The Little Yellow School House
Henry Hudson Elementary, Vancouver
Built in 1912 this charming wooden school house is slated for demolition to make room for the new Henry Hudson Elementary in Vancouver's Kitsilano neighbourhood.
Renewal Home Development, working with our moving company partner Nickel Bros, contacted the Vancouver School Board at the 11th hour to try and save, relocate and repurpose this historic building.
Built as a Manual Training School in 1912 and designed by Vancouver School Board Architect N. A. Leech it is now being used for Out of School Care.
Heritage Vancouver had this charming building on its Top 10 Demolition Watch List.
Last Minute Rescue?
In mid January 2023, through coincidence and sheer luck, we became aware of the Vancouver School Board's demolition plans for Yellow School House through the Vancouver Vanishes Facebook page.
The demolition is scheduled to happen as soon as the current child care tenants move to a new location. The move-out is tentatively scheduled for March 31st.
Given the character and well maintained condition of the building we reached out to the new Vancouver School Board to offer a relocation and repurposing solution. This would save the VSB both time and money. On January 30th, 2023 we visited the site to assess relocation feasibility.
We confirmed the Yellow School House is an ideal candidate for relocation and repurposing.
We now are preparing a "right of way" access request through a nearby beach with the Vancouver Park Board to relocate the Yellow School House by barge.
We are in conversation with two First Nation communities who have expressed interest to receive the building and to use it as housing or a learning centre.
A Beloved School
The Yellow School House at Henry Hudson Elementary is cherished by many parents, children and community members.
We anticipate an outpouring of support to see it relocated and repurposed instead of demolished.
Every year 2,600 single family homes are demolished across Metro Vancouver.
The average 2,000 sq ft. building demolished wastes 65 tones of CO2e embodied carbon and 100 tones of raw material waste.
We estimate 300 - 500 of these demolished homes and buildings are in good to excellent condition and worth relocating and repurposing.
The planned demolition of the Little Yellow School House is yet another example of the need for local municipalities to embrace policies that help us move away from a "Demolition First" paradigm that includes relocation and repurposing as an important solution.
The slated demolition of the 1912 Yellow School House highlights a series of policy failures.
When a home or building is slated for demolition there should be permitting incentives for the owner to investigate (a) infill and retention (b) relocation and repurposing [our work] (c) deconstruction. In that order for best first use. Outright demolition, as is scheduled for the Yellow School House, should be the very last option. We call this the Triage Approach. The City of Seattle is currently working on a policy to this effect.
Moreover, municipalities can create further incentives for developers and home owners to divert good homes and buildings from ending up in our local landfills through "Early Green Removal Permits."
By providing early green removal permits building relocation companies and building deconstruction companies can work with developers to begin the sustainable removal of a building at least 4-8 weeks before the demolition permit is issued. This would save the developer both time and money. They would have a clear lot the day they receive their DP or BP and could begin construction right way.
Early green removal also helps reduce vandalism, squatting and fire risk associated with empty boarded up buildings. The City of Coquitlam is currently working on a permit along these lines.