Downtown Victoria Tour
Government Street – 1300 Block
1323 Government Street is currently the Christmas Village. The building was built in 1909 for Lorenzo Quagliotti, who used it as the Romano Theatre, one of Victoria’s early motion picture theatres.
Here is a map showing the location of 1323 Government Street:
Additional Information On 1323 Government Street
- Assessed Value (July 2017): $1,268,000; Land $712,000; Buildings $556,000
- Assessed Value (July 2016): $1,119,000; Land $524,000; Buildings $595,000
- Assessed Value (July 2015): $1,291,000; Land $685,000; Buildings $606,000
- Assessed Value (July 2014): $1,290,000; Land $668,000; Buildings $622,000
- The building sold for $1,150,000 on 30 September 2016.
A Brief History of 1323 Government Street
1323 Government Street was built in 1909 for Lorenzo Quagliotti, who used it as the Romano Theatre, one of Victoria’s early motion picture theatres.
The original building permit, issued to L. J. Quagliotti by the City of Victoria in April 1909, describes a “new brick building, 2 storey, 2 rooms,” with an estimated construction cost of $6,000. Despite the reference to a “new brick building”, there is some evidence that this building incorporated structural elements of an earlier building, built on this site in 1895 by architect Thomas Hooper.
Lorenzo Quagliotti used this building as the Romano Theatre until his death in 1930. It continued to be used as the Romano theatre until the late 1930’s.
Lorenzo Quagliotti also owned a number of other properties in Victoria. In 1917, Mr. Quagliotti’s lawyer compiled a list of his land holdings, describing the buildings on each property, their uses, value, the income they produced and the taxes assessed on them. This list has survived and contains some very interesting historical information. Here is what it says about 1323 Government Street:
“The lands herein described are 20’ by 120’ and there is erected thereon a one story brick building occupied as a Moving Picture Theatre and known as the “ROMANO.”
This building is very centrally located and will command a good rent. Mr. Quagliotti’s brother is operating it at present at a rental of $200. a month but in the estimation of those who know it would easily rent for $300. a month.
- Government valuation for S.D. purposes – $71,400.00
- City Assessment Valuation $29,040.00
- City Assessment (Improvements) $20,700.00
- City Taxes (General) 1917 $677.58
- City Taxes (Local Improvement) 1917 $17.20
- Yearly Income $2,400.00″
One interesting piece of historical information in this description is the reference to “Government valuation for S.D. purposes – $71,400.00.” S.D.” refers to Succession Duties, known in other countries as Inheritance Taxes, Estate Taxes and Death Duties, which were assessed on the value of an individual’s estate at the time of death. In Canada, a percentage of the estate, often approaching 25% for wealthy individuals, was payable to the federal government when the estate was probated. Lorenzo Quagliotti’s estate is an interesting case. When Lorenzo Quagliotti died in 1930, the Depression had caused a marked drop in property values; almost all of Quagliotti’s properties, including the Romano Theatre at 1323 Government Street, had to be liquidated to pay Succession Duties on his estate.
Since then this building has had a variety of uses. In the 1950’s it was Paulin’s Plumbing and Heating; in the 1970’s it was occupied by Lee Wah Lee, a jeweler, and Lee Chun; in the 1980’s, it became Edna Brown’s Little Dinner Theatre and restaurant. In 1988 it was converted from a dinner theatre to its current retail use.
Since the 1990’s it has been the Spirit of Christmas and the Christmas Village.
The building sold for $1,150,000 on 30 September 2016.
Here are some movie advertisements for the Romano Theater:
1919 – The Love Swindle starring Edith Roberts
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