John and Margaret McKee Residence aka "Rosetta"

4705 Arthur Drive
Delta, BC

Built: 1895
 

The McKee Residence, located on the south edge of Ladner village, is a two-storey wood-frame late Victorian era residence, recognizable for its stacked front verandahs and scroll-cut ornamentation. It stands on a spacious corner lot at the intersection of Arthur Drive and 47th Avenue, and is part of an established residential street of homes dating to the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Status: Still Standing

McKee Residence aka Rosetta - 2004
click photo for more pictures

Heritage Value

The McKee house, the large white house with the colourful shutters, has been owned by the city of Delta since 1975 and has served as an activity centre for seniors and is currently the home of the Delta Community Music School.

Built in 1895, the house exhibits some features of late Victorian Italianane architecture such as low-slope hipped roof, the decorative cornice, and the tall narrow windows.

What is probably more interesting than any stylistic label is the belief that its first location was somewhat north of its current spot, perhaps on the north side side of Ladner Trunk Road. This would not be unreasonable, since it was apparently built for Thomas Kerr. He was one of the partners of Grant & Kerr Sawmill and that enterprise of the 1890s stood on the western bank of the Chilukthan Slough approximately at the location of where Double R Rentals is today. When the mill had to be moved to Port Guichon because of the construction of the dyking system, the Kerrs built a new home on River Road to be close to the business snd sold this house to John McKee, Senior.

In any event, the original was only part of the building that we see here today. John McKee, Junior, had it remodelled and enlarge in 1912. The house and property had been acquired by his parents, John McKee, Senior, and Margaret when they retired to the village from their East Delta farm about 1898. John, Senior, died in 1900 and it appears that John, Junior, subsequently made his home here also. And when John married Margaret Lilla McNeill of Toronto in 1903, this was the house, named "Rosetta" at some date, to which he brought his bride.

The McKees remained here through the years of World War I and into the 1920s. After John's death in 1931, Lilla continued to live here although she increasingly spent the winters in Vancouver. Many Ladnerites remember the fact that the McKees had an uniformed chauffeur, in particular Cecil Oddy, but he was only one of a numger who drove the big Packard limousine. The Packard was then the vehicle of status that Rolls Royce is today.

Reports suggest that this house was the scene of much voluneer activity, for Mrs. McKee was deeply involved in community work. She was a charter member of the Delta Chapter of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire (IODE) and was active in volunteer organizations during both world wars.

The McKees had no children and upon Lilla McKee's death in 1959 in her 100th year, the house was inherited by her nephew, Judge J. D. McNeill. He and his family took up residence and were the owners in 1975 when Delta bought the property and had the house officially designated a heritage building .

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the John McKee Residence include its:

  • spacious corner lot at the corner of Arthur Drive and 47th Avenue, on an important early transportation corridor in Delta
  • landmark status within a grouping of similar early houses
  • location across Arthur Drive from Chilukthan Slough, an early transportation route for local residents
  • residential form, scale and massing as expressed by its two-storey, asymmetrical, L-shaped plan with rear, two-storey, rectangular wing
  • low-pitched hipped roof with flat top, clad with cedar shingles, with hipped roof over projecting front two-storey bay
  • closed roof eaves with scroll cut brackets and frieze of vertical wooden siding
  • wood-frame construction as expressed by: wooden drop siding and cornerboards; simple wooden window and door trim capped with crown mouldings, and the use of wooden structural and decorative elements
  • exterior elements such as: the stacked open front verandahs with closed, shingle-clad balustrades; central front entry with transom; enclosed rear verandah with shed roof; and one internal and one external brick chimney
  • regular fenestration, including: double-hung 1-over-1 wooden-sash windows with horns, a number in double-assembly; two 6-paned casement windows flanking the external chimney; fixed 9-paned windows; and single-paned French doors
  • surviving interior elements such as the wooden staircase with intact balustrades and newel posts
  • adjacent stand of significant trees on the property
     
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