Architecture

DESCRIPTION OF HISTORIC PLACE

The Potato House is a one-and-one-half storey wood frame residence located at 49 Borland Street in the original downtown area of Williams Lake, British Columbia. The property includes an extensive rear yard area and mature fruit trees. A stone wall with a simple wooden gate extends along the Borland Street frontage.

HERITAGE VALUE

The ‘Potato House’ has historical value as a reflection of the pioneering history and characters of the Cariboo area. Built in the 1930s, the house is the last of a series of buildings constructed by the Borkowski brothers still standing in Williams Lake. Although the Borkowski brothers were not trained as carpenters, they taught themselves the trade using borrowed books. This small vernacular structure is a valued reminder of these local builders and their contribution to the development of Williams Lake. 

The property is also valued as an example of Williams Lake’s agricultural history. When the house was purchased in 1956, the new owner established an iconic market garden on the property. The primary product of this garden was potatoes, hence the name given to this property by the community was the ‘Potato House.’ In 2012 the property was purchased by the Potato House Sustainable Community Society and converted into a centre for the promotion of community agriculture and sustainability. It is now used as a meeting space and community garden. 

Source: City of Williams Lake, Planning Department

CHARACTER-DEFINING ELEMENTS

Key character-defining elements of the Potato House include: 

– The one-and-one-half storey gable-roof form, with small porch on northern façade 
– Surviving original exterior features and materials, including the shingle roof, wooden façade and wooden window frames 
– Surviving original interior features and materials, including the hardwood floors, trim, solid wood staircase, and knob-and-tube electrical wiring 
– Mature fruit trees located in various parts of the property, including varieties of Heritage Yellow Apple and Cherry Apple 
– The general rear yard area, which was used for market gardens 
– The name of the property: ‘The Potato House’ 
– Original skeleton key locks 
– Remnants of the wooden boardwalk in rear yard

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