Heritage Register

1501 Fort Street (ex-157 Cadboro Bay Rd)
Regents Park, Higgins Hall

Built 1885
Heritage-Designated 1974

For: David & Mary Higgins

Architect: Henry Hudson Leslie
Builder: John Munro

1501 Fort


Regent’s Park is one of Victoria’s most elaborate Italianate Villas. The hipped-roof main structure is 2½ storeys with a hipped-roof projection on the front, which in turn has a front-gabled projection with a dentilled open-bed pediment on its right front. There is a 2½-storey gable with the same pediment and a single-storey flat-hipped roof wing on the right side. The house abounds with decorative detail: single and double carved brackets on moulded frieze-boards, an ornamented belt course, cornerboards representing pilasters, and scrollwork on the frames of the doors and hooded, arched-top windows. It is clad in drop siding. There is a single-storey angled-bay window on the front gable, and entries with porches on the left front corner and the left side. It cost $8,000 when constructed, with only J.D. Pemberton’s home Gonzales (demolished) exceeding it at $10,000, and at a time when the average house was $1,000-$1,500. The name Regents Park was associated with this property as early as 1863, when architect Charles Vereydhen sold a 20-acre parcel of land in what is now known as the Rockland neighbourhood.

When Carl Rudolph purchased it in 1963, the house had deteriorated extensively after years of neglect, and was facing possible demolition. The 2-storey entrance hall is dominated by the grand floating staircase that splits into two flights. Huge reception rooms with 12-foot ceilings on the main floor retained original wallpaper friezes and plaster cornices, ceiling borders and corners. Of the eight fireplaces, only the lower hallway retained its original tiles, but Carl refitted the others with Victorian tiles which he collected from important early residences demolished in the 1960s and ’70s. Carl started restoring this house a decade before the heritage movement began in British Columbia, and when the majority of the public still encouraged wholesale demolition of old properties. In 1974 Carl asked Victoria City Council to designate the house as heritage, the first designation in Victoria and BC of a privately-owned residence. Carl received restoration awards from Heritage Canada in 1975 and Victoria’s Hallmark Society in 1984.


1885-1904: David William Higgins (1834-1917) was born of English stock in Nova Scotia and schooled in Brooklyn, NY. He apprenticed as a printer, then sailed to California in 1852. He founded The Morning Call in San Francisco in 1856, but in 1858 another journal sent him as special correspondent to the Fraser River gold rush. He arrived on the Sierra Nevada in the new British colony, and settled in Yale, keeping a store and managing several mining camps.

Higgins then met Amor De Cosmos (1825-1897) and worked in Victoria on De Cosmos’s British Colonist from 1860-62. With partner J.E. McMillan, Higgins established the Victoria Daily Chronicle. From then on, a bitter feud between Higgins and De Cosmos was played out in no-holds-barred journalistic warfare. Four years later, Higgins bought the Colonist and merged the two as the Daily British Colonist and Victoria Chronicle; in 1872 he reverted to British Colonist.

Higgins organized and was president of the first fire department in 1860, and in 1886-87 was a Victoria City Councillor. From 1866-69 he was a trustee on the first Board of Education in the Colony of Vancouver Island. In 1886, after building the house, he sold the Colonist and was elected as Liberal-Conservative MP for Esquimalt. He was Speaker of the Legislative Assembly 1890-97, then retired in 1900. In 1889 Higgins was founding President and Managing Director of the National Electric Tramway & Lighting Co (508 Discovery St, Burnside). He later lived in Port Angeles and served as British Vice-Consul.

In 1863, Higgins married Mary Jane Pidwell (1846-1900), daughter of Elizabeth and John Trevasso Pidwell, a merchant from Charlottetown, PEI. (Pidwell was frequently fined for riding his horse too fast through city streets; a fall from his horse eventually killed him.) Eldest son William Ralph Higgins studied music and was an amateur actor and member of Victoria’s famed Arion Male Voice Choir in 1885-95. In 1889 he married Edith Louisa “Dolly” Helmcken, daughter of Dr. J.S. Helmcken (638 Elliot St, James Bay) and granddaughter of Sir James Douglas. Will died suddenly at 30 in 1896. Second son Frank, a barrister and chief factor of the Native Sons of BC for many years, built 1202 Fort St (Fernwood). He died at 81 in 1953. Daughter Maude married Thomas Corsan. Youngest son Charles Paul became a doctor. After working in Fernie, BC, he and his family moved to San Francisco in 1921.

D.W. Higgins wrote two books, The Mystic Spring and The Passing of a Race, published in 1904 and 1905. His descriptions of Victoria’s early colonial life solidified his fame. The Higgins were members of Bishop Cridge’s Reformed Episcopal Church, and Mary Jane was a staunch worker for the church and local charities. In 1904 Higgins sold Regents Park and moved to the Balmoral Hotel. He then lived with daughter Elizabeth and her husband James L. Raymur until his death on his 83rd birthday.


1904-26: In 1904 Regents Park was purchased by Mary Louisa (Fox) and Dr. Ernest Amos Hall (1861-1932), who operated it as the Restholme Sanitarium from c.1910-13 and later as a nurses’ home. Dr. Hall played violin and piano, and was an artist. In 1923 he helped re-organize Victoria’s police force, and was sued by some of the detectives for his troubles.

1927-63: David Evans, a nurse, then orderly at St. Joseph’s Hospital, his wife Ida Madeline, and four children lived in the house from 1927. Ida and a premature baby died in 1930. Son David P. Evans, a government employee, remained in the house after his father’s death, and sold it to Carl Rudolph in 1963.

1963-97: Carl Pierce Rudolph (1915-1997) was born in Victoria, the elder son of Robert Andrew and Mary Hannah (Tennant) Rudolph who came from Kentucky and Ireland, met in South Vancouver, married and came to Victoria in 1910. His brother Tom was born in 1918. After grade eight, Carl and Tom were apprenticed to Devonshire-born woodturner and cabinetmaker Charlie Whitfield. They made small furniture, which was sold privately. After two years, Carl turned to construction.

After Robert received $150 from injuries in a car accident, he, Carl and Tom opened The Chair Shop on Fort St. The boys built the furniture and did woodturning, and Robert did the upholstery. However, the Depression killed the business. They moved to 1219 Wharf St c.1936 and built boats for several years. Then the brothers moved to Vancouver. Carl worked at Sigurdson Millwork, then F.A. Brodie’s BC Brush Works. They made specialty brushes, including ones for cleaning guns during WWII, so Carl was exempted from war service.

After the war, Carl worked at David Boat Works in Steveston until he and Tom started Rudolph Boat Works in Vancouver. But post-war shortages of copper nails and other essential supplies made business tough. Carl moved back to Victoria to live with his mother until her death in 1963, when he bought the house. He worked at Foster’s Boat Yard, then at the federal government drydock in Esquimalt, as a woodturner and shipwright. After retirement, Carl opened Regents Park as a private museum, Higgins Hall. He died in 1997 at 82.


• Map of Victoria's Heritage Register Properties

• Rockland History

• Rockland Heritage Register

• Royal BC Museum Archives

• This Old House, Victoria's Heritage Neighbourhoods,
Volume Three: Rockland, Burnside, Harris Green,
Hillside-Quadra, North Park & Oaklands

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