Photos: Peek Inside the Historic Shannon Mansion
The Beaux Arts beauty will be opening its doors for this year’s Heritage House Tour.
Architect Robert Lemon has been hard at work restoring Vancouver’s Shannon property for 15 years—which means he’s spent more time there than the man who originally commissioned the project. Benjamin Tingley Rogers, the owner of Rogers Sugar, first hired American architects Somervell and Putnam to design his dream estate in 1913, but died before construction was complete.
The stunning property, now managed by Wall Financial, includes the 30,000 square foot mansion featured on this year’s Heritage House Tour, restored with painstaking detail to be as close as possible to its 1930s Beaux Arts glory.
“It took quite a bit of research,” explains Lemon, whose team used black and white photos as the starting point for the restoration. “Thanks to two good photographs, we could see the configuration of the wallpaper and have that reproduced by a woman in New Hampshire who specializes in period wallpaper.”
There were some educated guesses made about the colour of the paper, done with research from the Smithsonian. Plus a detailed paint sample analysis was performed to get the colours of the trims and ceilings just right. “It’s quite authentic,” says Lemon. “When you’re doing a restoration, it’s better to not have to pretend. You want confidence in those details.”
The light fixtures were another key element. “Several were missing, but we had those photographs,” says Lemon. Third-generation lighting design company Nelson and Garrett created replicas of the large glass-panelled lanterns (but ones that use modern LED bulbs).
To figure out what to do with the newel post, Lemon’s team turned to an unusual source: the movie Carnal Knowledge, filmed in the mansion in the ’70s. A grainy still of Jack Nicholson revealed a post topped with something that looked almost like a cornucopia. So for this architectural update, they went with an artichoke instead. “There used to be extensive greenhouses on the property where the family would grow their own food and flowers,” says Lemon.
Outside, though the hard landscaping may look like stone, it was originally concrete, so Lemon and the team used a similar concrete mix to replicate the look while doing repairs.
Want to see inside the gorgeous space yourself? Check out the Heritage House Tour, June 4, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets available here.