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Heritage Register
Fairfield

906 McClure Street
Bessborough Apartments; Abigail's Hotel

Built 1930
Heritage-Registered/Apartment, now Commercial

For: Maude Hutchison

Architect: Percy Fox

906 McClure

ARCHITECTURE:

This handsome Arts & Crafts Tudor Revival-style stucco and half-timbered apartment building is three storeys in a butterfly plan. The end elevations are visible from the front and the narrow projecting central entrance bay is tucked into the hollow of the front. The arched entrance is framed in a decorative molded stucco border with a keystone above and capped by a jettied and balconied gable. All windows are double-hung multi-panes over single-panes, in pairs or groups of three. The roof is punctuated by a pair of gabled dormers and corbelled red brick chimneys are set into the angles of the roof on the bias. The roof ridges are capped with sheet metal with scrolled ends.

ORIGINAL OCCUPANTS:

Mrs Maude Mary Hutchinson (Edwards, 1870-1952) in 1928 opened her first apartment building on a rocky ledge at the corner of Quadra and McClure Sts. Born in Clarence, ON, her earlier life as a teacher in the Yukon Territory had left her well-equipped to take on a challenge and she wanted the 2-storey, 8-unit Willingdon Apartments at 902 McClure St to provide a comfortable home for herself and her tenants. Furnshings and fittings were of top quality and Maude lived in the building and managed it for several years.*

In 1930 Maude built the Bessborough Apartments, with just six apartments on three floors, next door at 906 McClure St. She was living on Rockland Av by then, later on Faithful St, and finally Douglas St in James Bay.

OTHER OCCUPANTS:

Later owners continued to manage both the Willingdon and the Bessborough (named for two of Canada’s Governors General) as prestigious residences; it remained almost impossible to get a suite unless you knew someone who was moving out. The Willingdon was eventually demolished, possibly when the city rationalized this complicated intersection and extended Quadra beyond Rupert Tce to join what was then Rupert St.

The Bessborough was renovated and converted to a hotel in 1985. In 1987 Bill McKechnie and Stuart Lloyd won a Hallmark Society Award for their adaptive reuse of the building. A 2-storey “coach house” was added on the left by architect Brian Morris in 1998.There were further renovations in 2005 to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the award-winning boutique Abigail’s Hotel.

*From Adventuring in Apartment Building by A.J. Grierson, Sunday Province, Vancouver, 8 Dec 1928.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION & IMAGES:

• Statement of Significance (Canadian Register of Historic Places)

• GIS Map of Victoria's Heritage Register Properties

• Fairfield History

• Fairfield Heritage Register



• This Old House, Victoria's Heritage Neighbourhoods,
Volume Four: Fairfield, Gonzales & Jubilee


 © VICTORIA HERITAGE FOUNDATION (VHF) 2014
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