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'Grand old lady' nears completion

The restoration of Branscombe House, as seen in July, was scheduled for completion this summer. It
The restoration of Branscombe House, as seen in July, was scheduled for completion this summer. It's still listed as 'nearing completion.'
— image credit: Matthew Hoekstra photo

Meetings, workshops and receptions for up to 30 people lie ahead for Richmond's historic Branscombe House, according to a new report.

On Tuesday, city council received an information report on possible future uses of the 1905 Railway Avenue house, as a full restoration of the exterior and first floor near completion.

The first floor will likely become a rentable space for the public, according to the report from Jane Fernyhough, director of arts, culture and heritage services. Plans for upstairs call for a living suite that could be used by a caretake or artist-in-residence. Two accessible washrooms have been added to the main floor, along with another public washroom that is accessible from the outside.

It's not clear when the space will become available to the public.

The house, at Steveston Highway, lies on the new Railway Greenway—a linear park with a paved path. Parks staff are now drafting a design for the area surrounding the house, the report says.

Funding for the restoration came in part from a 2012 agreement with "local business people." City council could be asked to ante up more cash in the 2014 capital budget to finish the upper floor and install a kitchen on the lower floor.

City councillors Tuesday said they like what they see. Coun. Linda McPhail called the house Richmond's "grand old lady" with an exciting future.

Added Coun. Derek Dang: "I think it's an investment that's most worthwhile and clearly will be a success."

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