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Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Mitchell Block is a two-storey brick commercial building located on Main Street in Penticton, British Columbia. It was built in the Edwardian classical revival style with a symmetrical façade comprising three bays, with two recessed side bays.
The Mitchell block is valued as the largest remaining commercial building built on Front and Main Streets during the 1911 building boom that was key to Penticton's commercial development. Its broad façade is 68 feet wide, covering two-and-a-half lots, was much wider and more horizontal in emphasis than other earlier commercial buildings.
It was described in the Penticton Herald of the day as presenting "a modern scheme worked out on simple lines, the walls being of solid brick, with street façade of Clayburn pressed brick, laid in English cross bond, with trimmings of cement stone." The main floor featured large plate glass windows and two Romanesque arches. The upstairs had four pairs of double hung windows on the outer bays and two oval windows in the centre bay. At the centre of the roof line was a substantial entablature with a strong cornice line and a central panel with the date 1911 on it.
Built in 1911 at a cost of over $28,000, it was fitted with the newest features, including steam heating and electric light. The simple Edwardian Classical style represented a watershed in design and materials, as it replaced the earlier wooden buildings with their Late Victorian design details. The expense taken in building the Mitchell Block, such as the detail of transporting bricks from Clayburn, near Abbotsford, prior to having a railroad in Penticton is significant. It reflects the investment being made in substantial, well-built structures during the era of economic optimism with the sod-turning for the Kettle Valley Railway beginning, and generally upbeat economic conditions in Canada.
The building has historic value as a symbol of the growing economic commerce of this period. Its layout of three stores at street level and offices above was typical of the day but the scale was larger than had been seen previously in Penticton, and represented the most modern retail storefront and office building in town at that time. That it was filled immediately both up and down was also significant in that it reflected the need for new and modern retail and office space, given the growing pains of boom time Penticton.
The building is also valued for its association with J. R. Mitchell, who was a tailor by trade, but also one of Penticton's early orchardists and realtors. He was an early member of City Council, an active member of his church, involved in the board of trade, and was active in many other community organizations. He was the land agent for the Kettle Valley Railway, negotiated many key land purchases for the company. As a commissioned officer during World War I, he commanded a company of the Rocky Mountain Rangers and ran an enemy internment camp.
The building is also notable because of its association with the Clement family of Kelowna, the most pre-eminent brick builders in the Okanagan during this period.
SOURCE: City of Penticton Civic File
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Mitchell Block include its:
-broad dimensions of the façade
-Edwardian classical-revival architecture
-use of Clayburn pressed bricks
-prominent location in the historic 200 block of Main Street
-double hung windows on 2nd floor
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.954
Community Heritage Register
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
- Peopling the Land
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Shop or Wholesale Establishment
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Office or Office Building
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Penticton Civic File
Cross-Reference to Collection