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City buys historic Booth farm house
A place where Coquitlam pioneers gathered after church for Sunday picnics will be saved by the city as part of its push to preserve heritage homes and buildings.
On Wednesday, Mayor Richard Stewart announced the municipality had bought Booth Farm on Brunette Avenue for $590,000 — plus an adjoining vacant lot for $510,000 — with the aim to re-create the community spirit that once prevailed on the property.
Built in 1901, Booth Farm is either the oldest or second oldest home in Coquitlam. According to the city's heritage inventory narrative, a home on nearby Marathon Court (known as the Brehaut House) was built in either 1898 or 1909.
Booth Farm was built with lumber from Fraser Mills in Maillardville, which at the turn of the last century was the biggest sawmill in the British Commonwealth. The property is named after the original owner, Ralph Booth, the area's reeve from 1904 to 1908.
Stewart, who grew up three blocks from Booth Farm, said at a news conference Wednesday he could imagine the pioneering families such as the Boileaus, Parés, Seguins and Marcaux — his mother's ancestors — enjoying the activities on the dairy farm.
With the recent acquisition of Booth Farm — a two-storey, 2,300 sq. ft. home — the city now owns three heritage assets, including Ryan House and Mackin House, both located beside Place des Arts and built in 1908 and 1913 respectively. All three homes are listed as of "primary" value in the city's heritage inventory.
Now, the city will undertake a detailed analysis of the property for its long-term use, Stewart said, adding, "I look forward to the next chapter of Booth Farm."
He also singled out Coun. Craig Hodge for his efforts in preserving Booth Farm. The chair of the city's Maillardville Commercial and Cultural Revitalization Advisory Committee, Hodge said it has been his dream to have Booth Farm in the public's hands.
Hodge said he envisions the property hosting community gardens and day camps, for example, and being the site of a future trailhead to the nearby BC Hydro corridor.
"This property played an important part in our history," said Hodge, adding he hopes Booth Farm will be ready in time for Coquitlam's 125th birthday celebrations in 2016.
Still, he said the property has its challenges as the structure — formerly owned by the late Rosaleen Morgan — is more than a century old and located on a busy, narrow street.
The city first mentioned its plans to buy the Booth Farm in June when the draft Maillardville Neighbourhood Plan was presented before council-in-committee. The city intends to place Heritage Revitalization Agreements (HRA) on eight "primary" properties in Maillardville in an attempt to avoid their demolition. To date, four HRA have been secured by the city and another is in the works, Hodge said.