Description of Historic Place
Shannon is a large ten acre estate in South Vancouver, comprised of an important three-storey Beaux Arts mansion, elaborate Italianate gardens, a gate house and coach house, now all converted to residential suites. The perimeter of the property has been redeveloped with infill townhouses - Shannon Mews - and low rise apartment buildings.
The heritage value of Shannon lies in its associative, architectural, and contextual significance.
Shannon plays an important role in the history of Vancouver, as it was the estate of B.T. Rogers. The building was constructed by Dominion Construction, designed by the architects Somervell and Putnam in 1915-1925, and finished by Bernard Palmer in 1925, with the addition of infill housing designed by Arthur Erickson in 1974. The main house is an imposing Beaux Arts structure of red brick with stone trim. The architects are important for designing many landmarks in Vancouver including the Merchant's Bank, Seymour Building, Toronto Dominion Bank (now the Simon Fraser University Centre for Dialogue), Birks Building (now demolished), and Bank of Montreal (now the Simon Fraser University Centre of Business). The three-storey structure features a high degree of symmetry about its entrance garden facades. A Doric-columned porte cochere and loggia extend the house into the formal Italianate gardens. B.T. Rogers, an avid gardener, is known to have laid out the gardens.
B.T. Rogers, of Rogers Sugar, was one of the key business leaders of Vancouver. Rogers wished to create a large semirural estate and looked far south on Granville Street, almost to Marpole, to find the ten acre site for Shannon. Since 1967 Wall Financial Corporation has owned and managed the estate and commissioned Arthur Erickson to design the townhouses and apartments which surround the property.
Most of the main floor, with its suite of grand rooms and majestic stone staircase, is in largely original condition. Residential suites occupy the upper floors and former service wing.
A brick one-and-a-half-storey gate house marks the Granville Street entrance, and a large brick coach house lies along the north property edge, both of which have been converted to residential units. The ten acre site slopes from the northeast to the southwest, with the Mansion sited to take advantage of the slope by giving an unfolding view to the south. The garden terraces follow the natural fall of the land. In so doing each terrace elevation creates distinct garden rooms, each with a particular character. The townhouses follow the grades at the perimeter of the site and thereby have a consistent relationship to the walls that surround the gardens.
The garden, though altered over time as other structures have been added, respects the basic notions of the Italianate school of garden design and retains the symmetry and elegance of the original layout. As a result of Arthur Erickson's addition of townhouses, and the current maturity of the trees and shrubs, there is a very pleasing progression of spaces from the Mansion and its immediate garden to the townhouses and their patios and the walls beyond all bound together by the verdant growth. The newer 'Shannon Mews' development has its own West Coast landscape vernacular, influenced more by Japanese and California traditions. The mature trees and large-scale shrubs envelope the townhouses, resulting in a successful blending of the townhouses into the older landscape. The effect is a shared public space enjoyed by the residents of Shannon Mews.
The main qualities that make this landscape unique and valuable include the lawns, terraces and parterres, which are mature examples of the symmetrical Italianate style popular in the early 1900s, adapted to the vegetation and style of the West Coast. The mature trees and shrubs define a variety of outdoor spaces, some open and spacious and others enclosed by the large-scale growth. Some of these spaces feel sheltered and private, while others open to vistas beyond the garden. As well, there is an interplay of sunlight with the mature growth which creates unique light patterns that change through the days and the seasons.
Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program
Key elements that define the heritage character of Shannon include:
- its central location on the site, overlooking sloping property and gardens on three sides
- its three-storey massing with parapet cornice
- its symmetrical vertical window openings
- its projecting porte cochere, loggia and conservatory
- its red brick cladding with stone trim
- stone-lined vestibule
- panelled main hallway with arched ceiling
- stone-lined stair hall with Palladian window and bronze pendant light fixture
- Great Hall with fireplace surround and wall panelling
- Living/Music room with plastered walls, trim and arched ceiling and parquet floor
- Conservatory with stone and tile trim and coffered ceiling
- Dining Room with wood panelling, fireplace surround and plaster ceiling
- the Gate house with brick cladding, marble trim and slate roofing
- the Coach house with brick cladding and slate roofing
- the location around the perimeter of property and stepped to follow slope of site
- the low scale and lack of prominence amongst mature plantings
- the narrow forest of large mature coniferous and deciduous trees that shroud the townhouses well from the street
Key elements that define the grounds and siting of Shannon include:
- the relationship of gate house, coach house and mansion and formal gardens, with view of the Fraser River to the south
- the siting of townhouses along perimeter and to west and below mansion
- the formal gardens set within mature native planting and trees
- the axial layout of Italianate gardens
- the perimeter brick and stone walls along Granville, West 57th and Adera Streets, which defines the estate
- the stone and brick walls are tight to the property line and to the narrow sidewalks
- the mature groups of trees and shrubs ringing the perimeter
- a narrow palette of large broad leafed evergreens, including Portugal Laurel and varieties of Rhododendrons
- the large east rhododendron parterre dominated by enclosure of large conifers
- the small circular pond
- the ornate concrete lamp bases and balustrade
- the clay tiled terrace at end of axis from mansion porte cochere
- the curved concrete bench nestled into shrubs at west end of north path
- the prominent south lawn, terraces, and sunken Italianate garden
- the concrete terrace walls and ornamental concrete balustrades
- the ornate concrete urns flanking stairs
- the lily pond, rebuilt at this location in the 1970s
- the unique furnishings and ornamentation, including benches and large pots
- the grotto at base of upper terrace
West of the Mansion
- swimming pool terrace, surrounded by the typical balustrade before the grade drops away to the townhouses and their evergreen buffer planting
- the narrow conifer-shaded paths to townhouses
- the private townhouse patios enclosed by shrubs
- the small path-end retreats enclosed by shrubs and trees