Much of the character of Kitsilano is drawn from the historic houses that can be found while walking the tree-lined streets.
As well, the landscaping and gardens of the homes here reveal wonderful examples of West Coast gardening – from Zen to English gardens.
One lovely example of Kitsilano character can be seen on Stephens Street, where many houses have been listed as heritage buildings by the city. Take a walk on Stephens Street, and in particular check out these blocks: 1600, 1800, 1900 with an eye for the heritage character of the houses on these streets. The 2200 block has even more heritage-listed homes, then there are a few more on 2300 and the 2400 blocks. I find these heritage homes offer not only character, but an anchor to the area that keeps it in touch with the past. The heritage designation means that these homes are less likely to be significantly changed without preservation of their original intention.
But heritage does not mean that a building cannot be revitalized, and you can see a great example of this at 2990 West 5th Avenue. An existing house, built in the 1920’s, is listed in the Vancouver Heritage Register, and is also part of a significant streetscape of similar Craftsman or “California” Bungalow style architecture. It has been renovated and remodeled in a method of conservation called “adaptive re-use”. The single-family house was converted into a back-to-back duplex through a 12 foot addition to the back of the house, and two bays extending out on either side. This adaptation respects the historic fabric of the existing building, and retains the character of the area.