The F.J. Hart/BC Tel Building is a simple, one storey pre-fabricated wood building constructed originally for commercial enterprises in the Aldergrove area of Langley. It has a simple rectangular plan with a covered verandah running along the narrow front end of the building and which is notable for its use of turned columns and neo-classical balusters.
The area of Aldergrove is important because of its community, commercial and transportation history. The original name of this area was “”Shortreed””. It was named after Robert Shortreed Jr. who arrived in 1883, followed by his extended family 2 years later, and who homesteaded in the area. He ran a general store that included the telegraph and post office as well as a blacksmith shop. The name was later changed to “”Alder Grove”” because of the abundance of fine stands of Alder trees in the area and, later still, the name became all one word (possibly at the insistence of the post office).
Aldergrove was one of two stops for the Great Northern Railway as it passed through Langley Township. The presence of the railway encouraged logging companies to lease large timber holdings in the area, because they could easily connect their camps with spurs to the Great Northern Line. The combination of the logging industry and the railway stimulated the development of a commercial centre. The development savvy of such men as F.J. Hart stimulated the residential, commercial and small scale agricultural growth in the area.
The F.J. Hart Building is significant because of its historical and social signficance. Constructed in 1910 for Frederick John Hart, a Newfoundlander who came west as a young man, this building is historically significant for its association with Hart and for its representation of a way of life. Hart was a life insurance salesman and a realtor who successfully promoted settlement of the Aldergrove area by facilitating building construction and a planned townsite. He also donated land to build a church. He was well known and respected in the community and many attribute the successful development of Aldergrove to him. Hart is also known in the City of Burnaby for his summer home now called ‘Hart House’ at Burnaby Lake.
The building is an early example of a British Columbian pre-fabricated building. Manufactured and patented by B.C. Mills Timber & Trading Company, this design can be identified by its size and shape, and by the regular use of vertical battens that cover up the pre-fab wooden panels underneath. While other samples of this design can be found throughout Western Canada, this building provides an excellent local example.
The change in use of this building accurately mirrors the change that occurred in the community as it grew from a pioneer village to a town. At first, this building held three functions: bank, home improvement store, and realty office. Four years later the building was sold to BC Telephone Company and operated as the local telephone exchange until no longer needed in 1952. Since 1993, it has functioned as a telephone museum and community archives for the Aldergrove area.
Of importance to the community is the fact that this building is a symbol of heritage conservation in and for Aldergrove. It is a municipally owned building restored and managed by the Alder Grove Heritage Society.
The character-defining elements of the F.J. Hart Building include its:
- Simple rectangular plan
- Interior original wood flooring and wall coverings
- Medium hip roof
- Covered verandah along front elevation
- Turned columns and neo-classical balusters of front verandah
- Double front doors each with single light transom
- Number, design and location of windows (tall, narrow, two by two, single light transom) on side and back elevations
- Vertical battens
- Pre-fab wooden panels
- Replicated building sign advertising “B.C. Telephone Co. Ltd.” is in its original location
Source: Langley Centennial Museum - heritage files.