About Matt & Jess
Matt and Jess Pope were married in 2009 and currently live in the Pacific Northwest with their baby daughter. Together they like to see the world, eat, and slightly overwhelm themselves restoring their old home.
Matt is a hobby woodworker, and some of his projects are featured under the “gallery” section of this website. Before his current career as general manager of a biotech startup he worked as a guide for a number of years taking tourists to far flung parts of the world. In the Pope family Matt is the general contractor and uptight carpenter.
Jessica is a nurse who has a passion for cooking and she also likes to dance and party. She has a fondness for the colour red and her favourite food is scallops. In the Pope family Jessica is the chief gardener and mess hall commander.
In 2013 they bought the home they are currently restoring, and use this blog to document the restoration.
Dining room fireplace
Front room fireplace
Master bedroom fireplace
by fireplace in front room
Solid brass Eastlake door knob
Original stained glass
Front door carving
Solid brass Eastlake door knob
Dining room wainscoting
Solid brass Eastlake door knob
Front room ceiling
From dining room side, before restoration
About the House
Our house was built sometime between 1900-1904 in the Tudor Revival style that was popular at the turn of the century. It sits on a 7,200 sq ft lot in a historic and central part of town. The house is framed with large old-growth Douglas Fir timbers: full-dimension 2″x12″ floor joists, 2″x10″ ceiling joists, 2″x8″ hip rafters, and 2″x6″ common rafters and exterior wall studs.
Currently it is a single level 1300 sq ft home with two bedrooms, one bathroom, one kitchen with pantry, a large living room, and a good sized front room with wainscoting throughout. Four of the rooms are solid wood from floor to ceiling; three of which have V-groove 3.5″ Fir T&G on all walls and ceilings that were covered up with multiple layers of wallpaper going back at least 50 years.
A significant number of features of the house are original: all exterior wood siding and trim, fir floors throughout that appear to never have been refinished, interior mouldings and trim, wainscoting, all windows/doors and associated brass hardware, a kitchen pass-through into the dining room, stained glass, the three fireplaces, and a Welsh Dragon carving on the front door. All rooms have 11 foot ceilings. The attic is undeveloped and with a 45° hipped roof there is significant potential for future development. Incredibly, the house has never undergone significant renovations in its 110 years.
Back in the late 19th century the land that the home sits on was close to an orchard that belonged to a famous castle which still sits less than 500 meters away. In the back yard there are two big apple trees which are likely older than the house. There is also a rare Evergreen Oak tree (aka Holly or Holm Oak) on the property which is one of the biggest in town.
While several of the most important aspects of the house have been well maintained over the years — the foundation, drainage, electrical, roof etc — the aesthetics of the interior have hardly been touched. There is a lot of work to be done, including significant upgrades to the bathroom, kitchen, and overall energy efficiency of the house. We will be completely gutting the crawl space and converting it to an insulated crawl space. We will be swapping the old oil furnace for a new high efficiency natural gas system. The original plaster walls are beyond repair and will come down and be replaced with drywall. We will remove the wall and ceiling coverings in the three rooms that are solid wood and restore them so that they can see the light of day again for perhaps the first time in 70 or more years. New insulation will go into the attic, exterior walls of the main floor, and exterior walls of the crawl space. Wherever possible we will be restoring the original features of the house, but we’ll do so often by incorporating modern conveniences in order to create as safe and clean an environment as possible.
History of the House
“When I was about ten years old, in the mid-1920s, my parents played an early recording of one Jesse Crawford, playing in hindsight ‘nothing respectable’ on a large Wurlitzer theatre organ in New York City. I remember thinking that it would be wonderful to be able to do that. It was maybe just a couple of years later, while staying with my sister in Victoria, that she took me to a Good Friday service at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian church, where Jesse Longfield (local cricket player and piano and reed organ tuner) accompanied a cantata. I was hooked.”
“We lived nine miles outside of Victoria; however, every other weekend I came to the city, travelling by ‘jitney’ for music lessons. I stayed with my sisters and would explore what was of greatest interest to me in the city: the churches and, most of all, the organs in them. And if some of them were being played, so much the better! At St. John the Divine, a rumbling from the blower room on Mason Street (little did I know that one day I would clean and maintain that blower!) signalled that someone was practising on the organ. I would slip into a back pew and listen to an oft-repeated snatch of Guilmant, frequently sounding from the Echo section housed high above the nave floor.”
“After one of my many back seat appearances, one of the very senior students invited me to come up to the organ console and watch. A major thrill. My first organ lessons, which began in my late teens, were with George Jennings Burnett at the Church of St. John the Divine. Somehow, I managed to afford the fifty cents per hour practice charge for use of the organ, and he prepared me for diploma exams with the Toronto Conservatory and for Associateship with the American Guild of Organists, the latter being completed in Portland, Oregon. Over the next few years followed a series of events that led to my becoming assistant and then successor to Jennings Burnett at St. John the Divine. I also began weekly trips to Vancouver to study with Frederick Chubb of Christ Church Cathedral, who later succeeded me at St. John’s … but I am ahead of my story.”
“As one of Victoria’s organists, I was given many opportunities for career advancement. I did not accept the position as organist for the local hockey arena (much to the dismay of the promoter) but did become studio organist for Radio Station CFCT, playing an old Robert Morton theatre organ (loaded with ‘toys’) located on the furniture floor of the Eaton’s store, and transmitted by wire across the street four times a week and on occasion down to the inner harbour. I played spirituals which worked rather well on the organ, popular songs and inconsequential rubbish! I was the original “SPLASH”!.”
“In 1942, after a performance of Gaul’s ‘The Holy City’ in memorial to G. Jennings Burnett and a year of conducting the Victoria Choral Union which ended with the annual performance of Handel’s Messiah at Christ Church Cathedral, I moved to St. Andrew’s College in Aurora, Ontario as Music Master. While in Aurora, I travelled to Toronto to further study the organ with Dr. Charles Peaker at St. Paul’s, Bloor Street. As he was Principal of the Conservatory, I cherished his coaching of my performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor. Being desirous of a church position and home, I became organist of St. Stephen’s College Street in Toronto. St. Stephen’s was the home of Evensong broadcasts on radio CFRB, for which I was responsible. It was not anything like playing for CFCT in Victoria!”
“However, due to the failing health of my parents in Victoria, I returned West, becoming Music and House Master at Shawnigan Lake Boys School, where I remained for 19 years. Summers were often spent rebuilding and tuning the organ at the school and, with great friend Christopher Ross, tuning the organ at the Butchart Gardens. During this time I was appointed interim organist at Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria. In order to practice as much as possible, I purchased a Hill, Norman and Beard 3-manual console which I somehow managed to squeeze into the pantry of the kitchen in my house. It was mute, mind you, not connected to anything. Well do I remember my elderly and deaf neighbour tapping on the window and commenting on how much she enjoyed my playing!”. -Ian Galliford, 2011.