Description of Historic Place
Overlynn is a two and one-half storey British Arts and Crafts mansion, with an exterior composed of a massive native granite rubble-stone base surmounted by distinctive half-timbering, a hipped roof, a rare surviving intact interior, and elaborate landscape features, including stone walls and planted terraces. It is situated in the residential neighbourhood of Vancouver Heights, on a high point of land overlooking Burrard Inlet to the west and the mouth of Lynn Creek to the east. This prominent residence is now part of a large senior citizens development known as Seton Villa.
Overlynn is valued as a superb example of the work of the noted architectural firm of Maclure and Fox. The architecture of Samuel Maclure (1860-1929) was synonymous with high quality residential design for prominent citizens in both Vancouver and Victoria. Maclure was known for his British Arts and Crafts style with meticulous attention paid to functional and beautiful interiors that utilized native wood combined with luxurious imported fittings. He was a leading exponent of the Art and Crafts design movement in B.C., and established a sophisticated local variation of residential architecture. Maclure's Vancouver office, in association with his partner Cecil Croker Fox (1879-1916), received some sixty residential commissions between 1909 and 1915 as a result of the booming local economy and subsequent development of new residential districts. Maclure's practice in Victoria was equally prolific at the time.
Overlynn is valued as one of Burnaby's oldest upper-class estates and for its association with the development of Vancouver Heights. In 1909, C.J. Peter and his employer, G.F. and J. Galt Limited, pioneered the development of Vancouver Heights in North Burnaby, believing it to be one of the most picturesque districts in the area and an alternative to the Canadian Pacific Railway's prestigious Shaughnessy Heights development in Vancouver. Buyers were obligated to build houses worth $3,500 at a time when the average house price was $1,000. Overlynn, built in 1909 for $75,000, was one of the first houses constructed in Vancouver Heights and by far the most grandiose and impressive.
Additionally, this landmark residence is significant as an intact and comprehensive representation of a grand Edwardian-era estate home. The interior is notably intact, and retains many highly-refined original features, including substantive millwork of exotic woods, silver-plated and nickel-plated light fixtures, fine plasterwork, tiled fireplaces and exceptional hardware. Landscape features of Overlynn include the original layout for circulation paths, a porte-cochere, granite posts and stone walls, a sandstone and iron sundial, and mature trees and shrubbery. The house was designated by Burnaby Council in 1995 and was the first heritage building in B.C. to receive legal protection for its interior features.
Source: Heritage Site Files, City of Burnaby, Planning and Building Department
Key elements that define the heritage character of Overlynn include its:
- prominent corner location on a steep sloping site in the Vancouver Heights neighbourhood
- views to Burrard Inlet and the North Shore mountains
- residential form, scale and massing as exemplified by its grand two-storey plus basement height and irregular plan
- British Arts and Crafts elements such as the rubble-stone granite masonry on the ground floor and foundation level, and decorative half-timbering and rough-cast stucco on the upper storey
- compound hipped bell-cast roof, clad with cedar shingles, with shed dormers at the rear
- subtle battering of ground floor and foundation level stonework
- porte-cochere with hipped roof and battered granite piers
- wood-clad projecting bay extensions
- irregular fenestration: double-hung 6-over-1 wooden-sash windows; multi-pane casement wooden windows with multi-pane transoms; diamond leaded casement windows; and banks of stained glass windows
- five tall rubble-stone granite block stone chimneys
- interior features such as the oak, cedar and Yaka (Australian mahogany) panelled walls, oak panelling and staircase walls inlaid with ebony, ivory and brass, stenciled canvas friezes, wooden dadoes and plaster walls, encaustic floor tiles, Australian gumwood floors, oak panelled doors with art glass, oak beamed ceiling with stucco panels, cast plaster vaulted hall and living room ceilings, sterling silver light fixtures including a chandelier and sconces, nickel-plated newel light, brass Art Nouveau styled ceiling light, brass stair carpet poles and locks, built-in bookcases and buffet, fireplace with encaustic tiles and firedogs, imported Medmenham fireplace tiles (the earliest known use outside of the United Kingdom), fireplace mantel with green tile and cast iron firebox, and inglenook fireplace with encaustic tiles and carved mantel and brass fireplace insert
- landscape features such as the granite gate posts and iron entrance gate, granite garden wall, sandstone garden steps, sandstone and iron sundial, granite and concrete terraces adjacent to the house, configuration of pathways and sandstone steps including the front access road, mature deciduous and coniferous tree stock including a Monkey Puzzle Tree and pruned shrubbery throughout the site