Financial constraints are holding back the removal of a tree that threatens a historically significant house in James Bay.
The former residence of Alice Carr, sister to famous painter Emily Carr, sits on a cracked foundation at 218-220 St. Andrew’s St. The roots of a large maple have impeded upon the house’s structure.
“This house is really quite important historically and unfortunately there’s this huge tree that’s causing foundation problems,” said Steve Barber, senior heritage planner with the City of Victoria.
The house’s owner, Barbara Saunders, an artist who works under her maiden name Richardson, has lived there since 1976. Her parents bought the building a decade earlier, and she hasn’t been able to afford to have the tree removed.
Bartlett Tree Experts offered to cut down the tree, free of charge.
Barber approached Bartlett’s owner Noah Violini and asked him to donate the work. Violini agreed.
“We said yes. It was a matter of just trying to help,” said Mike Evers, manager of the Victoria branch of the company.
However, taking down the tree is but a fraction of the work that needs to be done.
Apart from the cracking foundation, walls are buckling and windows are breaking. Structural repairs are needed as well but Saunders said she can’t afford them.
“This is an important (house). … It’s national history,” she said. “It’s not just come and cut a bit of tree out.
“Somebody else will have to carry the torch — or I need help to carry the torch is more to the point.”
Saunders plans to rent out a portion of the house to an Emily Carr fan to ease the financial burden.
While the Victoria Heritage Foundation offers grants to repair historically significant homes, it only covers a portion of the cost.
Initially, Bartlett Tree Experts and the city agreed to remove the tree in October, but the scope of the work has pushed the project back until at least spring 2012.
Did you know?
The Carr acreage was developed in 1863. It was split into five lots for the children.
Alice Carr was a teacher and taught at the house, which doubled as a school. Emily Carr taught art classes there.
Alice often travelled with her artist sister Emily and cared for her. Emily died in 1945 and Alice in 1953, both in Victoria.