1401 Government Street, Victoria, British Columbia, V8W, Canada
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Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Prior Building is a massive three-storey commercial block with a beveled corner, located at the northeast corner of the intersection of Johnson and Government Streets in the commercial core of Victoria's Old Town District.
The Prior building is valued for its historic association with former Premier and Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, E.G. Prior. It is also significant to Victoria's Old Town District because of the physical contribution it makes to the historic streetscape.
This building has been considerably altered from its original design by architect Leonard Buttress Trimen, but it retains significant elements which shed light on its former grandeur, the socio-economic status of its original owner, and the historical context of its construction. The considerable size and prominent corner location of this 1888 building (with a 1902 addition), built for Colonel Prior, reflect the commercial prosperity of the E.G. Prior and Co. Hardware Store, which generated its success facilitating the considerable growth and development of Victoria and the province which occurred in the late nineteenth century.
The dominant form of this three-storey building with its beveled corner make it a considerable presence at the corner of Johnson and Government Streets, one of the busiest intersections in the city's commercial core. A counterpoint to the former Victoria Hotel across Government Street, the length of storefront and upper storey windows along the Johnson Street facade of the Prior Building add to the continuity of the historic streetscape, and serve to maintain the heritage character of the Old Town District.
Source: City of Victoria Planning and Development Dept.
The character-defining elements of the Prior Building include:
- Its massive form and three-storey scale, and flat roof.
- Characteristics which accentuate its prominent corner location, such as its beveled corner.
- The continuity of the street wall with the surrounding urban fabric, as illustrated by the absence of set-backs.
- All surviving elements relevant to its 1888 design by architect Trimen, and the 1902 addition, including decorative and structural masonry (underneath stucco and paint), the proportions and spacing of windows, cornice detailing, and decorative pilasters;
- Interior elements which support the heritage character of its original design.
- The integrity of the late nineteenth-century building envelope.
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.967
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Architect / Designer
Elford and Smith
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Victoria Planning and Development Dept.
Cross-Reference to Collection