805 Gordon Street, Victoria, British Columbia, V8W, Canada
The Union Club of British Columbia
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Union Club is a four-storey brick and terra cotta building on a sloping lot on the corner of Gordon and Humboldt Streets in downtown Victoria.
The Union Club is valued as a monument to Edwardian high society. Originally intended for the men of Victoria's wealthy elite, it is significant that this has continued to be the home of the Union Club, one of the oldest and most exclusive private clubs in western Canada, since 1912. With many of Victoria's and British Columbia's most prominent and influential citizens as club members, this building has a notable association with political, economic, and social power throughout the province.
Designed by San Francisco architect Loring P. Rexford, this building is representative of the fashionable gentlemen's club image which was the basis for the Union Club's foundation in 1879. Notably, the program for this building was drawn up with the help of prominent Victoria architect Francis Mawson Rattenbury, who had undertaken a survey of club houses and interiors during his travels. The academically correct Italian Renaissance Revival Style, and elevated situation on the sloping lot, are well suited to the club's elite image.
The Club's juxtaposition with the Empress Hotel and the Belmont Building is significant, as together these structures create a quadrant which is unmistakable in its English pride and sophistication, well suited to the period of economic prosperity prior to the First World War. These buildings form a backdrop of historic places in the northeast corner of the Inner Harbour, and mark the entrance to Victoria's Old Town District.
Source: City of Victoria Planning and Development Department
The character-defining elements of the Union Club include:
- the relationship between this building and the nearby Empress Hotel and the Belmont Building;
- the Italian Renaissance Revival Style elements, such as the terra cotta ground floor, the portico, the combined use of arched and rectangular windows, the front entrance balcony, the deep rich tone of the brick, the decorative horizontal bands and cornice, and the curved bay on the south side, and all terra cotta elements;
- the unobstructed views of the building from the Inner Harbour area;
- the image of historic power and wealth manifested in its solid massing, rich detailing, and elevated situation on its sloping lot;
- intact historic interior elements such as spatial configurations, woodwork, and surface finishes relating to the authentic design of the building.
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.954
Community Heritage Register
Theme - Category and Type
- Building Social and Community Life
- Social Movements
Function - Category and Type
- Social, Benevolent or Fraternal Club
Architect / Designer
Loring P. Rexford
Sound Engineering and Construction Company
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Victoria Planning and Development Department
Cross-Reference to Collection