House F – Captain Wilfrid and Margaret Philpott House (1905)

photo: Paul Fuoco

by Lindsay Delair

In 1905, Master Mariner, Captain W.H. Philpott and his wife Margaret built their family home ‘Westham’ at 433 Carnarvon Street.  The Neo-Edwardian house featured a stunning view of the Fraser River and remained in the family for over 60 years. The ensuing decades weren’t so kind.  The next owners converted Westham into suites. Eventually, it became a halfway house. Finally, the once gracious home fell into disrepair and was slated for demolition to make room for a high-rise – until fate intervened.

New Westminster Heritage Preservation Society - Westham, Captain W. H. Philpott House (1905)
The house move – May 27, 1990 photo: Bob Toporowski

In May 1990, Westham was one of three heritage homes relocated to the picturesque Queen’s Park neighbourhood and settled on its new foundation at 121 St. Patrick Street. Then the arduous task of rehabilitation and modernization began. Taking stock, many of the home’s original features had been removed or stolen over the years, including the home’s  impressive stained-glass windows. 

The suite walls from the halfway house days were ripped out and the plumbing and wiring were updated.  A local craftsman constructed custom kitchen cabinets to match the original cabinetry in the butler pantry. The new wooden counters were distressed to complement the cupboards’ vintage  veneer.  The porch off the kitchen became the laundry room and the water closet.  The upstairs bath and ensuite were tiled and outfitted with period and reproduction pieces.  The fir floors were refinished, and period lighting was sourced and installed.  Lastly, the exterior was repaired and painted in hues of cream, dusty pinks and plums, accentuating the veranda’s columns.

New Westminster Heritage Preservation Society - Westham, Captain W. H. Philpott House (1905)
Photo: Paul Fuoco

The present owners bought the house in 1993 and set about making Westham their family home.  They added a wood burning stove in the back parlour and painted and wallpapered the builder-beige walls. They filled the house with family heirlooms, including the family portraits in the foyer and they began to collect period furnishings and bibelots. 

In the fall of 2014, a leaking pipe caused water damage in the back parlour. During the restoration work, the owners took the opportunity to redecorate. They installed gas fireplaces with period surrounds and tiles in the back parlour and dining room.  On the second floor, the bathroom was reconfigured to make room for a shower.  An electric fireplace and antique surround with imported English tiles was added to the principal bedroom.

During the past 30 years, the homeowners have replaced the cedar roof, repainted the house and replaced rotting fences. The fir floors on the main floor were replaced with old growth fir and the basement was finished. During the pandemic, the homeowners became empty nesters. The front bedroom that once overlooked a panoramic view of the river when it was located on Carnarvon Street became the Margaret Jane room, named for the first mistress of the house. Filled with family heirlooms, this guest room pays homage to their great grandmothers. The other bedroom was turned into a snug and the room across the hall became a study.

The future projects include restoring the butler’s pantry cabinets, repairing the rotting veranda and  restoring  the stained glass windows based on photographs and plans of the original windows generously provided by Jim Wolf.