Alice Wilson and Davyd McMinn enjoy a cup of tea at the Ross Bay Villa in Fairfield Monday. The Ross Bay Villa is celebrating its 150th anniversary this Sunday (July 19)

Alice Wilson and Davyd McMinn enjoy a cup of tea at the Ross Bay Villa in Fairfield Monday. The Ross Bay Villa is celebrating its 150th anniversary this Sunday (July 19)

Ross Bay Villa celebrate 150th anniversary

Nestled between a residential home and a three-storey commercial building sits a one-storey stone coloured villa on Fairfield Road.

Nestled between a residential home and a three-storey commercial building sits a one-storey stone coloured villa in the 1400-block of Fairfield Road.

The garden surrounding the 1,200-square-foot home includes a colourful assortment of flowers and its windows are lined with lace curtains.

From the outside, its a modest home, but once you step off the porch, it’s like entering a time capsule into the 1860s.

The villa’s 12-foot-tall drawing room ceilings are lined with blue and white patterned wallpaper, its windows are draped with floral-patterned curtains, a fortepiano sits next to a “what not” and above the fireplace sits a massive over-mantle mirror.

The rest of the home, including the entry hall, dining room, kitchen, three bedrooms and servant room are just as authentically furnished as the drawing room.

The Ross Bay Villa Historic House Museum belonged to Frank Roscoe and Anna Letitia Le Breton who lived in the villa from 1865-1879. The family eventually moved from England to settle in Victoria, establishing a hardware business called Fellows & Roscoe.

Roscoe also served as a member of parliament and worked to bring the railroad to B.C.

The gothic revival-style villa quickly became a place for the family and their five children to entertain the creme de la creme of Victoria’s elite.

“They were unitarians. They came from the enlightened group in England,” said Simone Vogel-Horridge, president of the Ross Bay Villa Society who began working on the restoration of the building when it began in 2000.

“They were also very practical. You could tell by their house, it’s very small and modest. They knew what their means were and they didn’t overextend themselves. [Roscoe] was very smart and intelligent.”

Now, the single floor home stands almost exactly as it was back in 1865.

Over the past 15 years, the Ross Bay Villa Society has restored the home (which is currently owned by the Land Conservancy of B.C.) back to its former glory.

Vogel-Horridge and the team of more than 150 volunteer have spent years find and researching authentic period furniture (finding everything from an albion stove to mattresses and card tables to oil lamps), recreating wallpaper, hand-painting the entry hall walls and tiles, and bringing in fine art and textile conservators and heritage consultants to make sure everything in the home is authentic.

But the project wasn’t without challenges.

“Early on the foundations were shot. They were just rotten, wooden pillars,” said Nick Russell, a board member who has been working on the project for the past 15 years.

“We worked under there in the wet, filthy, muddy stinky space to put in 56 concrete posts.”

Finding the funds to complete the restoration was also a problem, but allowed to society to come up with some creative solutions.

“Instead of buying a $50,000 oil cloth, we made it ourselves for $12,000 and fundrasised for it,” said Vogel-Horridge, adding that funds mostly came from donations, small grants and the volunteers who donated their time, expertise and materials.

“We’ve done this all on a very tight shoe-string budget. We’ve invested so much of our time and money, we need to protect it and make it last for a long time.”

This Sunday (July 19), the villa will celebrate its 150th anniversary. The free celebration will include live music, heritage displays, information booths and a Victorian carnival. Cream tea will also be served for $7 and there will be guided tours also for $7.

Though most of the home is restored, there are a few things they hope to do.

“You never finish an old house because it constantly needs renewal,” said Russell. “The master bedroom we need to finish and we need to make wallpaper for the three rooms.”

For more information about the celebration, email info@rossbayvilla.org.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sidney Jon Blair said he would have died if a van and car had collided at the intersection of corner of Resthaven Drive and Brethour Avenue in early December. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney senior urges motorists to slow down on Resthaven Drive

Jon Blair said community must become more pedestrian-friendly

Bob Joseph, author of 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act, will be available for a Q&A through the Vancouver Island Regional Library Jan. 28. (Courtesy of Vancouver Island Regional Library)
Q&A on the Indian Act with Bob Joseph open to Greater Victoria residents

Bob Joseph is the author of 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act

Tarpaulin-covered tents sit next to one of the ponds in Beacon Hill Park. The location of the Meegan community care tent has still not been nailed down, as Victoria council rejected the recommendation offered by city staff. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Location of care tent for Victoria’s Beacon Hill campers still not settled

Council roundly rejects Avalon Road site, road’s edge on Cook Street appears the top alternative

Coaches with the Juan de Fuca Minor Hockey association have had to get creative during their weekly practices to keep players interested and improving their skills without physical contact. (Damian Kowalewich photo)
West Shore minor hockey coach shares what it’s like on the ice without parents, fans

Most practices consist of relay races, goalie shots and passing drills

The Songhees Wellness Centre is a symbol of First Nations strength in the region. Representatives of local First Nations will soon play a greater role in decision making and governance relating to the Capital Regional District. (Courtesy Royal Roads University)
Capital Regional District to add First Nations representatives to advisory committees

Board approves bylaw, looks forward to Indigenous input on future decisions

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy, Everett Bumstead.
The tree-planting life on Vancouver Island featured in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)

Most Read