Author Stuart Stark has released a revised and expanded second edition of his award-winning book The B.C. Agricultural Association Exhibition Building at the Willows. (Keri Coles/Oak Bay News)

New photos unseen for 100 years lead to second edition of award-winning book

Local author adds new historical gems to book on ‘Crystal Palace’

On the heels of this year’s Hallmark Heritage Society Awards in which he won a Communications Award for his book The BC Agricultural Society Exhibition Building, Stuart Stark has released a revised and expanded second edition.

Since the run of the first edition last year, and with the press and awareness that stemmed from the heritage award, Stark has been contacted by others that have stories and photos of the iconic Exhibition Building at Willows, known as the “Crystal Palace.” The massive, all-wood structure was built in 1891 and destroyed in a spectacular fire on Boxing Day 1907.

RELATED: Exceptional accolades for Oak Bay at this year’s Hallmark Awards

The book recounts the social and architectural history of the building and grand exhibitions, weaving historical tales of horse races and agricultural dreams.

The “Crystal Palace” boasted over 26,000 square feet of space on the main floor and 10,000 in the galleries above, available for exhibits of the latest and greatest goods.

People came forward to Stark with photographs from their private collections, which, coupled with new research, resulted in the book being revised and expanded with 30 new pages of text and photographs.

Some of the new photographs have not been seen for over 100 years – including a rare panorama of the interior from 1901, photographs of the exhibits and a stereoscope view taken from the tower of the building.

RELATED: Lost Victoria: Story of the Crystal Palace

The Exhibition Building was built in the heart of Oak Bay and many residents today live within the old Exhibition grounds, the sixty-six acres of land that surround Carnarvon Park along Eastdowne Road.

Author Stuart Stark is an award-winning Heritage Consultant who has worked on the preservation and restoration of many of British Columbia’s iconic heritage buildings. He lectures on historical topics and his books.


 

keri.coles@blackpress.ca

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