120 Douglas Street, Victoria BC
Designed by J.C.M. Keith and built in 1914, this building was designated as a heritage site in 1985. It is a beautiful three-story building with an exterior of Italian Renaissance Revival-style brick on the lower storey, and a pebble dash stucco on the upper level.
Three pilasters divide the building into two sections with four vertical rows of windows on the left, and an entrance on the right with a row of windows above. The entrance has some beautiful detailing, and the door and transom glazed with leaded art glass. A larger rectangular dormer was added to increase useful space when the building was converted into nine residential units.
Owners of heritage buildings can apply for funding for restoration work from the Victoria Heritage Foundation and as we have good relations with the Foundation, they recommended us to the owners who were seeking quotes for restoration work. We were very interested in doing the job, and the strata council liked us and our work. They awarded us the contract.
There was quite a lot of brick on the building which had not really been looked at since it was built, and some areas were degrading more quickly than others, particularly the top of the chimney near the roof-line and the wash courses. A wash course is a band of bricks that protrude from the building. It’s a decorative feature that prevents water from running down the walls.
We always preserve what we can and replace only what’s necessary. In this case, we did not have to replace any bricks. It was all mortar matching. The engineer took a sample of the old mortar and had it tested in a lab, then came back with a recommendation of the blend of mortar we needed to replace it with.
We added dye to the mortar to age it, using four different concentrations of dye to satisfy the engineer. When we were finished, we carefully repointed the entire chimney and portions of the building with an arbortec - a specialized tool which does a better job of ensuring bricks are untouched.
Water was running through the wash course, which would quickly erode the brickwork without repair, so we laid a parge coat of polymer mortar to ensure the wash course would properly shed water from the building.
The result of our restoration work is this beautiful building will be well preserved for years to come, much to the delight of the building’s strata.