Thomas Kerr Residence

4604 River Road West
Delta, BC

Built: circa 1899

The Thomas Kerr Residence is a one and one-half storey, turn of the twentieth century wood-frame vernacular dwelling, with distinctive ornate verandah millwork. It is located on River Road West, across from the industrial waterfront and the dyke system that lines the Fraser River.

Status: Still Standing

Thomas Kerr Residence - 2005
click photo to enlarge

Heritage Value

Built circa 1899, the Thomas Kerr Residence is one of the oldest surviving houses in Delta. It was associated with Thomas Weir Kerr (1854-1931), a partner in the Grant & Kerr Sawmill. Ontario-born Kerr was very active in the local Methodist church, and also provided the designs for the public school that stood on Stanley Street. His family home is an excellent example of the Late Victorian vernacular style, being of simple design but embellished with elaborate millwork on the verandah, providing a showcase for his mill's manufactured products. The scroll-cut detailing also demonstrates the introduction of new technology at the mill, at a time when steam-driven band saws had become readily available.

The Thomas Kerr Residence is additionally significant for its associations with the lumber industry in Delta, and reflects the optimistic growth and development in the Ladner and Port Guichon areas. While agriculture remained an important industry in Delta, other resource-based industries began to thrive, particularly the lumber and salmon canning industries. After the installation of flood boxes in the main drainage canals in 1895, logs could no longer be transferred up the waterway to their mill, and Grant & Kerr moved their sawmill operation to Port Guichon. Kerr built this home to be near the sawmill operations.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Thomas Kerr Residence include its:

  • setback from the property line, on River Road West, consistent with neighbouring residences
  • residential form, scale and massing as expressed by its one and one-half storey height and L-shaped plan
  • compound gabled roof with closed v-joint soffits, with cedar shingle cladding
  • wood-frame construction: horizontal wooden v-joint drop siding; dimensional trim boards including cornerboards; elaborate window surrounds with crowns; angled watertable boards; and vertical foundation siding
  • Late Victorian vernacular style including: elaborate carpenter ornamentation on the verandah; rectangular panels of rounded mouldings on the bargeboards; and glazed, Eastlake style front door with original hardware
  • additional exterior details such as an internal red brick chimney
  • fenestration, including double-hung 1-over-1 wooden sash windows with upper-sash horns, and a frosted glass transom above the front door
  • original interior features such as a central wooden staircase with large, lathe-turned newel posts and balusters, and door and window casings with bulls-eye cornerblocks
  • associated landscape features such as mature trees at the front property line