Description of Historic Place
'Ince' is a large two-and-one-half-storey Tudor style house set on a corner lot at the junction of Foul Bay Road and McNeill Avenue in Oak Bay, British Columbia. The house has a basement, rubble-stone foundations, a shingle-clad first storey, and stucco with applied half timbering on the second storey. Three tall brick chimneys add to its prominence.
'Ince' is valued as an important component of the Foul Bay Road cluster of contemporaneous heritage homes, built on land that had been a holly farm on part of Frederic Pemberton's estate, 'Mountjoy'. Pemberton was a son of Joseph Despard Pemberton, the first Surveyor General of the Colony of Vancouver Island, who had originally owned the land.
The site is further valued as a significant demonstration of the social, cultural, and economic history of the area. The early houses on the Foul Bay escarpment were commissioned by affluent clients, designed by prominent architects, and usually employed the British Arts and Crafts architectural style, often with Tudor ornamentation. Many were surrounded by large estates with views south across Juan de Fuca Strait to the snow-capped Olympic Mountains, and east to the Coast Range and Mount Baker. These properties represent an era of prosperity in Oak Bay's development history. By the mid-1950s, however, social and economic conditions had changed and this site, like many other properties on the escarpment, was subdivided, in-filled, and converted into suites. 'Ince' has since been restored using original materials which had been discarded on the property.
'Ince' is also valued for its association with the Crease family. It was commissioned by Arthur Crease, son of Sir Henry Peering Pellew Crease who, in 1858, was the first barrister qualified to practise as a Barrister of Her Majesty's Court of Civil Justice for Vancouver Island and, in the same year, was named Attorney General of the mainland Colony of British Columbia. The Crease family was prominent in law and politics; Arthur and his brother Linley joined the family law firm in the 1890s. The firm, now Crease Harman and Company, is the oldest law firm in British Columbia. In naming his house, Arthur Crease honoured the family home, Ince Castle, in Cornwall, England.
The house, built in 1908, is valued for its architectural merit as a fine example of the Tudor Revival style. It is a stately mansion with a columned portico, columns flanking the bay window on the first storey, half-timbering on stucco, a "water table" (horizonal band) between the first and second storeys to direct rainwater away from the first storey, and tall chimneys.
This house is further valued for its association with Madge (Wolfenden) Hamilton, who lived there in the 1950s. Mrs. Hamilton served as the Assistant Provincial Archivist from 1934 to 1953. She left an important historical legacy in the form of an extensive photographic archive of interior and exterior views of prominent residential buildings, a project undertaken with the help of the British Columbia Historical Association. She also wrote the definitive biography of one of Oak Bay's pioneers, John Tod.
Source: District of Oak Bay Planning Department
Key elements that define the heritage character of 'Ince' include its:
- setting amongst mature Garry oak trees
- location, set back from the street on a corner lot
- residential form, scale, and massing
- gable on hip roof, hip-roofed dormers, flat-roofed dormers
- wood frame construction with heavy posts supporting the entrance porch and flanking the bay windows
- exterior treatments including rubble-stone, shingle cladding, and rough-cast stucco with half timbering
- style details such as stucco with half timbering, deep eaves with modillions, bell-cast roof, water table between storeys
- exterior architectural details such as three brick chimneys with corbelled tops and string courses below (two external and one constructed with rubble stone up to the eaves), spacious entrance porch with balcony above, blind arch in gable
- double-hung windows in various assemblies, casement windows in dormers, regular fenestration
- original interior elements including doors, panelling, and hardwood floors
- landscape elements including mature Garry oaks and holly trees