The contest, which marked 100 years of architecture as a profession in BC, received more than 450 nominations. People were then invited to vote online for their favourites in four regions, including the interior. The top 25 in each category were then forwarded to a panel of judges to assess their “appearance, sentimental value, historical significance and originality.” There were only 35 nominees in the interior category to begin with.
The judges were BC artist and heritage expert Michael Kluckner, journalist Shelley Fralic, and Architecture Foundation chair David M. Hewitt.
Owners of the winning buildings receive plaques and runners-up get certificates.
In the interior category, the winner was Seabird Island School in Agassiz, and the runners-up were the Fernie courthouse and Langham Cultural Centre.
The judges remarked that the Langham was the “only nominated site recalling the Japanese-Canadian internment during the Second World War.”
The Langham was erected in 1896-97 by bottling works proprietor Charles Kapps and was home to a bank and rooming house. During the Second World War, it was converted into an internment centre and was home to about 80 families.
By 1974, it was on the verge of demolition when a local group saw its potential and restored it. In the words of its nominator, Nicola Harte, whose parents were among those who saved it, “To this day it plays a vital role as a cultural arts centre throughout the West Kootenay supporting regional and national professional artists, as well as emerging Columbia Basin artists.”
It also houses two galleries, a theatre, and museum. The Langham, which won Heritage Canada’s national prize in 1977, recently marked its 40th anniversary as a cultural hub with a gala weekend that reunited many of its founders.
“We are thrilled to be celebrated by the Architecture Foundation of BC as one of BC’s best buildings,” said Langham executive director Maggie Tchir. “We concur! The Langham is not only a beautiful old heritage building with an interesting history, but it inspired a vision which grew and continues to grow into a legacy of four decades and counting, of support for the arts, heritage and culture in Kaslo and throughout the region.”
Tchir said the award was the “icing on the cake” of their 40-year celebration.
The Star is preparing a series on the building’s little-known early history, which will appear in the next few weeks.
Although final online tallies in the contest weren’t released with the list of winners Monday, the Langham was far back of the lead a few days before voting closed in September. The Mission Hill winery in Kelowna was the most popular building in the entire contest, followed in its category by the Kootenay Lake Village glass house near Procter.
Other local nominees included St. Saviour’s Anglican Cathedral and Old Scandinavian Church in Nelson, as well as Nelson Chrysler and Gerick Cycle and Ski buildings in Nelson and Trail.