Oak Bay lands record heritage awards

Three Oak Bay homes will be designated as heritage properties at this year's Hallmark Awards

These homes at 2176 Windsor Rd. (left)

These homes at 2176 Windsor Rd. (left)

Oak Bay will break records as the Hallmark Heritage Society dishes out awards this month.

“We’re just all so excited. It’s the best year we’ve had in years. I work with a group of people that are just wonderful. All our efforts have come to fruition and exceptionally so this year,” said Patricia Wilson of Oak Bay Heritage Commission. “Those homeowners are proud of their homes, they’re willing to have their houses publicly recognized so it’s a nice thank-you [to them].”

A trio of Oak Bay homes will be acknowledged for being designated as heritage this year at the Hallmark Awards: 2470 Bowker Ave., 1220 Transit Rd. and 2176 Windsor Rd.

“By designating their homes it’s preserving them for the future,” said Bronwyn Taylor, chair of the commission.

The Bowker home was built in 1912 and is one of the oldest and biggest on the block. The first residents were builder Royal H. Green, well known for his construction of large homes in the area, and his brother Elmer Elsworth Greene, a prominent architect noted for designing arts and crafts bungalows, particularly in the Seattle area. The second owner was businessman Ernest C. Hayward, who served 12 years on Oak Bay council and then as mayor from 1929 to 1933.

Designed by architects Percy Leonard James and Douglas James, the house at 1220 Transit Rd. exemplifies arts and crafts design with Tudor features. The house also retains its historic interior intact with few changes except necessary modern upgrading. The historic design features oak flooring, wainscoting, wood paneling, four fireplaces, original windows with leaded or stained glass, wooden staircases, as well as balustrade and newel posts.

The home at 2176 Windsor Rd. was built in 1912, at the historic location of St. Michael’s School, the first private boys’ school in Oak Bay, as well as being the home of its headmaster and founder, Kyrle C. Symons. In 1960, when the school moved to Victoria Avenue, the old schoolroom and gym were demolished, the playgrounds sold and subdivided, leaving the Symons house on the double lot it occupies today. The current owners applied for a Heritage Revitalization Agreement to subdivide the property to finance restoring the house, and therefore designated what is known locally as the Symons House.

A pair of St. Patrick Street homes – at 1014 and 1405 – will be recognized as those added to the heritage registry.

The two-storey Edwardian house at 1014 St. Patrick St. features a distinctive widow’s walk and two covered corner porches. The property anchors a cluster of historic properties on the block and its garden includes Garry Oaks and other indigenous species. Built in 1913 as a speculative venture during a period of prosperity and expansion, the house is valued as a handsome example of Edwardian architecture.

The 1922 house at 1405 St. Patrick is an excellent example of the pattern book homes that were popular during the 1920s. It exhibits features of the arts and crafts style such as the asymmetrical plan and façade, front porch with tapered columns and notched bargeboards; in addition, there are Tudor revival details such as the half-timbered gable ends which provide a landmark in the streetscape. The house retains much of its historic interior intact except necessary modern upgrading.

The cherry on top is The Arthur H. Piggott House at 2028 Runnymede Ave. that garnered the Award of Merit for its careful renovation.

Before beginning the renovations, the current owners met with Oak Bay Heritage to discuss the heritage importance of the home and property and were open to questions and tours.

“The home has recently been extensively, yet sensitively renovated,” Oak Bay Heritage wrote in its application for the award. “The current owners fell in love with a less than ideal property and were faced with major home repairs, cars on the overgrown front lawn and a dilapidated workshop.”

Despite the scale of the work, Oak Bay Heritage said the owners were determined to preserve the essence of the original property.”

“Everybody loves their house,” Wilson said of the homeowners being recognized this year. “They all have this attachment to their neighbourhood and their house.”

The Hallmark Awards will be held May 5 at St. Ann’s Academy in Victoria. To learn more about heritage homes in Oak Bay email oakbayheritage@oakbay.ca.