It’s midnight in Port Moody, B.C., and the streets are predictably quiet, so it’s the perfect time to move a house right through the downtown.
Late Friday evening, hydro, cable, and city crews worked together to move a 1922 heritage house from the corner of Hugh Street and Saint Johns Street to its new lot a few minutes down the road.
The one-and-a-half storey home — called Siddall Residence after its original owner — is a Craftsman-style house with a full length porch.
The house is one of three heritage homes that have been saved from demolition by restaurateur and Anmore resident Fred Soofi.
“It’s important to preserve history,” said Soofi. “You know we have to leave something for the next generation, so they know how their parents and grandparents lived.”
The 1922 built Siddall Residence heritage house backs into its new home on Douglas Street in Port Moody @cbcnewsbc pic.twitter.com/LjsxF6EdF2
To save the heritage homes, Soofi bought the buildings and arranged to physically move them to the other downtown property, which he purchased.
The move took several hours, and more than a dozen people to negotiate the many cables, and street lights along the way.
“There’s about two weeks of preparation to detach the house from its foundation, to lift it and place big steel beams under the joists so that the house is not going to be shaken up … when it’s being transported,” said project consultant, Gaëtan Royer.
Royer’s firm was hired to prepare a background report on the three heritage properties and help coordinate the move.
“There’s a lot of people out here and it’s a bit of a logistical nightmare, but we make it happen with military precision,” said Royer.
He said the houses will be retrofitted with new foundations and renovated over the next six months, at which point they will be sold.
The Siddell house is typical of the housing built between the First and Second World Wars in Port Moody, according to the report prepared by Royer.
Parts of Saint Johns Street in Port Moody closed to traffic overnight for moving of heritage home @cbcnewsbc pic.twitter.com/5l8vlgM63Z
Passion for heritage preservation
This isn’t Soofi’s first time saving heritage homes from demolition. In 2003, Port Moody’s Appleyard residence, built in 1910, was due to be bulldozed by developers when Soofi moved the residence, which went on to form part of the Port Moody Arts Centre.
He also moved a heritage property to Grant Street, to join another heritage building he restored, and sold the two as family homes.
Soofi moved to Canada from Iran at age 22 and worked his way up in the food industry to become the owner of several restaurants.
He said his passion for heritage preservation comes from his home country, where he said there was an appreciation for older buildings.
“I like the history you know because this is part of [what] we want to preserve. I’m doing my best to do it,” Stoffi said.
A small group of neighbours and community members came out to follow the house on its peculiar journey to its new home.
“It’s a nice way to bring a little bit more density into the residential area of [Port] Moody centre,’ said Rick Glumac, MLA for Port Moody-Coquitlam.
All three properties have been placed on the municipal and provincial heritage registers, protecting them with a heritage covenant, so that they cannot be demolished in the future.