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Lewis & Humphreys Block

566-570 Yates Street, Victoria, British Columbia, V8W, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1990/07/26

Lewis & Humphreys Block; City of Victoria, 2008
Front elevation, 2008
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Other Name(s)

Lewis & Humphreys Block
Kings Hotel
Lewis Block
Humphreys Block

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/12/16

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Lewis & Humphreys Block consists of two adjacent, but originally separate, masonry commercial buildings with identical façade detailing. Three storeys in height, with regular fenestration and a prominent raised cornice, the now joined structures are located on lower Yates Street in Victoria's Old Town.

Heritage Value

Built in 1891, the Lewis & Humphreys Block is a significant part of a grouping of late-nineteenth century structures in Victoria's Old Town. The completion of the Esquimalt & Nanaimo Railway in 1888 sparked a construction boom of stores and hotels around its terminus at the west foot of Pandora Avenue. This was regarded as an extension of the transcontinental railway, which had arrived in Vancouver in 1887 and sparked massive building and immigration booms. As an established town, Victoria benefited from this speculative development, illustrated by the concentration of elaborate commercial buildings and hotels along lower Yates and Johnson Streets at the time, resulting in consistent streetscapes that have retained much of their historic character. The eastern building, the Humphreys Block, was built in 1891 for Caroline Humphreys. Almost simultaneously Lewis Lewis commissioned the western building, the Lewis Block. The ground floors accommodated commercial space and the upper floors were used for hotel purposes.

The site is additionally significant for its associations with those who built the two separate structures. Caroline Humphreys was the widow of the Hon. Thomas Basil Humphreys (1840-1890), a businessman and one of the province’s earliest professional politicians. After her husband's death, Mrs. Humphreys commissioned this commercial building on a property she had inherited in 1883. Lewis Lewis (1828-1904) was a pioneer of Victoria and British Columbia. His dry goods business was established in 1861, and prospered until his retirement in 1900. Lewis was one of the most prominent citizens in Victoria, affiliated with many local organizations, and was a member of the city's first volunteer fire brigade. He was also prominent in Victoria's Jewish community. Among the first major wave of settlement in Victoria in 1858, there were approximately 100 Jews, mostly from California, where a sizable Jewish community had formed during the gold rush years. Well-educated and ambitious, this small group soon established themselves as traders, merchants and wholesalers. Lewis was president of the Congregation Emanu-el for eight years, and donated the land for the establishment of the Jewish Cemetery in 1860. He was also a founder of the Masonic Lodge in Victoria, and in July 1904 he was buried with full Masonic ritual in the cemetery that he helped to found.

The Lewis & Humphreys Block has further value as one of the few surviving designs by the partnership of architects Hooper & Goddard. Samuel May Goddard (1843-1906) was born and trained in England. Following the westward momentum of settlement, he moved to Victoria in 1890 and immediately formed a short-lived partnership with Thomas Hooper (1857-1935), who had recently opened an office to handle the commission for the Metropolitan Methodist Church on Quadra Street, while maintaining his practice in Vancouver. In 1891, the partnership of Hooper & Goddard was dissolved. Goddard's career languished, and he relocated to Los Angeles in 1904. Hooper became one of the province’s most successful and prolific architects, and designed many of the commercial buildings throughout the Old Town area.

Source: City of Victoria Planning Department

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Lewis & Humphreys Block include its:
- location on lower Yates Street, part of a collection of late Victorian-era masonry structures
- continuous commercial use
- siting on the property lines, with no setbacks
- commercial form, scale and massing, as expressed by the three-storey height, rectangular form and flat roof, set flush to the front property line with other contemporaneous buildings, with a contiguous rear courtyard space
- vernacular Romanesque Revival influence as expressed by third floor brick arcading, elaborate cornice detailing with central name plaques, and rough-dressed granite lintels
- construction materials, such as structural brick walls, rusticated stone detailing and heavy-timber interior structure
- additional exterior details include prefabricated sheet metal storefront cornices and brackets, sidewall chimneys and central raised name plaques
- original double-hung one-over-one window sash



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (BC)

Recognition Statute

Local Government Act, s.967

Recognition Type

Heritage Designation

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type



Commerce / Commercial Services
Hotel, Motel or Inn
Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment

Architect / Designer

Samuel May Goddard



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Victoria Planning Department

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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