Oak Bay Theatre
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Castle Block is a two storey with crawlspace, Tudor Revival landmark that extends 35 metres along the north side of Oak Bay Avenue in the heart of the commercial corridor. With a commercial lower floor, the facade is side-gabled with both twin and single gabled projections. Parking for the building is at the rear, from what is known as "Theatre Lane."
The Castle Block is valued for its architecture, for its association with architect Eric Charlesworth Clarkson, for its cultural associations, and as a component of the historic Oak Bay Avenue.
This large, Tudor Revival building has dominated Oak Bay Village since its construction in 1936, and has lent much credence to the "English" atmosphere of Oak Bay. Though the shop fronts have been altered, most of the exterior details are intact. The building was constructed using many local products - the "Duroid" roofing and "Fibre-Rock" insulating board were made by the Sidney Roofing and Paper Co. Ltd. of Victoria.
The Castle Block was designed by Eric Charlesworth Clarkson (1895-1977), an architect who had a varied and prolific career in England, India and California before moving to Victoria where he received commissions for Mount View High School in Saanich (1931), the Atlas Theatre (1936) and Red Cross House (1945-46). Between 1932 and 1938 Clarkson also designed a number of residences in Victoria and Oak Bay that were built by contractor Robert Noble, the contractor for the Castle Block.
Commissioned by R. F. Castle, this structure originally housed the Oak Bay Theatre, a coffee shop and a dance hall on the second floor, an area once famed for having no obstructing columns. The lower level has operated continuously as commercial space since 1936. The change in function, with the closure of the theatre, is indicative of the changing demographics and tastes of the local residents, but the building continues to have strong cultural associations and remains part of collective community memory.
The Castle Block is valued as an important component of the historic context of Oak Bay Avenue, which is enhanced by the Bell Block and the old Oak Bay Grocery building. All three buildings serve as anchors for the commercial core of Oak Bay.
Source: Corporation of the District of Oak Bay
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Castle Block include its:
- setting within a context of other heritage commercial properties;
- location along Oak Bay Avenue, a commercial corridor;
- simple form, two-storey scale and rectangular massing, built to the property line at the front and sides;
- combination roof with side gables and front gabled extensions on the front facade, false Mansard roof with flat top at the rear;
- concrete foundation, wood frame construction, parged stucco with wood trim;
- style details such as half timbering on the second storey, heavy wood brackets, parallel front gables on the entrance to the theatre, mini jettys, brackets, exposed rafter ends, barge boards;
- exterior architectural elements: Oak Bay Theatre neon sign, two internal brick chimneys, flag brackets;
- regular fenestration: multi-paned casement windows, some cross leaded in front facade, some multiple assembly;
- interior features: original wooden dance floor built using the English construction method (tongue in groove; nailed parallel on the joist) in most of the lobby;
- use of local products in its construction
- ongoing commercial use of the ground floor storefronts
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.954
Community Heritage Register
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Shop or Wholesale Establishment
- Civic Space
- Auditorium, Cinema or Nightclub
Architect / Designer
Eric Charleworth Clarkson
Location of Supporting Documentation
Corporation of the District of Oak Bay
Cross-Reference to Collection