Downtown Victoria Tour
Fisgard Street – 600 Block
614 Fisgard Street – Lee’s Benevolent Association
612 Fisgard Street and 614 Fisgard Street were designed and built in 1910-1911 by architect C. Elwood Watkins for the Lee’s Benevolent Association. The Lee’s Benevolent Association still owns this building at 614 Fisgard Street. The Shon Yee Benevolent Association has owned 612 Fisgard Street since 1935.
Here is a map showing the location of the Lee’s Benevolent Association, 614 Fisgard Street:
Here is a Google Street View image of 612 Fisgard Street and 614 Fisgard Street:
Additional Information About 614 Fisgard Street
- Assessed Value (July 2018): $859,000; Land: $709,000; Buildings: $150,000
- Assessed Value (July 2017): $774,000; Land: $438,000; Buildings: $336,000
- Assessed Value (July 2016): $729,000; Land: $416,000; Buildings: $313,000
- Assessed Value (July 2015): $675,000; Land: $359,000; Buildings: $316,000
A Brief History of 614 Fisgard Street
In December 1909 Lee Mong Kow, Lee Dye, Lee Dan and Lee Wing Yew, acting on behalf of the Lee’s Benevolent Association, purchased two adjacent lots on Fisgard Street from the Chinese Empire Reform Association, which, at that time, operated from its local headquarters building around the corner at 1715-1717 Government Street.
The two adjacent lots purchased for the Lee’s Benevolent Association had been previously subdivided into narrow lots, each with only 20 feet of frontage on Fisgard Street and extending 120 feet north from Fisgard Street.
The Lee’s Benevolent Association decided to build two adjacent buildings, one on each lot, joined by a common wall. The Association retained architect C. Elwood Watkins to design this building at 614 Fisgard Street and the adjacent building at 612 Fisgard Street.
The photo below shows 1910 architectural drawing of the Lee Benevolent Association buildings, now 612 Fisgard Street and 614 Fisgard Street.
In the fall of 1910 the Daily Colonist reported that “two new three story brick buildings…..will soon be begun by the Lee Benevolent Association and Mr. Lee Mong Kow. Work will be started immediately. The larger building of the two (614 Fisgard Street) is to be occupied by the well known Chinese Association (i.e. the Lee’s Benevolent Association) while the smaller (612 Fisgard Street) will be rented by Mr. [Lee] Mong Kow for offices and living apartments. The buildings will be modern in every respect and will add greatly to the prominence of the thoroughfare. Mr. Elwood Watkins is the architect.”
In November 1910 the City of Victoria issued a building permit to the Lee’s Benevolent Association for construction of a new 3 story brick building, consisting of 10 rooms, with an estimated construction cost of $14,500. This building permit appears to have been for both 612 Fisgard Street and 614 Fisgard Street.
In 1920 the Lee’s Benevolent Association was having financial difficulties and it sold 612 Fisgard Street to Joseph Baker while retaining 614 Fisgard Street. In 1935, 612 Fisgard Street was purchased by the Shon Yee Benevolent Association, which still owns the building. The Chinese characters displayed horizontally on the facade between the second and third floors are the sign for the Shon Yee Benevolent Association.
The Lee’s Benevolent Association still owns this building at 614 Fisgard Street.
Perhaps because both 612 Fisgard Street and 614 Fisgard Street were designed by C. Elwood Watkins as part a single commission for the Lee’s Benevolent Association, both buildings share some common decorative features. Both are faced with white glazed bricks and both have cornices with a Chinese tiled roof and upturned corners.
614 Fisgard Street has additional decorative exterior features including a recessed balcony on the upper floor, which was a common feature of Chinatown buildings of the period. It also has a distinctive Beaux-Arts parapet and pediment panel.
Interior features of the building include a cheater floor and a skylight on the third floor meeting room.
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