Description of Historic Place
The Brown & Cooper / F. Moore Buildings consist of two adjacent structures that were designed, along with the adjacent Rogers’ Chocolates to the north, to appear as one integral unit. These two structures are two storeys in height, with masonry construction and sheet metal detailing. The Brown & Cooper Building at 909 Government Street is a duplicate of Rogers’ Chocolates at 913, and features a second-floor oriel window flanked by Ionic columns. The F. Moore Building at 911 Government Street forms the centre of the composition, and steps slightly forward of the two flanking buildings.
Constructed at the beginning of the pre-World War One real estate boom, the Brown & Cooper / F. Moore Buildings are valued as a reflection of the surge of development that characterized Victoria’s gateway economy. The site is located north of James Bay, which originally extended farther east and was crossed by a bridge. A tidal mudflat used as a refuse dump, the eastern end of James Bay was one of the greatest detriments to Victoria’s self-promotion. By 1900, plans were underway to replace the bridge with a causeway, and construction began the next year on a granite retaining wall that would hold back the sea and allow the mudflats to be filled. In 1903, the City reached a deal with the Canadian Pacific Railway to convey title to two hectares of the former mud flats, along with other concessions, in exchange for the promise to build a grand new hotel on the Inner Harbour, the Empress Hotel. This development strategy encouraged confidence in the lower downtown area, with the result of increasing demand for retail space and renewed construction activity along Government Street.
These two buildings, along with the adjacent building to the north, were designed to appear as one structure, but they were actually three separate buildings for three separate owners. The central section, at 911 Government Street, was built for F. Moore of the Victoria Chemical Company. The southernmost portion, at 909 Government Street, was built for Brown & Cooper, fishmongers and fruiterers. The northern section, 913 Government Street, was constructed for candy manufacturer Charles W. Rogers, and is still the home of Rogers’ Chocolates. Moore, Brown & Cooper and Rogers capitalized on economic opportunities by developing these buildings – which were situated close to the Inner Harbour, the Post Office and the proposed grand hotel – at the same time. The construction of these adjacent complementary stores in 1903-04, which together are much grander in appearance than as individual small buildings, indicates a high degree of cooperation in upgrading this portion of Government Street.
The Brown & Cooper / F. Moore Buildings are additionally significant as an example of the transition in architectural expression from the Late Victorian to the Edwardian era, at a time when styles, as well as building technologies, were changing rapidly. The emergence of the newly popular Classical Revival style is evident in this eclectic design, which shows a free adaptation of Classical motifs, called at the time 'Free Classic', and influenced by the Queen Anne Revival style popular at the end of the nineteenth century. It is an example of the work of prominent British Columbia architects Hooper & Watkins, the partnership of Thomas Hooper (1857-1935) and C. Elwood Watkins (1875-1942); their many commercial projects helped define the evolving character of Victoria’s downtown.
Source: City of Victoria Planning Department
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Brown & Cooper / F. Moore Buildings include their:
- location on the east side of Government Street, in Victoria’s historic Old Town
- adjacent relationship with Rogers’ Chocolate National Historic Site at 913 Government Street
- continuous commercial use, with retail space at the ground floor level and offices above
- commercial form, scale and massing, part of a contiguous, symmetrical three-part design as expressed in their: two-storey height; F. Moore Building projecting forward with higher parapet; and upper-floor projecting oriel window of the Brown & Cooper Building clad with sheet metal
- eclectic elements of Edwardian-era classical design including: engaged Ionic pilasters; running bands of floral motifs; and pressed sheet metal cornices with brackets and dentils above the storefronts and at the parapets
- additional exterior features such as the '1903' date in the oriel window and the ghosting of 'Brown & Cooper' letters in the cornice
- masonry construction, including pressed red-brick façades, sandstone lintels and sills, sandstone trim and common red-brick side walls
- windows, including original wooden transom bars and wooden brick mould