The Roedde House is one of the few remaining reminders of Vancouver’s Victorian past. Built in the Queen Anne Revival style in 1893 for the Roedde family, the house underwent an extensive restoration in the 1980s and ‘90s and is now the only museum of its kind in Vancouver.
Since the family lived in the house during the reign of Victoria, Edward VII, and George V, the house’s restoration does not attempt to capture a purely Victorian aesthetic. Instead, the juxtaposition of styles, such as the elaborate Victorian parlor with the more functional Arts and Crafts dining room, as well as the various technologies, highlight the changing world of the Roedde family and life in Vancouver.
The Roedde family arrived in Vancouver in 1888. Gustav Roedde quickly established himself as a successful businessman and one of the first bookbinders in the developing city which, only a few years earlier, had been razed by fire. Roedde hired the architect Francis Rattenbury to design his new home.
Shortly after designing the Roedde House Rattenbury briefly became one of the most sought-after architects in British Columbia designing the building that now houses the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Empress Hotel in Victoria. Rattenbury later gained notoriety for his torrid personal life and murder at the hands of his wife’s lover, events which inspired the Terence Rattigan play Cause Célèbre.
The Roedde family lived in the home until 1925, when they moved to the more affluent neighborhood of Point Grey. After they left, the Roedde House changed hands several times, being sold to the city in the 1960s. During this time, the house fell into disrepair and, by the 1970s, the city planned to demolish the house and several other Victorian houses on the same block into a park.
After pressure from community groups, and with the help of both the remaining Roedde family and the printing company Gustav Roedde had started (which remains in business today), the home was restored as closely as possible to what it had looked like during the 30 years the family lived there. It’s now open as a museum that contains thousands of artifacts, including many owned by the Roeddes.
Know Before You Go
The museum is located on a shady street in the heart of Vancouver’s West End. During the summer the museum is open Wednesday to Friday and Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm. In the winter, the museum is open Wednesday to Friday and Sunday from 1 pm to 4 pm. Admission is $10 with the option of a complimentary guided tour. 'Tea & Tour' is on the last Sunday of each month and admission is $15 and includes tea and cookies. There are also monthly jazz concerts which are free by donation outside during the summer months and ticketed inside during the winter. Check the museum's website for special events and concert programming.
The museum is on the #5 Robson bus route from Burrard Skytrain Station. Get off at Broughton St. and it’s a short walk to Barclay St. from there. The museum also has dedicated parking spots behind the museum in stalls No. 16-19.