Historic former St. Joseph Hospital is on the market for $13.2 million

The 1908 building contains 70 rental apartments and a chapel that has been rented to artists

It comes with Ionic columns, mosaic tile floors, massive oak entrance doors, intricate stained glass windows, its own chapel and a beautiful location on just over half an acre in the heart of downtown Victoria.

And it could be yours for just $13.2 million.

The hospital contains St. Constructed in 1908, it is on the Canada Register of Historic Places and has a heritage designation with the City of Victoria.

Many residents of Greater Victoria remember going to what was known as St. Jose’s Hospital, later called Victoria General Hospital. Thousands were born there. Many nurses also received their training at St. Joseph, which faces St. Anne’s Academy across Humboldt Street.

Both were born of the Sisters of Saint Anne, a Catholic order of nuns whose members first came to British Columbia in the 1850s, eventually establishing the school, nursing and teaching hospital.

The nuns began their nursing work in a log cabin, but later Mother Mary Providence and Dr. John Helmkin worked together to establish the hospital.

A two-story brick building opened in 1876 with a capacity of 35 beds, and additions were made in subsequent years.

The 1908 building now on the market was designed by architects Thomas Hooper and Elwood Watkins. British Columbia Prime Minister Sir Richard McBride attended the opening ceremony.

In the late 1960s, the Sisters of Saint Anne moved the building to the county and it was renamed Victoria General Hospital, according to the Victoria Heritage Foundation.

Two decades later, the new Victoria General Hospital opened in Vieux Royale and the Humboldt Street facility shifted its focus to hospice care and was named Fairfield Health Centre.

The property has been privately owned for more than two decades. The building is owned by Victorian firm Schiffer Properties Corp, according to county government records.

The site falls under an extensive zoning that allows for multiple uses, but its heritage status comes with limitations on what can be done with the building.

The building is in good shape, said David Craig, president of Devon Properties, the property manager.

He said Wednesday that a three-year project to redesign its brick exterior was recently completed and emergency staircases rebuilt. The property’s marketing brochure says it has been seismically updated.

Of the 70 residential units, 63 are studios and seven one-bedroom, which rent at below-market rates.

They are all currently rented, Craig said. Joseph’s Apartments costs $811 per month, which is significantly less than what rental site Zumper says the average rental price for a studio apartment in Victoria: $1811.

Units have hot plates but not stocky kitchens and no parking.

Craig said there is a mix of tenants in the building, including some who use it as Bed Air.

Craig said that because of the building’s previous use as a hospital, it had very wide corridors, which were used to install bathrooms in the units. Many units have showers and some have bathtubs.

He said the elevator goes up four floors of the building, with seven more suites on the fifth floor.

Craig said interest in the drug has been steady, which came on the market two weeks ago.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

> To learn more about the history of St. Joseph Hospital, go to:

• chac.ca/documents/67/Victoria_St._Josephs_Hospital_1962.pdf

• victoriaheritagefoundation.ca/HReg/Fairfield/Humboldt840.html

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