A handful of heritage homes in James Bay are being relocated and restored to their former glory to make way for the Capital Park development behind the B.C. legislature.
Two heritage-registered houses at 524 and 526 Michigan St. were moved from Michigan Street to the corner of Dallas Road and Dock Street earlier this week.
According to city documents, the Prout House (524 Michigan St.), named after its original owner William Prout in 1891, is a two-storey wood-frame Victorian-era Italiante designed home with a front-gabled roof. Its front door is squared off with four white columns and its grand front-facing windows stand as tall as the entrance itself.
It was used as a rental property by Charles Beaven in the early 1900s, demonstrating an increased need for rental housing during a time of social and economic transitions in the neighbourhood.
Its neighbour is the Beaven/Macabe Residence (526 Michigan St), an Edwardian-era wood home with a full-width verandah supported by six Doric columns. First built in 1911, it was utilized as a boarding house in the mid 1910s.
With the incoming Capital Park development, developers wanted to preserve the history of the James Bay neighbourhood and considered half a dozen sites before eventually settling on the location at Dallas Road and Dock Street.
The one-kilometre move was a massive undertaking by developer Jawl Properties in partnership with Concert Properties. The heritage homes were moved from their home by truck and taken to a barge loading site off Store Street. The barge then was towed under the Johnson Street Bridge to Esquimalt Habour where it sat for roughly 24 hours. Wednesday morning, the barge made its way to Odgen Point, where a ramp was installed to bring the houses to shore.
“I was no small undertaking to do these relocations and restorations,” said Robert Jawl with Jawl Properties.
“These homes are part of the architectural history of Victoria, and specifically part of the architectural legacy of the James Bay community and as much as we want to facilitate the construction of new office, retail and residential space in the Capital Park development, we also want to acknowledge the beauty and history embedded in those buildings.”
In their final resting place, the houses will be rehabilitated back to their former glory as single-family homes over an eight to nine-month period. They will also be designated as heritage structures and put back on the market for sale.
In addition to the two houses, three heritage-designated houses on Superior Street are also being relocated to the south east corner of the Capital Park project along Michigan Street, putting them side-by-side with two other heritage structures that sit on province-owned land.
The three homes will be converted into rental residential units with 13 units in total.
Capital Park, bordered by Superior Menzies and Michigan streets, is a mixed-use development incorporating office, retail, residential and public space, and amenities.