Sunday, December 8, 2013

Wilmar Mansion sells

Sitting high on the Marine Drive escarpment bordering the Fraser river sits Wilmar Mansion.  If there is one property in Vancouver you dutiful scribe would love to acquire, it is this one.

(click on all images to enlarge)

Originally developed around 1925, this estate sits on almost 2 acres (84,831.7 square feet) of prime land at 2050 SW Marine Drive. The centre piece of this site is an old Tudor styled home with almost 9,000 square feet of living space untouched from its days of grandeur (regrettably that means the disrepair is such that lots of 'touching' is now required).

Next to the home is a 3 car garage with an undeveloped coach house.

The mansion was part of a $40 million estate that was bequeathed to the Vancouver Foundation when Judith Jardine passed away in 2006. Jardine, 82 at the time of her death, was the last of a family whose fortune was made by her grandfather, William Kitchen.

William Kitchen built railroads in New Brunswick before moving to B.C., where he became a director of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway, which in turn became BC Rail.

In 1925 Kitchen bought the property for $10,000 and constructed the mansion that currently sits on the site. The mansion's name 'Wil mar' is a contraction of Willard and his wife, Mary Kitchen.

The mansion was designed in the Tudor Revival style, with typical features such as half-timbered gables and notable brickwork and chimneys. Tudor Revival was popular with clients throughout the British Commonwealth as it reflected a long lineage of English country manors, prestige and an aristocratic lifestyle.

Willard and Mary had three daughters — Agnes, Ellen and Gladys. The two eldest daughters — Agnes and Ellen — never married. The third, Gladys, studied law at the University of New Brunswick and was called to the bar in 1918. She became one of Vancouver’s first female lawyers.

Gladys married William Jardine, a local banker, and they had one child — Judith.

Like her two aunts, Judith Jardine never married. She was passionately interested in the arts and teaching (though it’s unclear whether she ever taught professionally). She received an MA in French from UBC in 1947, was Secretary of Vancouver’s Community Arts Council from 1962 to 1979, and co-authored a book on the history of the council.

In 1987, Jardine’s Aunt Ellen — the last of three Kitchen daughters — died, and Jardine inherited WilMar Estate.

Judith Jardine was Willard and Mary Kitchen's only grandchild. In her later years she suffered from dementia.

Apart from that, little else is known of Judith Jardine.

Vancouver Foundation President and CEO Faye Wightman, in a Vancouver Sun article earlier this year, said:
"It's as if she purposely decided to live under the radar."
When her will was read, the UBC Faculty of Medicine, Vancouver School of Theology and Vancouver Foundation were all surprised to find they were included as beneficiaries. Since Jardine’s death in 2006, and as the extent of the Jardine estate became clearer, the beneficiaries realized they had been given about $42 million ($6.4 million, $50,000 and $34 million, respectively).

Jardine's bequest is among the largest charitable donations ever made in B.C.

The bequest was made in memory of Jardine's father William (the fund will be called the W.E. Jardine Memorial Fund) and it is expected to generate about $1.4 million for granting every year. Jardine wanted this money split in two — with $700,000 annually going to BC Conference of the United Church, and $700,000 to Vancouver Foundation.

Wightman said it came as a complete surprise when Jardine's will was read:
"This is someone none of us ever knew. She's someone who the more you learn about, in some ways, the less you seem to know. We have only a few pictures of her. We know she was passionately interested in the arts and teaching and was involved with the Vancouver Arts Council."
After Jardine inherited WilMar and the family fortune in 1987, she lived in the house alone until her death in 2006.

In 2011 the Vancouver Foundation enlisted the services of real estate Larry Yatkowsky to sell the mansion. After sitting vacant for several years with no takers, a renovation and redevelopment plan which will include the construction of five new homes on the extensive property (while seeing the historic Tudor structure is preserved) was tabled and allowed a sale to be brokered.

In some ways is sad to see the property change hands in this manner.

(Oh, to be able to personally procure and restore this magnificent house)

So as news that this wonderful old mansion has officially sold, we offer a few photos of a property long past it's prime and a throwback to another era…

(hat tip Larry Yatkowsky)


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  1. Not sure the 'Wilmar for Whisperer' campaign would generate enough money to pick it up for you VW


    good site covering the undoing of The League

  3. 4785 West 2nd is another good story. The house sat undisturbed for decades before being bought and apparently renovated, not demolished (yay!). There was an article in the Sun newspaper a few years ago about this sale.

  4. Not to worry, Whisperer. It will be restored, and developed with a few other prime houses that will be bought by hot money and all will be kept in its current condition: empty.

  5. If you google 4785 West 2nd there some articles about the new owners cutting trees on the property against CoV bylaws and the house is currently rented for $20,000 a month!

    1. $10000

  6. also listed on craigslist for both $10,000 a month and $9500 per month. Listed for a while too so that indicates not many takers at that price.