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

Broad support for shuttle bus service in North Delta neighbourhood

71 per cent of survey respondents were in favour of having a community shuttle in Sunshine Hills

Seventh lane now open on Alex Fraser Bridge

Four lanes heading southbound, three heading northbound for now

Developer looks to build 25-storey office tower by Surrey mall

Proposed for site of former Best Buy store

5,000 ducks race at Surrey beach

‘Ducktona’ event raises funds for Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue Station 5

Infant’s sudden death at Surrey complex for vulnerable women prompts police probe

Officials say child was two years or younger; won’t comment on cause of death until investigation complete

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

Vancouver’s Tristan Connelly shocks the UFC world

Late replacement upsets big favourite Pereira, main event sees Gaethje stop Cerrone in round one

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Coming Home: B.C. fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

Newcomer Ferland lines up with sniper Pettersson as Vancouver Canucks camp opens

Ferland provides more depth and a scoring threat up front, Pettersson says

Intelligence official charged seemed to be ‘exemplar of discretion’: UBC professor

Professor Paul Evans says he served on Cameron Ortis’s doctoral dissertation committee

B.C. company gets licence to test psychedelic drugs for therapy treatment

Salvation Botanicals interested in manufacturing, testing and research and development

B.C. police watchdog to investigate man’s head injury during RCMP arrest

Suspect fled on a bicycle and fell off when an officer attempted to stop him

‘A real shame’: B.C. MLA says factors behind Tolko mill closing should have been caught

Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson said the industry is in bad shape across the province

Most Read