John and Mary Williamson Residence

4820 48th Avenue
Delta, BC

Built: 1892

The Williamson Residence is a two-storey Foursquare residence, with a small Victorian cottage attached at the rear. It is part of a small grouping of Edwardian-era residences on the outskirts of Ladner village.

Status: Still Standing

The Williamson Residence - 2006
click photos to enlarge

Heritage Value

The house is generally referred to as the Williamson house. That fits our general pattern of naming, since the largest and most prominent part of the house was indeed built for the Williamson family.

John A. Williamson was, for most of the years he resided in Delta, manager of an oilery on Williamson Island, an operation that rendered the byproducts of the fish canning process into other useful products such as fertilizer. He purchased the property. on which there was a tiny house, from Thomas R. Patterson in 1907 but there had been earlier owners.

Alfred DeRupe Taylor, the local veterinarian, purchased the land in 1892 and it appears the original house was built for him in the same year.

Thomas R. Patterson, a carpenter, had been one of the enumerators for the 1901 Census. He married Anna Belle Beadleston in December 1903 and no doubt purchased this house in which to make a home with his bride. The Pattersons lived here until 1907.

The incredibly tiny house into which the Williamsons moved in 1907 can still be seen at the back of the present building. Unlike most homeowners, Alfred deRupe Taylor had the original house built only a few steps from the property line. In 1909 the local newspaper reported that John Williamson was "building a nice large addition to his house" and the house, with some modifications, is the one we see here today. A description of the interior, as remembered by Winona Maxwell, confirms that the two parts of the house were built at different periods.

J. A. Williamson served as Reeve (Mayor) from 1920 to 1922, and died in 1929, two years after he retired from the oilery. His widow, Mary, remained in the house for a couple of years and then moved to the Williamson farm on River Road, formerly owned by H. D. Benson. Tenants named Hemphill lived in the home for several years before George and Winona Maxwell purchased it in 1943.

Over time, some things were changed. The Maxwells removed the wide verandah seen in the circa 1910 photo, not for aesthetic reasons, but because the stairs were in need of replacement. A new concrete foundation replaced the decaying wooden blocks on which the house rested. Some windows were modernized and the tongue-and-groove siding was covered over.

After her husband's death in 1964, Mrs. Maxwel remained im the house until 1985. Subsequent owners, the Pawluks, added the deck at the back and side. No one has yet returned the house to its original condition or colours, yellow with brown trim.

Character-Defining Elements

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

  • compatible urban setting, in contiguous setback with other contemporaneous residences
  • residential form, scale and massing, as expressed by its typical Foursquare cubic form, two-storey height, compound plan and hipped roof on the front section, with a gable-roofed cottage attached at the rear
  • wood-frame construction with the original drop wooden siding and cornerboards
  • exterior details, such as the open verandah, with chamfered square columns and scroll-cut brackets on the rear cottage
  • original double-hung one-over-one wooden-sash windows