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223 Robert Street

223 Robert Street, Victoria, British Columbia, V9A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1975/01/16

Exterior view of 223 Robert Street; Victoria Heritage Foundation, Derek Trachsel, 2005.
West elevation
Exterior view of 223 Robert Street, c.1918.; City of Victoria Archives, 1984: CVA 98406-35-1992
South and west elevations
No Image

Other Name(s)

223 Robert Street
James Muirhead House
White Tower House

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1903/01/01 to 1904/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/11/02

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

223 Robert Street is a one-and-one-half storey wood frame house on a large residential lot surrounded by mature trees and hedge, located in the Victoria West neighbourhood. It is just north of the Inner Harbour, across the water from the downtown area of the City of Victoria.

Heritage Value

223 Robert Street, built in 1903-04, is valued architecturally as a particularly fine example of the transition between Victorian and Edwardian versions of the Queen Anne style; as such it was declared in 1991 a National Historic Site, one of the few privately owned houses to be so recognized in Canada. It is an excellent example of the residential work of the architectural partnership of Thomas Hooper and C. Elwood Watkins, whose designs are responsible for many buildings in downtown Victoria; and of the fine work of builder Duncan McBeath.

The house exemplifies the quality of timber and millwork available from the Victoria firm of Muirhead and Mann, the firm that supplied the millwork for the British Columbia Parliament Buildings. The house was built for Muirhead's newlywed son, James McLaren Muirhead and his bride Ella Lowe, and exemplifies a fashionable suburban residence built for the second generation of a family that had had considerable success in trade and manufacturing.

Its subsequent history as a run-down rooming house almost lost to 1970s development pressures, but saved by the City and a dedicated new owner, points to the early history and enthusiasm of the heritage movement, both public and private, in Victoria.

Sources: City of Victoria Planning & Development Department; Victoria Heritage Foundation

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of 223 Robert Street include:
- its location on a large residential lot surrounded by mature trees and hedge
- Queen Anne features, such as: hipped roof with cross gables over asymmetrically placed bays on three sides; shallow hipped roof over verandah and entry hall; bellcast hipped roof on octagonal tower; flat topped Palladian window in the front gabled dormer
- Victorian elements, including: the prominent corner tower, ornate brackets, fancy shingles and tall double hung windows
- Edwardian elements, including: round Classical porch columns, narrow siding, large central window in the front and south side cutaway bays
- front door handle, an original souvenir from the construction of the British Columbia Parliament Buildings



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (BC)

Recognition Statute

Local Government Act, s.967

Recognition Type

Heritage Designation

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type


Single Dwelling


Multiple Dwelling

Architect / Designer

Charles Elwood Watkins


Duncan Gillman McBeath

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Victoria Planning & Development Department; Victoria Heritage Foundation

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places

General view

223 Robert Street National Historic Site of Canada

223 Robert Street is an ornate one and one-half storey wooden residence designed in the Queen Anne style. Built in 1905, its picturesque quality is enhanced by its location in a…


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