560 Yates Street
560 Yates Street, Victoria, British Columbia, V8W, Canada
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
560 Yates Street is a two-storey brick building comprising a shop with accommodation above in the heart of Victoria's historic commercial district.
This historic place is of interest for its association with families whose names are synonymous with the early history of the City of Victoria, for its history of use that is a lens on some key moments in the early history of British Columbia, and as an attractive component of the urban landscape.
560 Yates Street was one of a number of speculative ventures on this block of Yates Street, providing retail space with rooms above, by Captain Thomas Pritchard, a seaman from Abergavenney, Wales. He had made his fortune as a steamboat owner in Portland, Oregon, and after setting up a similar venture on the Fraser River on the Lower Mainland, was enticed to Victoria in 1862 by the Cariboo excitement.
The childless Pritchard died in 1883 leaving, according to his will, a "stone and brick building" (that must have been built in 1882 according to the dates on the cast-iron columns of the storefront) on this lot to his sister Margaret Watkins and the adjacent and eastern corner buildings to other members of the strong Victorian Methodist Watkins family.
The use of the building in the 1890s as the offices of Mining Agents Richardson and Heathorn and in 1898 by J.B. Stewart, Klondike outfitters, speaks to the importance of the port of Victoria as an embarkation point and administrative focus for mining ventures. The use in 1901 as the premises of F.R. Stewart and Company, wholesale provisions, speaks to the sudden end of gold fever and the changing retail market. The lease of the premises by the Victoria Incorporated Cooperative Fruit Growers Exchange Limited in 1910 almost certainly reflects the introduction of the Federal "Farmers Institutes and Co-operation Act" that permitted the creation of farmers' exchanges from whence farm produce could be bought and sold.
The premises remained empty throughout much of the First World War reflecting the effect of the war on the economy and perhaps the aspiration of owner Bernard S. Heistermann, scion of early twentieth century Victoria's most important real estate family, to develop the site in conjunction with the property to the west - an aspiration that finally found expression in the creation of what has become known as the Oriental Hotel.
The storefront façade dates to the removal of a wooden pavement-wide projecting balcony in 1889. The whole makes an important contribution to the streetscape and reflects the enhancements made by Margaret Watkins to the designs of noted Victorian architect Thomas Hooper and his partner (and Watkins' nephew) Charles Elwood Watkins. Watkins' work, and the social conscience of other Watkins family members, is also seen in the Women's Christian Temperance Union building next door to the east, the survival of which amplifies the value of the historic place.
Source: City of Victoria Planning and Development Department Files
The character-defining elements of 560 Yates Street include:
- its situation as one of a pair of adjacent two-storey buildings flanked by taller structures in a mid-block location
- the construction of the building on the street front lot boundary
- the storage / office / residential accommodation over storefront pattern of usage
- the differences in the detail and materials between the upper and lower halves of the façade that speak to the phasing of that element, and the use at the time of alteration, including the differences in colour of the brick, the moulded brick used in the cornices, the width of the central bay that is defined by cast-iron columns at ground level and more widely spaced brick pilasters on the upper storey, and the centrally located loading door to the street on the upper storey that is now blocked
- the damage to the brickwork above the lower cornice that speaks to the removal of the former pavement-wide balcony
- the articulation of the brick façade achieved by architectural elements including the upper and lower cornices, their moulded bricks and dentils, the combined string courses and hood mouldings, and the recessed arched windows
- the division of the street façade into three bays, and the emphasis of the central bay with a brick pediment
- the remains of the flagstaff fastenings on the back of the pediment
- the scalloped plinth (now filled in) at street level that indicates the arrangement of openings and windows of the original storefront
- the remains of the original storefront including the cast-iron columns and their layers of paint
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
- Hotel, Motel or Inn
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Victoria Planning and Development Department Files
Cross-Reference to Collection