangular brackets; and two tall corbelled interior brick chimneys
  • additional exterior details such as its original glazing and panelled front doors
  • fenestration, including: the consistent use of double-hung 1-over-1 wooden-sash windows in single, double and triple-assembly; lunette attic windows with keystone design in the front and side gable ends; and a multi-paned feature window in the front entry hall