The address ‘120 Douglas Street’ is probably not familiar to most who reside in Victoria. ‘Beacon Drive Inn’ however, is a location almost everyone in the city knows, famous for its delicious, local soft-serve ice cream. Well, 120 Douglas is the beautiful old Italian Renaissance Revival-Style building, hidden behind a massive cedar tree next door to the popular restaurant. This building, designed by J. C. M. Keith, was built in 1914 as Beacon Hill School. The building opened that year in a thriving residential neighbourhood. The school originally held 137 students in just four classrooms (those poor teachers!). Unfortunately by 1972 the schools’ enrolment was dwindling as the areas residential population migrated to the suburbs and high-rises were developed. In 1978-79 the building was redeveloped into eight strata-title apartments. The developer, Town and Country Realty opted to keep the buildings historic appearance earning the Hallmark Society award for sympathetic and adaptive reuse.
*Note that in the images above the two large trees that today block the building from street view are present in the 1950-70 photo but considerably smaller!
Victoria Heritage Foundation. (2021) 120 Douglas Street
Beacon Hill School. Heritage Register, James Bay. https://www.victoriaheritagefoundation.ca/HReg/JamesB/Douglas120.html