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Riggs-Selman Building

319 West Pender Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6B, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1994/12/06

Exterior view of the Riggs-Selman Building, 2005; City of Vancouver, 2005
Front elevation
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/01/29

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Riggs-Selman Building is an Edwardian era, symmetrical, four-storey masonry commercial block, recognizable for its twin, pedimented parapets containing distinctive cartouches. It is located mid-block, on the north side of West Pender Street within the context of other commercial buildings of similar scale and age in the Victory Square area of central downtown Vancouver.

Heritage Value

Built in 1908, the Riggs-Selman Building is valued as an example of Edwardian era, commercial style architecture. Built on a speculative basis by investors Samuel Spenser Selman and Dr. Herbert Wilkinson Riggs, the building is characteristic of commercial type buildings of the era and is distinguished by its large, regularly-disposed upper storey windows. It is distinguished from other commercial buildings of the era by the articulation of the facade, which is more elaborately detailed on the first and upper storeys, with the central portion of the facade consisting of a plain, unadorned wall treatment of smooth stone veneer. This use of stone as a primary cladding material serves to denote the Riggs-Selman Building as one of quality, as the majority of related buildings within the area of the era are clad in less expensive brick. The building features very unusual exterior decoration, such as the 'Caduceus with Wings' in the capitals of the pilasters, as well as unusually shaped cartouches within each of its distinctive paired pediments.

Constructed as a commercial block with street-level retail or commercial space and offices above, the Riggs-Selman Building contributes to the character of the Victory Square area as an important commercial, corporate and retail district during the early period of the twentieth century. The building is prominently located amidst numerous bank headquarters and corporate offices in the hub of commercial activity.

Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Riggs-Selman Building include its:
- mid-block location on West Pender Street built to the property line, flush with other buildings along the street
- contribution to the streetscape as part of an unbroken streetwall with continuous retail storefronts
- commercial form, scale and massing as expressed by its four-storey height (with partial above-ground basement) and regular, rectangular plan
- masonry and timber frame construction with stone veneered facade and poured concrete foundation
- flat roof with raised parapets
- exterior elements, such as a large cartouche within the twinned pediments of the parapet; 'Caduceus with Wings' detail on each of the four pilasters; sheet metal cornice with block modillions; secondary sheet metal cornice and sign plate separating the first and second storeys; side elevation light wells; recessed main entrance containing separate doorways to each ground level commercial space; and receiving door at the rear
- regular, symmetrical fenestration, including large window openings on the second and third storeys with smaller openings on the upper floor



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

City of Vancouver

Recognition Statute

Vancouver Charter, s.582

Recognition Type

Community Heritage Register

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type



Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Commerce / Commercial Services
Office or Office Building

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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