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Plan sought for Branscombe House

Major restoration work on the Branscombe House is now complete. Now the city is trying to find a vision and future use for the historic structure.  - City of Richmond
Major restoration work on the Branscombe House is now complete. Now the city is trying to find a vision and future use for the historic structure.
— image credit: City of Richmond

Restoration work is now largely complete, but the city is still short of ideas when it comes to the future of the historic Branscombe House.

For years the house at 4900 Steveston Hwy. was boarded up and in disrepair. But following a major renovation, whose building permit value totalled $301,500, the house now sparkles at the southwest corner of Steveston Highway and Railway Avenue.

Last fall, the city touted the main floor of the house as possible rentable space for meetings, workshops and receptions for up to 30 people.

Upstairs would offer space for a living suite that could be used by a caretaker or artist-in-residence. And outside would offer a public washroom for users of the Railway Avenue Greenway.

On Friday the city issued a fresh call for expressions of interest on the future uses of the house. City spokesperson Ted Townsend said there’s a variety of possible community uses, but that needs to better defined.

Uses must preserve the character of the house, complement the area and be considerate of residential neighbours. Innovative ideas that will cost the city little or no money are favoured, according to the proposal document.

“The city intends to identify a vision and future use for the Branscombe House, which are appropriate for this unique heritage house and advance regular or ongoing usage and access to the public over the long term,” according to the document.

Residents are expected to have their first chance to see inside the house during Doors Open Richmond, set for June 7 and 8. Construction work on the second floor is scheduled to be complete by September.

The Branscombe House, built in 1905, was once owned by David and Sarah Branscombe. The family owned and operated a general store on Moncton Street.

Gone are the property’s barns, chicken coops and other outbuildings, but the two-storey house—one of the earliest homes built in Steveston—survived.

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