Houses at Elizabeth Street, Burlington

Dan Chalykoff Heritage Consultancy Project

You can see just looking at this building that it’s a modest old house clad in utilitarian materials that have long since become architecturally voguish. A townhouse development was proposed, with the support of a heritage consultant, based on the premise that such insignificant “worker” housing wouldn’t impact the cultural heritage narrative of downtown Burlington.

The Peer Review work requested of me set out the argument that history is history whether it’s the history of “working” people or the leisure class. Moreover, the growth and industry that once flourished on Brant Street wouldn’t have been possible without employees to get the work done. Some of those people lived in the houses that were eventually demolished. My argument was that the scale and the urban setbacks of the houses (from the sidewalk) spoke loudly and clearly to the villages that were once Port Nelson and Wellington Square, two of the urban building blocks comprising contemporary Burlington. Two of the three houses were demolished in about 2008 and the townhouses are up and occupied with no trace of what stood for well over a century.

Again, the approach recommended by me was to proceed with a re-designed set of townhouses that incorporated the old houses right into the development in a much less tract-built way so that old Burlington could evolve organically rather than the wipe-the-slate-clean and build it “new.”