Designed by Sir Francis Rattenbury, Vancouver’s Roedde House Museum is a historic attraction that’s open to the public for guided tours and special events.
This article includes information about the following topics:
COVID-19 | Roedde House Video | What is Roedde House? | Where is it? | Admission Rates | Hours of Operation | What to Expect | Events | Sunday Tea | Jazz Concerts | Speaker Series Events | Tips & Advice | Other Information
Historic Roedde House
Built in 1893, Roedde House was the home of a middle-class immigrant family from Germany. Gustav Roedde moved to the Lower Mainland in 1888, shortly after Vancouver’s great fire, and he became the city’s first bookbinder. Today the home is a beautifully-restored heritage building full of artifacts and history.
Topics included in this article are listed below. Click any of the following links to jump to a particular subject, or either continue reading or visit the Museum’s Official Website to learn all about Roedde House.
Roedde House & COVID-19
After being closed for a number of weeks in the spring of 2020 due to COVID-19, the museum operations and visitors can once again explore its various displays and rooms.
Visiting the museum, however, is still different from usual. As of early 2022, there is a maximum of ten people are allowed inside per time slot. The museum is also only open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays from 1 until 4 pm.
Visitors to the museum must wear face masks. Unlike how things have been done in the past, there is no live interpreter guiding people through the museum. Instead, tours are currently self-guided in a one-way direction, with the option of an audio recording via one’s phone or a museum tablet.
For more information about the status of the museum see the Roedde House website.
Roedde House Video
To give you an idea of what to expect from a visit to the museum, check out the following video. As you’ll see, it’s a beautiful building that’s full of artifacts, antiques, history, stories and information. The video will also give you an idea of what you’ll experience during a guided tour. On a real tour, however, you’ll get so much more information, plus you’ll be able to ask questions.
If you like museums and history, you’ll love this place!
(Note: The museum in the past has offered lots of hands-on experience opportunities. Today, however, in the new world of COVID-19, that is no longer possible. Also, until the health situation improves, in-person guided tours are offered by appointment only.)
What is Roedde House?
Built in 1893, just seven years after Vancouver was officially founded, Roedde House is an exceptional example of a late Victorian-era middle-class home built in the Queen Anne revival style.
Beautifully restored in 1990, today the building is a heritage site run by the Roedde House Preservation Society and its over 50 volunteers.
Of considerable significance, the house was designed by Sir Francis Rattenbury who was the architect behind some of British Columbia’s most famous late 19th and early 20th century buildings. Vancouver’s former court house, for example, which today is the Vancouver Art Gallery, was one of his projects between 1905 and 1913.
Other structures by Rattenbury include the BC Legislature and Empress Hotel in Victoria. Roedde House was one of the famous architect’s earlier Canadian projects – done just a couple of years after he immigrated to BC – and one of the few residential homes he designed before his career took off.
Where is Roedde House?
Roedde House is located at 1415 Barclay Street which is between Broughton Street and Nicola about four blocks south of Robson Street in Vancouver’s West End. Beside the museum is a small park called Barclay Heritage Square.
Parking and Transportation
Parking in the immediate area is limited, although there are four marked parking spots for visitors directly behind the house.
Most of the nearby street parking is for residents only, although there are a few spots, including on Nicola Street. If you can’t find a place for your car close by, head to Robson Street where there is plenty of metered pay parking.
The closest SkyTrain is at Burrard Station which is about a 20-minute walk away. From the station, walk southwest along Burrard Street, turn right onto Robson, then left on Broughton and then right onto Barclay. It’s a nice walk and you’ll pass lots of fashionable retailers and restaurants along the way.
If you prefer a quiet residential street to stroll along, instead of turning onto Robson, keep going another three or so blocks and then turn right directly onto Barclay.
If bussing, it’s Bus #5 that runs along Robson Street.
General admission to Roedde House costs about $10 which includes a guided tour of the home. Youth ages 6 to 18 cost $5 and children ages five and under are free.
In addition to the tours, the museum hosts monthly concerts in the parlour (at least it did pre-pandemic). As of the summer of 2019, they cost $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors.
In June, July and August, Roedde House usually offers a once-a-month “Summer Jazz on the Porch” event which takes place outside in Barclay Heritage Square. Admission for that is by donation.
See further below for additional information about the events.
Hours of Operation
The museum is usually open to the public for guided tours five or six days a week throughout the year. 2022 details are different, however, because of COVID-19.
From the beginning of June until the end of August, the place is normally open from Tuesday to Sunday (and closed on Mondays). During the summer season it is also open on statutory holidays (e.g., Canada Day and BC Day).
In the slower season, from September until May, Roedde House is typically open five days a week. During the fall, winter and spring, it’s usually closed on Mondays, Saturdays and most national holidays.
Hours of operation are usually 11:00 am until 4:00 pm on weekdays and Saturdays (in the summer), and from 1:00 until 4:00 pm on Sundays. As mentioned above, however, those pre-pandemic hours have been changed to open just four days a week from 1:00 to 4:00 pm as of early 2022.
See the Roedde House Museum website for current hours of operation and other details.
