The Coghlan Substation is 108 years old and once provided power to electric trains that took people and farm produce up and down the Fraser Valley. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

Historic B.C. building gets facelift with help from Sabrina series

Langley’s 108-year-old Coghlan Substation is seeing use in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

A bit of Hollywood magic helped restore part of one of Langley’s most iconic but least-known historic buildings.

Langley viewers watching Chilling Adventures of Sabrina may not realize that the Academy of Unseen Arts is just down the road.

The new Netflix drama, based on the Archie Comics character Sabrina the Teenage Witch, sees Sabrina switch from her normal, human high school to an institution that teaches conjuring and the dark arts.

The exterior shots of the Academy of Unseen Arts were provided by the Coghlan Substation, a power station on the B.C. Electric Rail (BCER) line that ran through the Lower Mainland.

Owner Bryant Ross was pleased that the producers provided resources to help clear away an old shed that had covered up part of the building’s facade for more than half a century.

“I’ve been here 30 years now, and it’s the first time I’ve seen the whole front,” said Ross.

Built in 1910, Coghlan was one of a series of five substations that provided electricity to the trains that traveled between New Westminster and Chilliwack, as well as to surrounding farmers.

• READ MORE: New signs for century-old substation

Since 1987, the building has been owned by Ross, who uses it as an art studio. Over the years it has been used by many well-known artists, including painters Norval Morrisseau, Issac Bignel, and Gerry Meeches, and Northwest Coast carvers Gene Brabant and the Hunt Family.

After the BCER shut down in the 1950s, a glass-making company bought the building. The new owners tore the front steps off the power station and built a wooden shed-like structure along the whole lower front of the building, covering up the former front door and several windows.

“The hard part was getting rid of that shed,” said Ross. He tore down part of it, but earlier this year, the producers of Sabrina came calling.

They cleared away much of the rest of the structure.

While they didn’t replace the front steps with permanent stairs, there’s now a plywood staircase treated to look like stone or cement. It gives visitors a good idea what the building looked like in its heyday.

Eventually, Ross would like to fully restore the front of the building.

“There’s still lots to do,” he said.

Windows need caulking, and the aging pitch-and-gravel roof is in need of replacing.

“Hopefully, there’ll be more movies, because that’s what I use to pay for it,” he said.

Multiple film and TV productions have used the structure over the past decade, ranging from Hallmark movies of the week to the CW series Supernatural.

“They ended up blowing it up in Supernatureal, with CGI,” Ross noted.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina has continued to film there several times, as recently as early November, Ross said.

Located in the 6800 block of 256th Street, the building attracts a lot of attention from rural drivers and cyclists who find it suddenly appearing out of the trees next to the railway tracks.

Coghlan Station, and the surrounding Coghlan area, was named after BCER employees and Langley pioneers Henry and Nathaniel Coghlan, two brothers who cut more than 20,000 railway ties for the rail company during the line’s construction through the Fraser Valley.

The only other remaining substation from the BCER line stands in Sumas, where it has been converted into a private home.

The area around the building was also the scene of a grisly murder shortly after its construction.

Two Italian labourers working nearby got into a dispute. It ended when one man killed the other, cut off his head, and threw it down the power station’s well.

_________________________________

Is there more to this story?

mclaxton@langleyadvance.com

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

_________________________________

 

(Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

Actress Kiernan Shipka, who plays Sabrina, approached the “Academy for Unseen Arts” in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. (Warner Bros. Television/Netflix)

Just Posted

Lost a ring? This White Rock man will find it for you

Chris Turner founded The Ring Finders, an international directory of metal detector hobbyists

PHOTOS: Family Day celebrated at Historic Stewart Farm

Youngsters participate in some old fashioned fun

Clayton’s little neighbourhood libraries are open for business

’Take a book, leave a book’ initiative aims to bring Clayton residents closer together

Trudeau’s principal secretary, Gerald Butts, resigns amid SNC-Lavalin furor

Butts categorically denies the accusation that he or anyone else in the PMO improperly pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould

VIDEO: Winterhawks end Giants winning streak at seven

Playing on home ice, Vancouver’s G-Men fell 5-3 during a Family Day game against Portland.

Aaron Pritchett and George Canyon to headline Gone Country concert in Cloverdale this summer

‘Early bird tickets on sale via Twins Cancer Fundraising website

Poverty coalition has high hopes for B.C. poverty reduction strategy

Funding allocation expected to be released with 2019 budget

‘How did we get here?’: B.C. mom of transplant recipient worries about measles outbreaks

Addison, 7, cannot get a live vaccine because she has a heart transplant

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh calls for public inquiry over SNC-Lavalin questions

Vancouver member of Parliament Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned from cabinet last week

Canadian airlines waiting for guidance from Ottawa over X gender option

Major U.S. airlines said they will change their process so passengers can identify themselves along non-binary lines

UPDATE: Plane flips over at Pitt Meadows airport

The pilot and lone occupant exited the aircraft on his own and uninjured.

Moose Hide campaign takes message to Canadian schools

Campaign launches new K-12 education platform

Most Read

l -->