Description of Historic Place
Rhode's Bakery is a Victorian Italianate masonry commercial building, built in two distinct stages, located on the east side of Store Street. Two storeys in height facing Store Street, it has a full lower level exposed to the rear courtyard. It is part of Market Square, a rehabilitated complex of late nineteenth century buildings that comprise the western half of a full block, with continuous historic streetfronts along three major streets and a central courtyard behind, in Victoria's Old Town.
Rhode's Bakery is a significant contributing resource to a key historic grouping of nineteenth-century structures that marks the northern edge of the expansion of Victoria's original Old Town. This block, bounded to the north by Pandora Avenue and to the south by Johnson Street, was once part of the course of the Johnson Street Ravine, a swamp that marked the boundary between the European business area to the south and Chinatown (now a National Historic Site) to the north. During the 1880s, the wooden shacks on the north side of the ravine were replaced with utilitarian commercial blocks housing Chinese businesses, spurred by the dramatic increase in the local Chinese population after the Canadian Pacific Railway was completed. The announcement of the land grant to the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway in 1883, and its completion in 1888, sparked a construction boom in Victoria of stores and hotels around the terminus at the west foot of Pandora Avenue. The south side of the block was filled with more elaborate buildings such as hotels and commercial enterprises run by Europeans, illustrating the physical and cultural divide within the early city. The large open space in the centre of the block remains as a significant representation of the interconnected network of courtyards and alleyways in Old Town, that provided service areas and access which were important to the commercial functions of these buildings.
Built in two stages in 1882 and 1900 that are united by common detailing, this building is also valued for its late nineteenth-century commercial architecture, which was enlivened with Victorian Italianate window and cornice detailing. The original, southern section of the structure was built for Joseph Rhode, a German immigrant who opened one of the city's earliest bakeries in 1872. Built to replace his earlier wooden building, this is one of downtown Victoria's oldest masonry buildings. The large rectangular glazed storefronts at street level illustrate the original retail function. Similar to other buildings of the same vintage, it once had a continuous wooden front arcade and balcony as illustrated by the lower sills of two windows on the second floor front facade that were once doorways. The addition, built in 1900 for John Hepburn, was designed by prominent local architect Thomas Hooper (1857-1935).
Additionally, this building represents Market Square's role in the modern revitalization of Victoria's historic downtown core. In the 1970s, Sam Bawlf and his brother, architect Nick Bawlf, pioneered private sector revitalization in Victoria by creating Market Square, a half-block of contiguous rehabilitated heritage buildings that framed a partly covered central courtyard, housing a vibrant urban environment with boutiques, restaurants, offices, and performance space. Seeking to reactivate Victoria's depressed downtown core with this massive project, the Bawlfs balanced urban revitalization with heritage conservation. The preservation of the open space in the central courtyard is a key feature that recalls the integral role of these secondary spaces in Victoria's commercial activities.
Source: City of Victoria Planning and Development Department
Key elements that define the heritage character of Rhode's Bakery include its:
- location within Market Square and the historic streetscape of Store Street, set flush to the front and side property lines with other contemporaneous buildings and a contiguous rear courtyard space, on an east-sloping lot that exposes the lower level at the rear
- continuous commercial and retail use
- commercial form, scale and massing as expressed through its two-storey plus lower level height, symmetrical rectangular plan, basement areaways and flat roof
- masonry construction, including: structural front, side and rear brick walls; timber internal frame; granite door thresholds; and rubble-stone foundations
- Victorian Italianate style features such as elaborated window hoods with entablatures and scroll-cut brackets; and projecting wooden cornice with scroll-cut brackets with medallions between; and paired brackets at the pilasters
- additional exterior features, such as cast-iron storefront columns, and two second storey lower window sills
- asymmetrical fenestration, including: rectangular storefront openings; flat-headed, double-hung 2-over-2 wooden sash windows with window horns on the front elevation; and segmental arched windows with double-hung 2-over-2 wooden sash windows on the rear elevation
- elements of the 1970s rehabilitation, such as the rear decks, openings into the rear courtyard from the front street, and stairways to upper floors