Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Brown & Cooper Building is a two-storey commercial building located mid-block on Gordon Street, one block from the Empress Hotel and Inner Harbour, in Victoria’s historic Old Town. It features white-glazed brick cladding, sheet-metal cornices, an inset second-storey bay window and a shaped parapet.
Constructed during the height of the pre-World War One real estate boom, the Brown & Cooper Building is valued as a reflection of the surge of development that characterized Victoria’s gateway economy. Built in 1910, it has been used continuously for commercial purposes. This was a prime location adjacent to nearby hotels and other businesses. The Canadian Pacific Railway’s Empress Hotel, completed in 1908 just one block from the Brown & Cooper Building, was a significant boost to Victoria’s development as a global tourism destination, and stimulated the construction of many other buildings in the lower Old Town area. Brown & Cooper supplied fish, fruit, game and confections; this commercial structure was built as an extension to the rear of the store at 909 Government Street that they opened in 1904, demonstrating the success of their business at the time.
Additionally, the Brown & Cooper building is significant as a surviving design by the prolific Victoria-born architect C. Elwood Watkins (1875-1942). Watkins began his architectural apprenticeship in 1890 in the office of Thomas Hooper, and by 1902 had become a full partner. He opened his own office in 1909, and in addition to his many commercial, institutional and residential projects, Watkins was the official architect of the Victoria and Saanich School Boards.
In recognition of the material and social values of the historic buildings of Old Town, the City of Victoria has established policies and incentives that encourage their adaptive re-use and improve their economic viability. Rehabilitated buildings such as this play a critical role in revitalizing the downtown economy, in providing commercial space and in environmental sustainability.
Source: City of Victoria Planning Department
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Brown & Cooper Building include its:
- location mid-block on Gordon Street, one block from the Empress Hotel and Inner Harbour, in Victoria’s historic Old Town
- continuous commercial use
- commercial form, scale and massing, as expressed by its two-storey height built to the property lines, rectangular plan, and flat roof
- masonry construction, with white-glazed brick on the front façade and common red-brick side walls
- typical commercial features of the Edwardian era including: overall symmetrical design; shaped front parapet; side pilasters; sheet metal cornices and sign band above rectangular storefront; and inset second floor bay window assembly
- windows, including double-hung one-over-one wooden-sash assemblies
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
- Office or Office Building
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Architect / Designer
C. Elwood Watkins
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Victoria Planning Department
Cross-Reference to Collection