Description of Historic Place
The Robert & Flossy Menten Residence is a one-and-one-half storey, front-gabled house, displaying the influence of the Period Revival styles popular during the 1930s. Located on a corner lot on the north side of Queens Avenue at Third Street in the historic Queen’s Park neighbourhood in New Westminster, it features a curved projecting bay on the west side, that compliments a curved roof over the corner front porch.
Built in 1937, the Robert & Flossy Menten Residence is significant for its connection with the later development of the historic Queen’s Park neighbourhood, the most affluent and desirable residential area of New Westminster. The historic character of Queen’s Park is based on its consistent streetscapes of fine restored homes, augmented by mature landscaping.
The house is additionally valued as a residential design by the prolific architectural firm, McCarter & Nairne, a partnership formed in 1921 by John Young McCarter (1886-1981) and George Colvill Nairne (1884-1953). McCarter & Nairne was one of the key architectural firms practicing in the province; some of their landmark buildings include the Marine Building in Vancouver (1928-30) and the McLennan, McFeely & Prior Building in New Westminster (1939). The period between the two World Wars was a time of entrenched traditionalism in residential architecture in North America. Houses were expected to display historical motifs as a reflection of the owners’ good taste, harkening back to a romantic representation of traditional domestic values and an idyllic suburban lifestyle.
Unlike McCarter & Nairne’s commercial projects, this house displays only a cautious embrace of modernism, and includes Period Revival elements, such as steeply-pitched gables, severely-clipped eaves, and leaded casement sash, that demonstrate a vestigial influence of the British Arts and Crafts style. The late persistence of historical architectural styles in Queen’s Park reflects an underlying conservatism in this tightly-knit neighbourhood. An efficient and rational floor plan, with rooms tightly arranged around a central hallway, reflected the reality that most families, during this period of austerity, could no longer afford domestic help.
The house is further valued for its association with its original owners, Robert Clarence Menten (1881-1944), a river pilot, and his wife, Flossy Pearl Menten (née Street, 1879-1946). Robert worked as a senior pilot for New Westminster Pilotage Authority, initially established in 1873 to help guide ships into New Westminster docks. Prior to this, he was shipmaster of the first of the Samson snag boats, five successive steam-powered sternwheelers that ran between 1884 and 1990. The Samsons were used to keep the Fraser River clear of deadheads, fishing nets and logs. Robert Menten was also an active and prominent member of the Masonic Order in BC.
Source: City of New Westminster Planning Department
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Robert & Flossy Menten Residence include its:
- prominent corner location on the north side of Queen’s Avenue at Third Street
- residential form, scale and massing, as expressed by its one-and-one-half storey plus full basement height, rectangular plan, front-gabled roof with front-gabled one-storey projection, corner entry porch, and two gabled dormers at the west side
- wood-frame construction, with stucco siding, wide lapped wooden siding at gable peaks, cedar shingle roof, and internal and external red-brick chimneys
- Period Revival detailing such as steeply-pitched gabled rooflines with severely-clipped eaves, wooden siding in the gable peaks, decorative scalloped millwork at window heads, and curvilinear features of the house, such as the curved bay on the west side, a curved flat roof over the entry porch and a circular window at the front gable peak
- windows, such as multi-paned wooden casements with straight-leaded panels, in single and triple-assembly
- original panelled wooden front door and hardware