Ellis Street Cottage - Penticton, BC
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member T0SHEA
N 49° 30.116 W 119° 35.438
11U E 312435 N 5486481
Barely 250 metres from Okanagan Lake, the Ellis Street Cottage has been around for awhile now.
Waymark Code: WM153JT
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Date Posted: 10/09/2021
Views: 1

PIC Quite possibly the oldest extant building in Penticton, the cottage is the only remaining building to have appeared on the 1900 tax assessment roll. The earliest townsite in Penticton was laid out by Thomas Ellis in 1892. Hence, this cottage could have been built anytime between 1892 and 1899, though it is estimated that it was built in 1899.

Built in a mixed use residential-commercial district, the cottage has had many owners through the years. When present owners Rick & Julie Valenti purchased the rundown cottage in 2010, they restored the property to its former turn of the century style. The Valentis have managed to salvage what has become one of the very few reminders of the very earliest days of the City of Penticton.

This rustic historical marker has been placed by the cottage to make passersby aware that they may well be passing the oldest building in the city. The marker includes some of the story of the Ellis Street Cottage.

Ellis Street Cottage

Description of Historic Place:
The Ellis Street cottage is a small vernacular wood-frame house located adjacent to Penticton Creek and close to the site of the CPR wharf on Okanagan Lake in Penticton, British Columbia. The site comprises the cottage and the triangular lot on which it sits.

Heritage Value:
This simple side-gabled vernacular cottage was one of the earliest substantial residences built on the Penticton flats adjacent to Okanagan Lake, and is quite possibly the oldest surviving house in Penticton. It was constructed prior to 1900 as it was assessed during 1899 for the 1900 Assessment Roll, the oldest currently known for Penticton, and shown as being owned by H. E. Walker at that time. It was originally surrounded by a white picket fence and had a closed-in verandah which was removed by 1958.

The location of the cottage on Ellis Street is important as a remnant of the earliest townsite laid out by Thomas Ellis in 1892 on the east side of Penticton Creek, with Ellis Street developing a mixed use of businesses and residences. The cottage's location, on what was originally the end of Victoria Avenue, a lost street from the original survey, reminds us of the original Ellis townsite. The Ellis Street area is reminiscent of the commercial activity around the CPR wharf where goods were transported between the lake boats and wagons to the Fairview Road. The mixed uses on Ellis Street at the time the cottage was constructed provided support to nearby hotels, liveries, stores and services to traveling merchants and miners. While a few businesses sprung up on Ellis Street, within four years the commercial core moved west across Penticton Creek to Front Street, and subsequently to Main Street.

The cottage is also valued for its association with L.C. Barnes, who owned it in 1901. He is representative of the migration of settlers from the failing townsite of Fairview to the growing townsite of Penticton. His contributions to Penticton's early years include being a member of the first Penticton City Council, being the second owner of the well known livery stable eventually known as Welby's and owning a general store on Ellis Street. Thus the house reflects the close interaction between Penticton and the mining town of Fairview in the early years of the 20th century. It is also a testament to the early days of townsite settlement, when people lived in close proximity to their places of work.

The cottage then passed through many owners and tenants, including black and Chinese tenants who worked in the industries and services nearby, including a steam laundry next door. This rich history of working class occupants and ethnic minorities gives this site important cultural value to the community and reflects the change in the land use of Ellis Street, as the commercial district moved first to Front Street and then to Main Street.

Character-Defining Elements:
Key elements that define the heritage character of the CN Railway Bridge include its:
  • location facing Ellis Street and backing onto Penticton Creek
  • proximity to the former CPR wharf and the original bridge over Penticton Creek
  • original drop siding cladding and double hung windows
  • pine stumps above the windows that were used as ceiling joists for the former verandah
    From Historic Places Canada
Type of Marker: Cultural

Type of Sign: Historic Site or Building Marker

Describe the parking that is available nearby: Street parking is available at or near the cottage

What Agency placed the marker?: Unknown

Visit Instructions:
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Please include any thoughts or historic information about the area that the marker may represent.
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