425-437 Bernard Avenue, Kelowna, British Columbia, V1Y, Canada
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Casorso Block is a three-storey brick commercial building, built in 1913 in the Edwardian Commerical style and located mid-block at 425-437 Bernard Avenue in Kelowna's downtown area.
The Casorso Block is valued for its close association with the Casorso family, which has been an active part of the evolving Kelowna community since the 1880s. The building, a quality design, is also a prominent landmark that has accommodated a range of commercial and institutional uses since its construction in 1913.
The building's historical significance relates largely to its connections with Kelowna's prominent Casorso family. Giovanni (John) Casorso came to British Columbia from Italy in 1883, and went to Kelowna to work for Father Pandosy at the Okanagan Mission. He took up a pre-emption next to the Mission and developed the extensive Pioneer Ranch, in which seven of his eight sons would become partners.
In 1912 one son, Joe Casorso, encouraged his brothers to open a retail butcher shop, as Kelowna was not well served with meat supply at that time. The shop was operated by Claude Newby and Leo Casorso. The family's entrepreneurial spirit is evident in the construction of the three-storey Casorso Block the following year. It accommodated not only the butcher shop (the 'Sanitary Meat Market'), but also housed an ice-making plant, which supplied home ice-boxes and provided ice for cooling rail cars carrying fruit out of Kelowna. The building's second floor contained offices. The third floor of the building was rented to the provincial government for a courthouse and temporary jail, an arrangement that lasted thirty years, thanks to the Casorsos' political connections.
Daniel K. Gordon, mayor of Kelowna in 1932, worked first as manager of, and then partner in, the Casorso Brothers' butcher shop, and later managed a chain of stores from Kamloops to Penticton. This shop was renamed D.K. Gordon Meat Market in 1935. About 1960, the Casorsos sold the building to another politically-connected Kelowna entrepreneur, W.A.C. Bennett. He in turn resold it to Fumerton's Department Store, which used the premises to expand its adjoining store.
The building also has considerable architectural value. It is a landmark as a rare three-storey building, contrasting with the dominant one and two storey commercial structures along Bernard Avenue. It is a good example of the Edwardian Commercial style, displaying a more classical manner than most other retail and office buildings of the time. Its scale reveals the confidence that the Casorsos had in the continuing economic growth of young Kelowna.
Source: City of Kelowna, Planning Department, File No. 6800-02
The character-defining elements of the Casorso Block include its:
- Prominent three-storey, five-bay brick facade
- Local brick front elevation, with concrete on the side and rear elevations
- Pronounced decorative cornice and high parapet with raised centre panel
- Classical brick pilasters between windows
- Well-proportioned windows
- Dado panels set into spandrels
- Prominent dentils on cornice
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.954
Community Heritage Register
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Shop or Wholesale Establishment
- Correctional Facility
- Courthouse and/or Registry Office
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Office or Office Building
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Kelowna, Planning Department, File No. 6800-02
Cross-Reference to Collection