Vernon’s East Hill is renowned for its collection of heritage houses, and there’s no better place to experience this than a specific stretch along Pleasant Valley Road. Starting at the roundabout at 35th Avenue, a short walk south reveals four significant houses all built in the 1890s, each with a unique story.

First up at 3401 Pleasant Valley Road is a house built by Samuel Sommerville in 1895. Sommerville, known for his roles as an alderman, city tax collector, and later a dairy farmer, envisioned this Late Victorian Vernacular Revival style residence. Today, it is renowned for its association with the Caetani Family and serves as the site of the Caetani Cultural Centre. Guests visiting the Centre can appreciate the ornate and detailed architecture of the building.

Next, at 3303 Pleasant Valley Road, stands a house built in 1894. Although it was removed from Vernon’s Heritage Register in 2014, its history remains rich. C. F. Costerton, a financial agent who later became Vernon’s mayor in 1921, moved to the property in 1900. The house, known as the “Costerton House,” has seen several modifications over the years, including the addition of modern plumbing.

Clockwise, from top left. The Sommerville (Caetani) House at 3401 Pleasant Valley Road in 1985; The Costerton House at 3303 Pleasant Valley Road in 1987; The Megaw House at 3203 Pleasant Valley Road in 1992; and the McNair House at 3201 Pleasant Valley Road in the 1980s. GVMA 12850, 16335, 31449 and 5114.

Continuing down the road, 3203 Pleasant Valley Road, built in 1893, is the oldest house in this lineup. This property, showcasing a Free Classic version of the Queen Anne architectural style, was constructed by W. R. Megaw, Vernon’s mayor in 1899 and a successful local merchant. Though converted into apartments in the 1960s, the house still retains much of its original interior decoration.

Finally, 3201 Pleasant Valley Road, built in 1894 for Vancouver lumberman David McNair, is another example of Free Classic Queen Anne architecture. Later owned by local lawyers W. M. Cochrane and Frederic Billings, it served as the Lodged Inn International Hostel in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Today, the growth of trees and shrubbery makes some of these houses easy to overlook. However, in the 1890s, East Hill was the preferred subdivision for the city’s emerging merchant and professional class, and one can imagine these four prominent Vernon individuals living as neighbours in their respective mansions. 

Gwyneth Evans, Archives Manager