Heritage Register
James Bay

624 Battery Street

Built 1910
Heritage-Designated 2015

For: Ralph & Mary Switzer

Architect: J.C.M. Keith

624 Battery


624 Battery Street is a two-storey Edwardian single-family home with six rooms built in 1910 for $3,400. The front façade has a heavy belt course defining the two floors. The main floor has a single-storey box bay on the left and a shallow recessed porch on the right. Original double-hung sashes survive on the sides and rear. Front-facing steps with low bannisters lead to the porch with original concave brackets on plain square columns. The original front door has half-length side-lights with later glass.

The hipped roof is bellcast, with wide, closed eaves, and is dominated by two original corbelled chimneys. The building stands on a concrete foundation, parged to resemble stone blocks. The Foursquare footprint is modified by a two-storey rear extension, offset on the left side, also with a bellcast roof.

The house is within and protected by Battery Street Heritage Conservation Area No. 2. The HCA comprises more than two dozen houses, primarily built in the pre-war building boom of 1903-13, but anchored by the unique 1889 mansion “Pinehurst” (617 Battery St). Number 624 Battery plays an important role in a streetscape of largely intact homes on the north side of the three-block street.

The house has value as an example of Edwardian architecture and for its association with architect J.C.M. Keith (Keith & Evers 1891-1930), who became one of Victoria’s preeminent designers through the 1890s and 1920s. Keith made a major and lasting contribution to the city’s architecture, designing many Victoria residences, primarily in the Tudor Revival or Arts & Crafts styles, notably the imposing Ryan residence, at 651 Battery St (1912), as well as prominent public buildings, including the Pemberton Chapel and Christ Church Cathedral. A number of his residential commissions were for 1½-storey homes, with half-timbering in the gables. This house, in the Foursquare style, and covered with shingles, breaks with this tradition and is valued as a rare design form by this significant architect.


1910-1911: The house was built for Ralph Switzer (b. Co. Limerick, IRL, 1834-1911). He immigrated to the US in 1885. The 1900 US Census shows Ralph Switzer, widower, residing in Oregon. His occupation is listed as “capitalist”. In 1908 Mary Murray (b. Co. Galway, IRL, 1876-1957) and Ralph Switzer were married in Vancouver. Mary was 32 and Ralph was 73. He died a year after moving to 624 Battery St.

1912-1951: Widow Mary Switzer continued to own the house until the early 1950s. For most of those years the house was rented out to others. In the later years Mary resided at the Devonshire House Rooms in the 700 block Fort Street.


• James Bay History

• James Bay Heritage Register

• This Old House, Victoria's Heritage Neighbourhoods,
Volume Two: James Bay

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