Mamma Mia, Casa Mia - Vancouver 2014 Heritage House Tour

It was extremely exciting by all 1300 people who attended Vancouver's 2014 Heritage House Tour at the beginning of the month when they finally learned the identity of the final surprise house.

Yes, the Vancouver Heritage Foundation managed to open the doors to the Vancouver heritage sensation - Casa Mia.

Regularly featured in the media for decades, both for its lavish spaces and frequent ownership changes, walking through it offered an unparalleled experience for those with a love for architecture and design.



This majestic residence spans over 20,728 square feet on an 1.5 acre estate. It was constructed in 1932 for George Reifel, a liquor magnate and rum runner during Prohibition.

Needless to say, no expense was spared. Other than the overwhelming size, the shining point of this wonder is the incredible attention paid to every detail.

The architect, Ross Anthony Lort, certainly captured the essence and richness of Spanish Colonial Revival. Each room glistens with detailed craftsmanship in tile, wood and glass.

The combination of the openness and white interior in the living room and master bedroom are absolutely awe-inspiring. There are no words or images that can describe the interplay of light over the ornate surfaces.

It's simply amazing.


Photo Courtesy of Dan Toulgoet


Reifel also built Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom. Casa Mia also features a ballroom with a famous spring dancing floor.

As if the gold leaf cover was not enough impressive, Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong have also played here on multiple occasions.

The surrounding rooms further carry the aura of the 30s, including the built-in bar and poolroom.


Unless specified, all images couresy of Kim Stallknecht

Do you need more reasons to be amazed?

Check out the murals in the kid’s bedrooms, which were painted by a Disney Cartoonist who was flown in specifically for the job.




One of my favorites details is the swan faucet in the washroom, shown above.

How fortunate for the opportunity to view this work of art and enjoy its preservation capturing a specific moment in history.

Thank goodness we have the commitment of Vancouver Heritage Foundation!


Researched and Written by Angelina Sangulin, Undergraduate Art History, Human Geography and Urban Studies, University of British Columbia

Posted In: British Columbia

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