Description of Historic Place
Lord Kitchener Elementary School occupies a 1.7-hectare site in the west-side neighbourhood of Dunbar-Southlands. Two school buildings comprise its ‘campus’. The three-storey, brick-clad ‘Main Building’, opened in 1924, faces east. A playing field and changes in grade separate it from Blenheim Street. It subsequently acquired classroom wings to the north (1929) and south (1962). A detached two-storey ‘Frame Building’ (1914) at the rear faces north.
The site is well landscaped, particularly in front of the Main Building. Numerous trees grow on the school site, with more trees around the perimeter. Much of the play space behind the school is taken up by a large adventure playground, known as Lord Kitchener Elementary School Community Park.
Lord Kitchener Elementary School has heritage value for its history and its architecture. The oldest part of the complex, the wood-frame building constructed in 1914, is particularly significant for its design and for its association with the tremendous expansion of Vancouver before World War I. Increased school enrolment in the following decades resulted in the addition of a completely new brick-clad school in several stages (Main Building and gymnasium/auditorium, 1925-29; change rooms, 1954; and classroom annex/north wing, 1962). The evolution over time has value for being representative of many Vancouver School Board schools.
The two-storey Frame Building, designed by architect H. Whitaker, is one of the best wood schools in the city. Its architectural values include its classical features, large windows, and a central cupola.
The central part of the Main Building, opened in 1924, was one of several schools designed by architects Twizell and Twizell for the Point Grey School District. Heritage value lies in the association with this noted architectural firm, and also for the simplified classicism characteristic of 1920s architecture, seen here and in the white-painted gymnasium/auditorium, designed by Gardiner and Mercer, which includes an outdoor playspace beneath it; a very early example – perhaps a prototype – of the ubiquitous covered play areas added to most Vancouver schools.
The school is valued as a neighbourhood landmark. The differences between these buildings and the Vancouver School District’s schools of the time remind us that Point Grey remained a separate municipality until 1929.
Lord Kitchener Elementary School also has heritage value for the collective memory of its past and present staff and pupils. Plaques and an outdoor signboard beside the park commemorate its construction and interpret its history, indicating an enduring interest in the school’s history. An outdoor bench and indoor memorial dedicated to the memory of a short-lived student, Joanie Brennen (1992-2003), signals the important links between the historic place and the lives of individuals.
Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program
The character-defining elements of Lord Kitchener Elementary School include:
- tradition of use as a school
- location in an established residential area, set among single-family houses from the early and middle 20th century
- form, scale and massing, seen in the free-standing nature of the buildings
- relationship to the street
- H-shaped plan, with parallel wings linked by a connecting wing
- horizontal, narrow wood siding
- pilaster-like vertical panels at corners, with shingles between vertical boards and ‘capitals’ at the tops
- steep, cross-gabled roof
- two-and-one-half storey projecting bays, with gabled roofs, interrupted cornice, and diamond patterns in the gable
- wood-sash windows with small panes – 9-over-9 and other pane configurations – and classical surrounds
- deep setback from Blenheim Street
- three-storey elevation, with stucco facing on the elevated basement and red bricks on the upper two floors
- variations in coursing in the brick, including soldier courses over the windows and diamond-in-square pattern in the gable parapets
- projecting moulding above the top-floor windows.
- buff contrasting bricks on the south elevation
- parapet with gable-like profile over entry and end projections
- ‘Barbell’ plan
- large double-hung, wood-sash windows, with 6-over-6 glazing in groups of five and 4-over-4 glazing in pairs
- stucco exterior walls of the gymnasium/auditorium, with arched windows along the sides
- covered play area beneath the auditorium
North wing (1962) of Main Building
- low, arched windows on the ground floor
- metal windows on the upper two floors, grouped in threes
- brick walls
- flat roof
Grounds and context
- siting on a knoll
- large adventure playground at south-west corner
- landscaping in front of Main Building, including trees, picnic tables, and hard surfaces