John and Anna Scopinich Residence

4170 River Road West
Delta, BC

Built: 1914

The Scopinich Residence is a two-storey Foursquare house, with distinctive scrollwork detailing on the front porch. It is located on a corner lot at the intersection of River Road West and 41B Street, with views across the street to the Fraser River.

Status: Still Standing

Scopinich Residence - 2006
click to enlarge

Heritage Value

The Scopinich Residence illustrates early residential development along the Fraser River waterfront that was driven by the cannery and fishing industries and is a valuable legacy of Delta's resource-based origins. This house was part of the Port Guichon settlement, which developed as a distinct neighbourhood to the west of Ladner Village. Port Guichon provided workers' housing for the industries located here, near the terminus of a railway and a busy shipping wharf. Over time, the small fishing and farming village was transformed into a busy industrial hub. This house was built just after the Wellington Farm property was subdivided in 1906 to accommodate the growing population in the area.

Furthermore, this house reflects the diverse ethnicity of the early settlement of Delta, by immigrants who were drawn to the area by the rich natural resources and booming industries. During the mid-1800s, many Eastern Europeans left their homeland due to political and economic unrest; some were traders and sailors who found their way along the Pacific Coast to the mouth of the Fraser River. A number settled in the Canoe Pass area, near the busy canneries once located here. As their homeland had been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, this area became known locally as 'Austrian Town.' This home was owned for many years by John (Giovanni) Scopinich (1877-1928), a fisherman from Austria who arrived in Canada in 1893, and his Austrian wife Anna Scopinich (nee Bussanich, 1882-1967), who bought the property in 1908. The house remained in the Scopinich family until 1955.

Built in 1914, the Scopinich Residence is additionally valued as a good example of the Foursquare style, which was popular during the Edwardian era, and exhibits characteristic elements, such as simple cubic massing and a broad, low-pitched hipped roof. The Foursquare style provided a rational way to build that suited the needs of farmers, especially those with large families. It maximized the volume achieved within the building envelope through a logical floor plan with central access. The hipped roof covered the rectangular plan with a minimum of framing. Although utilitarian, this basic form could then be decorated with stylistic elements, such as the ornate scrollwork balustrade, that provided greater architectural pretension.

Character-Defining Elements

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

  • semi-rural setting on a corner lot at the intersection of River Road West and 41B Street, with views of Fraser River
  • two-storey plus basement height, cubic massing and Foursquare plan, with pyramidal low-pitched hipped roof
  • wood-frame construction, with the original wooden siding underneath later aluminum siding
  • other features, such as one internal red-brick chimney and the original wooden front door
  • original double-hung one-over-one wooden-sash windows
  • early carpenter ornamentation on the open front verandah, including an elaborate scrollwork balustrade and scroll-cut brackets
  • landscape features, such as mature trees