The MacGowan Residence, located in the West End neighbourhood of Vancouver, is a turn of the twentieth century cottage characterized by its Queen Anne Revival style detailing. It is one of a number of early homes in the Mole Hill area, and is an integral part of the historic streetscapes that define the block.
Constructed in 1903-04, the MacGowan Residence is an example of the building speculation that provided the majority of housing for the rapidly expanding city during the early boom years. The house is an integral part of Vancouver’s most intact group of early houses, now known as Mole Hill. The substantially intact block fronts facing Comox, Pendrell, Bute and Thurlow Streets provide a comprehensive illustration of the development of Vancouver housing between 1888 and 1908.The MacGowan House attains value as part of this intact grouping, and contributes to its overall historic character.
The MacGowan Residence represents a relatively rare and fairly late example of Queen Anne Revival architecture. The style was popularized during the late 1800s by British architect Richard Norman Shaw, and remained common through to the end of the nineteenth century. The end of the nineteenth century represented a transition between the medieval-inspired styles of the late Victorian era and the pervasive classicism becoming popular during the Edwardian era. The MacGowan Residence reflects the late persistence of the picturesque romanticism and carpenter ornamentation of the Victorian era into the new century. The house was designed and built by John Phillip Matheson, an early Vancouver contractor, who also had the expertise to provide architectural designs. He later went into business with his son, Robert Matheson, after his graduation from the University of Pennsylvania in 1911; Robert later became a founding partner in Townley & Matheson architects.
The first residents of the house were Roy MacGowan (1869-1948) and his wife, Emma Georgina (née Sowden, 1880-1967), who were married in 1904. Born in Prince Edward Island, Roy was the son of prominent businessman and MLA, Alexander Henry Boswall MacGowan (1850-1927), and worked for his father’s company, MacGowan & Company, one of the largest shipping, commission and insurance enterprises in the city. Roy was also a Captain in the British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own) and served in the First World War. In its current form, this modest house has provided family accommodation for over a century.