Vernon Community Music School president Al Szeliga (left) and Vernon Mayor Rob Sawatzky gather on the front steps to recognize the school’s commitment to restoring and preserving the building which is recognized as a heritage site.

Vernon Community Music School president Al Szeliga (left) and Vernon Mayor Rob Sawatzky gather on the front steps to recognize the school’s commitment to restoring and preserving the building which is recognized as a heritage site.

City of Vernon recognizes Vernon Community Music School

The City of Vernon has recognized the Vernon Community Music School for its commitment to heritage preservation.

The City of Vernon has recognized the Vernon Community Music School for its commitment to heritage preservation.

In October 2012, the city presented music school officials with a heritage plaque in recognition of the heritage significance of the building.

The plaque is located at the front of the music school along 32nd Avenue where it can be easily viewed by the public.

“The Vernon Community Music School is in the process of completing building repairs and updating their foundation so they can provide a safe and viable musical home for generations to come, said Vernon Mayor Rob Sawatzky.

The school is located in the Smith house, a two-storey Dutch Colonial gambrel house found at 1705-32nd Avenue.

This historic place is valued for its association with a succession of owners and their contributions to the social and cultural life of Vernon.

S. C. Smith (1849-1933) was a prominent businessman and civic leader in the 1890s and early 1900s.

He established a lumber operation on Howe Sound in 1891 and the next year moved it to Vernon. Smith’s sash and door factory, which operated from the mid-1890s until Smith’s death, was the town’s largest employer and the source of most of the local building material.

In 1894, it cut 17,000 doors.

Smith had sawmills in Enderby and Naramata and a lumberyard in Penticton. Mrs. Smith died before the house was finished but Smith moved in and lived there with several family members. Upon Smith’s death, it was unoccupied until 1941, when Clement Smith (son) returned to lived there.

In 1956, the Catholic Church bought it as a convent for the Sisters of St. Anne, who taught at St. James Catholic School. In 1981, the house was sold to the City of Vernon. The city designated the building as a municipal heritage site that same year.

The city and the B.C. Heritage Trust contributed funds for its restoration, after which it was used as the headquarters for the 1982 B.C. Summer Games. The city then sold the building to the Vernon Community Music School in 1982.

The music school created studios in the house and also renovated the carriage house.

The Smith house is also valued for its high quality of architectural design.

Commissioned in 1905 and completed in 1908, at a cost of $13,000, a significant sum at the time, it is Vernon’s 48 most significant Colonial Revival villa.

A large frame structure, the house is side-gabled with a gambrel roof with wide over-hanging eaves decorated with modillions. A two-storey portico with Tuscan pillars and matching semi-circular porches on either side dominates the front façade.

Other fine design details include bay windows, an attached one-storey conservatory, balustrades above the porches, cedar siding, fieldstone foundation. Interior features include large rooms finished with plaster, fir and hardwoods. There is a ballroom with a sprung floor in the attic. In the rear is a fine carriage house with a gambrel roof. The house was a significant project that spurred growth in the new Lakeview subdivision.