Photo Credit: Ann-Marie Spicer
6120 MacDonald St, Vancouver BC
This Georgian Revival-style residence sits on a large, prominent lot at the corner of MacDonald Street and West 45th Avenue. The front entrance is framed by two circular pillars and the exterior is clad in stucco and topped with a hipped roof. The home was designed by William Tuff Whiteway for George L. Smellie and built by N.C. Griffith.
Smellie lived here until 1934. He was retired at the time but previously worked as a manager at the Canada Permanent Mortgage Company. In the mid-1930s, this became home for the Crawford family for the next ten years. John Crawford worked in the grocery industry as a buyer.
In 1997, the original lot was rezoned to allow a strata complex with infill townhomes that mimic the character of the original house.
William Tuff Whiteway was known for several notable projects in Vancouver, including the Ferguson Block and the Pennsylvania Hotel in Gastown, numerous brick warehouses and several West End residences. 6120 MacDonald St. is one of the few, if not the only, houses located outside of the downtown core that Whiteway designed. He also practiced in Port Townsend in Washington, St. John’s in Newfoundland, and in Halifax.
Whiteway was familiar with controversy and reportedly did not pay his fees to the Architectural Institute of British Columbia and was credited for designing the World Building (otherwise known as the Sun Tower) while another architect, George L.T. Sharp claimed the initial sketch was his. Whiteway was also criticized for working with architect W.H. Chow, who at the time was barred from being a licensed architect due to discriminatory restrictions imposed on Chinese-Canadians.
6120 MacDonald St. is located right in the heart of Kerrisdale. Historical maps from 1912 show adjacent farming or acreage properties that spanned blocks. While some larger properties still exist, most have since been subdivided into 33 or 50-foot lots.
Kerrisdale has seen shifting patterns of settlement and immigration. The area is the traditional territory of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations who have inhabited the Fraser River estuary and adjacent lands for thousands of years. The Irish McCleery family were the first European settlers arriving in 1867. Their homestead and farm are now the site of McCleery Golf Course. Kerrisdale was a major hub for railway and streetcar routes which prompted more development and establishment of the Kerrisdale Village shopping area. The last 30 years have seen the arrival of immigrants from Hong Kong and China and the 2016 Statistics Canada Census indicated that over 35 per cent of Kerrisdale residents speak Mandarin or Cantonese as their first language.
Heritage Vancouver Building Permits Database, VPL British Columbia City Directories 1860-1955, City of Vancouver, VanMap, Atkin, John (2007). "William Tuff Whiteway". In Donald Luxton (ed.). Building the West: The Early Architects of British Columbia