Capital Iron Through the Years
A History of the Building
Our downtown Victoria store is housed in two buildings. The stone structure was built in 1863, with an addition from 1976-1977. The addition is clad in enameled steel and set back to impinge as little as possible upon the older building. The third building in brick, to the left of the stone structure, was an addition to the original Rice Mill in 1890 and is no longer used by the company.
The firm of Wright & Sanders, Architects, designed a number of structures in Victoria between 1858 and 1867, including Capital Iron’s main stone building. Wright & Sanders designed the original stone warehouse in 1863 for Dickson Campbell & Co., importer and commissions agents. The building consisted of two floors: a lower wharf-level floor and an upper street-level floor. As part of its original construction, iron shutters were placed over all of the windows on the stone building for fire prevention. The only surviving example is visible on the stairs up form the main floor.
The building was one of the first built along Store St. after the removal of the first Johnson St. bridge permitted ships to enter the upper harbour. At some time before 1885 the roof was replaced by a hipped roof and the lower level was paved with large flat pieces of sandstone on clay.
Few of the original stones have survived after more than a century but several are still visible in the store. Other points are interest are the longitudinal beams that span 120 feet with only one joint, the cast iron columns in the basement and the iron shutters visible part way up the main staircase to the second floor.
In 1885 the property was taken over by the Mount Royals Milling Company, which added a two story partial frame addition to allow for their milling machinery. Locally knows as the Victoria Rice & Roller Milling Co, they imported rice from the Orient and distributed across Canada once the railway opened. In 1890 the company built the brick building and extended the 1885 addition to the street. Unfortunately, the milling company went into bankruptcy in 1907.
After a period of various tenants, in 1934 Morris L. Greene rented the buildings and opened Capital Iron & Metal Ltd. In the 1950s the facades of the two main buildings were modernized with new windows and a coat of stucco. In 1980 under the guidance of Morris’ son and company president, Ronald Greene, and Architect, Claude H. Maurice, the facades of both older buildings were restored to their 1890’s appearance. The restoration was recognized with the 1981 “Award of Merit” of the Hallmark Society and the 1982 Regional Award of Heritage Canada