Old English design elements can be seen in the sign of the Summerland Farm and Garden Centre in 1993. The guidelines are no longer in place, but some downtown businesses still show aspects of the days when Summerland had a theme in place. This photo was taken by Summerland photographer Dan Dorotich. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum)

Summerland’s Old English theme has been abandoned

From the 1980s until the early 2000s, Summerland had design guidelines in its downtown

Summerland’s downtown businesses once featured an Old English theme, with lettering and design elements to meet community-style guidelines.

The guidelines were put in place in the 1980s as a result of the efforts of Jerry Hallquist, Art Sewell and others to bring about a theme to the downtown area. In addition to lettering and exterior design elements, the guidelines specified the colours which could be used on buildings in the downtown area.

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The look of the theme was most noticeable on the former Bank of Montreal building, now Yaki’s Pizza, on Main Street. That building was constructed in 1917. It was designed by Samuel McClure, one of the province’s leading architects of the time and is a revival of the Victorian era design.

David Gregory, a former Summerland mayor and councillor and a proponent of the theme, said McClure was British Columbia’s second most important architect. Only Vancouver, Victoria and Summerland have two or more of his buildings.

Proponents of the Old English theme said the guidelines would create a unique look to the community. However, critics of the theme said the guidelines were too restrictive.

Others complained that the Old English lettering on signs was difficult to read.

Over the years, community response to the design guidelines was mixed and around 2009, Summerland’s municipal council revisited the guidelines in an attempt to make them less restrictive.

Today, Summerland no longer has guidelines in place in its downtown area, although elements of the theme can still be seen in the facades and half-timbers on some of the business buildings in Summerland’s downtown.

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Giant’s Head Realty and the Summerland Potters Guild now occupy the building which was once Summerland Farm and Garden Centre. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

Santorini’s Restaurant and B.P. Glass were among the businesses on Henry Avenue in Summerland in 1993. This photo was taken by Summerland photographer Dan Dorotich. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum.)

Second Home Cafe is in the space once occupied by Santorini's Restaurant. To the right is Hair It is. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)