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Crystal Gardens

701-11 Douglas Street, Victoria, British Columbia, V8W, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1995/01/19

Exterior view of Crystal Gardens; City of Victoria, 2004
View looking southwest, 2004
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Other Name(s)

n/a

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1924/01/01 to 1925/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2004/08/17

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Crystal Gardens is a one-storey glass and steel structure on the corner of Belleville and Douglas Streets.

Heritage Value

Crystal Gardens is significant because of the role it has played in the social development of Victoria since the early twentieth century. Built in 1925 to provide the city with its first indoor swimming pool and converted into a conservatory in 1980, it is notable that this facility has remained contemporary to the recreational and social activities of the municipality. The year-round use of this steel and glass structure was unique in Canada at the time of its construction, and was made possible by its state-of-the-art heating system. Commissioned by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) to entertain visitors to the city, this facility is also representative of the development of tourism in Victoria, and continues to attract tourists to the area. Its prominent corner position provides continuity to the streetscape of tourist-related buildings that extend outwards from the Inner Harbour.

The architectural value of Crystal Gardens resides in its distinctive design and its landmark presence. Designed by Francis Mawson Rattenbury and P.L. James, two of Victoria's most notable architects, the 'crystal palace' appearance is unique among buildings in Victoria and is defined by its distinctive glass roof and horizontal massing. It is notable that this design for the CPR went back to Rattenbury's triumphs from an earlier era, as it extends his vision for the Inner Harbour. Crystal Gardens is a reflection of the nineteenth century industrial world of steel - reminiscent of railway architecture - and the genteel traditions of glass-enclosed spaces.

Source: City of Victoria Planning and Development Department

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Crystal Gardens include its:
- horizontal form and rectangular massing
- prominent corner position and Douglas Street commercial storefronts
- reinforced steel construction and pitched glass roof
- brick bearing walls and concrete raft foundation
- classical exterior detailing

Recognition

Jurisdiction

British Columbia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (BC)

Recognition Statute

Local Government Act, s.954

Recognition Type

Community Heritage Register

Recognition Date

1995/01/19

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Sports and Leisure

Function - Category and Type

Current

Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment

Historic

Leisure
Pool or Beach

Architect / Designer

Percy Leonard James

Builder

Lord and Burnham

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Victoria Planning and Development Department

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

DcRu-770

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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