Belgo House is a two-storey Foursquare plan wood-frame farmhouse, situated among other farms and orchards on a large country estate near Belgo Pond in Kelowna's rural Belgo / Black Mountain neighbourhood, far removed from the city centre. The house sits on a landscaped property with a cedar hedge, fruit trees, mature coniferous trees, a vineyard, rock walls, a white fence and paths.
Built in 1912, the heritage value of Belgo House is associated with its prominent original owner, the Hon. Grote Stirling (1875-1953), a civil engineer and politician from England who was the Conservative MP for Yale (which included Kelowna) from 1924-47, and served from 1930-34 as Minister of National Defence in the R.B. Bennett Government. Stirling designed the irrigation system for the Belgo Land Company development. The house is also associated with other businessman who lived here that had a strong impact on Kelowna's development, including E. M. Caruthers, manager of the Land and Agriculture Company of Canada's Belgo properties and Joseph Casorso, who held extensive ranch leases in the area. The property is also significant for its location on one of the earliest roads in Kelowna, and one of the earliest stagecoach stops in the area was close by.
Belgo House is also significant as an example of early twentieth century transitional architecture that displays a blend of stylistic influences. It is a well-proportioned classic design of a large simple Foursquare farmhouse with an Arts and Crafts influence. Notable features include its multi-pane windows, a large partially inset verandah, and broad hipped roof with tall, paired, symmetrical chimneys. A later clapboard siding obscures the original half-timbering on the second floor.
The heritage value of this residence is also associated with its English born and trained architect, P. Edmund Corby (1879-1966), who moved to Canada mid-career and lived in Kelowna between 1912 and 1920. After service during the First World War, Corby moved to Victoria, where he continued to work as an architect and builder until 1943. Belgo House is one of two extant examples of Corby's work in Kelowna; the other is the British North American Tobacco Co. Ltd. Building on Ellis Street. The contractor for this house was a prominent local builder, Michael J. Curts.
Character Defining Elements
Key elements that define the heritage character of Belgo House include its:
- landscaped rural setting on a large, forested, lake-front property, overlooking Belgo Pond;
- residential form, scale and massing as expressed by its two-storey height (with basement), hipped roof and symmetrical cubic plan;
- cobblestone foundations and wood-frame construction;
- exterior details such as its full-width, partially-inset open front verandah with square support columns and balusters, concrete stairs with cobblestone stair cheeks, rear open porch with square columns and balusters, and two tall internal red brick chimneys;
- regular fenestration, including elongated, single and multiple assembly 2-over-4 double-hung wooden-sash windows;
- original siding including stucco and wood half-timbering, obscured by a later siding;
- substantially intact interior, including features such as an original dumbwaiter; and
- planted and landscaped yard that reinforces the feeling of a country estate, incorporating stone retaining walls, terraces, rockery gardens, broad lawns, hedges and mature specimen trees.