What to Expect on a Tour
When you visit Roedde House for a tour you can expect to be welcomed by a guide who will show you around the home (or at least that’s the case where there isn’t a pandemic).
The building itself is charming on the outside and beautiful on the inside. The home has fine wood floors, the parlour has a late 19th century Steinway piano, and upstairs there is a revolving exhibition that changes two or three times a year. On your tour you’ll see the kitchen, dining room, bedrooms and pretty much every part of the house.
In the various rooms you’ll see fine China, clothing, turn-of-the-century furniture, photos of the Roedde family and other interesting antiques and artifacts.
Gustav and Matilda Roedde lived in the home with their family from 1893 until 1925. Years later the building became a rooming house, and then over time it fell into disrepair.
The City of Vancouver purchased the property in 1970, along with other neighbouring homes, with the intention of tearing it down and building a park. Fortunately, the building was saved, it has been a museum since 1990 and there is a small park next door.
During your tour of the museum you’ll learn all about the Roedde family, the history of the home and the building’s architectural features.
Things You Can Touch
Unlike most historical sites of its type, visitors to Roedde House are usually welcome to touch items on display and sit on the furniture. It’s a wonderfully hands-on museum. That being said, because of COVID-19, hands-on elements have been removed for the time being.
When touching is allowed, you are asked not to touch clothing that’s on display, as it is especially delicate. There is also the occasional sign asking you not to touch specific things or, in one of the bedrooms, not to sit on a particular bed. In most cases, however, you are welcome to pick things up, look at them and enjoy the experience with more than just your eyes. If in doubt, ask your tour guide.
The hands-on element at the Roedde House Museum really makes the place special. Just be sure to handle items carefully (and keep a close eye on your children)!
Learning about the House
The guided tours at Roedde House are exceptional and highly recommended. In addition to the live commentary by your informative guide, there is also written material posted in some of the rooms, plus both written and mobile-device materials for folk wanting to do a self-guided tour in Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean or Spanish.
Roedde House Events
Special events at Roedde House include the museum’s Sunday Tea and Tours, Jazz Concert Series performances, Classical Concert Series events and the occasional play.
Sunday Tea and Tours
A great time to visit the museum is on Sundays between 1:00 and 4:00 pm. Reservations are not required, but you do need to arrive by at least 3:15.
On Sundays you not only get a tour of the house, but you also get a cup of tea. The regular admission rate applies, but the cup of tea is free.
(Note: Because of COVID-19, the Sunday Tea activity is currently suspended as of early 2022.)
Jazz Concert Series
Roedde House hosts a series of once-a-month live Jazz performances which they call Jazz Evenings in the Parlour. During the non-summer months they take place indoors in the home’s parlour and cost $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. Up to between 35 and 40 people can attend each night.
In June, July and August, instead of indoor ticketed Jazz events, Roedde House hosts its annual Summer Jazz on the Porch performances. They are “pay what you can” (i.e., by donation) and take place in Barclay Heritage Square just outside the museum.
The Jazz Concert Series events happen from 7:00 until 9:00 pm on the second Thursday of the month (although very occasionally on a different date instead). Also, because of COVID-19, the events may or may not currently be taking place.
In addition to monthly Jazz concerts, Roedde House also used to host classical music performances. Up until 2019, Classical Concert Series events were held once a month on a Sunday and cost between $12 and $15 per person. They have been much more irregular since then.
Roedde House Speaker Series
The Speaker Series involves a guest speaker on the last Wednesday of some (but not all) months at 7:00 pm.
At these 1-hour events an expert in the field of heritage preservation, Victorian literature, Vancouver history or some other interesting topic gives a lecture. Often the speaker is a university professor or PhD candidate. Admission is $10 for adults and $7 for students and seniors.
Tips and Advice
Below are some suggestions and bits of useful information to help you make the most out of your visit to Roedde House.
TIP #1: Expect to stay for at least 45 minutes on a regular day. The guided tour itself lasts for approximately half an hour depending on the guide and inquisitiveness of the visitors.
TIP #2: Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. As a result, if attending a concert, arrive early to get a good spot.
TIP #3: Sundays when they have a concert can be really good days to go. Provided that you go an hour or so early, you can get a tour, plus tea, plus the concert (although not in years when COVID remains a problem).
TIP #4: The Roedde House Museum is owned by the City of Vancouver and run by the Roedde House Preservation Society which is a charitable organization. Donations are greatly appreciated and tax receipts are issued for amounts of $25 and above.
TIP #5: Consider combining your visit to the museum with dinner at a restaurant or shopping on Robson Street (which is one of Vancouver’s trendiest and most fashionable shopping districts).
TIP #6: If you’re on a tight budget, it’s good to know that admission to the museum is usually by donation on the last Friday of the month. (Note: This wasn’t the case, however, for most of 2020 and all of 2021 because of COVID-19).
TIP #7: In case you were interested, the museum is available to rent for weddings and other private events. The venue can accommodate groups of up to around 50 people.
TIP #8: The ground floor of the museum is accessible by wheelchair, but not the upstairs. It’s an older home and there isn’t an elevator.
TIP #9: Roedde is pronounced “Road-y”.
For more information about the museum visit the Roedde House website.
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