© The Whole Story 2014
727 Johnson Street             is a commercial building in Victoria, BC Canada.
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You are Home List of Services Photos of Victoria What's New! Current Projects Compensated Research Projects Whats Happened! Get in Touch The Whole Story 727 Johnson Street
Leonard Buttress Trimen – ref: 727 Johnson street He built Beacon Hill Park’s first bandstand in 1888
Description of Historic Place  727 Johnson Street is a three storey, Edwardian-era commercial building situated mid-block on the southern side of Johnson Street between Douglas and Blanshard Streets on the northern edge of Victoria’s historic Old Town. One of the city’s prime examples of Chicago School architecture as evidenced in its form, scale and massing, window patterns and restrained ornamentation, the building contributed to the commercial densification of the city even as it bridged transportation eras.  Heritage Value  Notable for its associations with two of Victoria's most prominent men of their time – Dr. Arthur J. Gareshe and Thomas Horace Plimley – 727 Johnson Street has continued a long-standing commercial tradition. Originally opened with Plimley's Garage and the City Livery sharing the ground floor, the building retains evidence of the change in modes of transportation throughout the city, nation and world. It is evidence of the rapid modernization characterized by the industrial revolution and the world war that would soon encompass Europe.  Dr. Arthur J. Garesche was born in Volcanville, Calif., in 1860, came to Victoria in 1886 with his family where he was a practising dentist from 1895 to 1952, the longest serving dentist in north america. His father was Francis Gareshe of the banking firm Gareshe, Green and Co.; he was married to Millicent Mary Trimen, daughter of the architect Leonard Buttress Trimen. He had several buildings built in Victoria, including 727 Johnson St. and the Garesche Block on Yates St. which, in 1905, had an automobile dealership located in it at the same time as the Plimley family operated their dealership at 606 Government Street.  Thomas Plimley arrived in Victoria in 1890, opened a bicycle shop, the Central Cycle Depot at 1110 Government Street, and by 1893, had developed a successful import business specializing in English cars. By 1907 the Plimley Automobile Company was operating at 606 Government Street (at Superior) which today is a government parking lot.  Plimley’s Garage was opened at 727 Johnson St. in 1910 when that building was opened, and in 1911, the bicycle department moved to 1205 Langley Street. In 1923 the company moved to 1010 Yates Street at Vancouver Street. Horace Plimley took over the family automobile business from his father, Thomas, after his death in 1929 and expanded into Vancouver in 1936. The Plimleys also opened a custom-built used car show room on the north-east corner of Yates and Vancouver in 1927.  George C. Mesher, the architect of the building, who with his widowed father, George Mesher Sr., came to the city in 1886, the latter having earned his living in England as a builder and contractor, and where his son learned the trade as well. Although not formally trained in architecture, the younger Mescher is notable for constructing some of the best Chicago Style commercial buildings during Victoria's building boom, including the Sayward Block (1911), Pemberton Block (1911) and the Metropolis Building (1913). He retired in 1924 and moved to the Alberni Valley in 1928 where his occupation was stated as a rancher.  727 Johnson St. is an excellent example of an Edwardian-era building built before the First World War during Victoria’s building boom. Architecturally the building’s value lies in its unique spatial arrangement on the ground floor, commercial massing, reinforced concrete construction and Chicago School styling which is notable for its grid like fenestration pattern, flat roof, and restrained ornamentation.   Character Defining Elements  Key elements that define the heritage character of 727 Johnson Street include its commercial history and its role in bridging horse-drawn to automotive transportation, its architectural style, and new construction practises of the day.  - prominent location mid-block on upper Johnson Street, at the northern edge of Victoria’s 	historic Old Town; - the three-storey form and high density commercial massing; - the Chicago School style elements, such as the flat roof, regular fenestration pattern of tripartite wooden sash windows and bracketed cornice; -asymmetrical street façade, originally four commercial bays of varying sizes, both interior and exterior, reflecting different uses and construction requirements; -masonry construction including reinforced concrete structure with massive wood beam supports; - the commercial use of the structure bridging the time period between the use of horses and the rise of automobiles with both having frontage at the same time; -interior spatial configurations associated with the buildings original design. Maps City Directories Permits Building Plans Vital Statistics Reports Tax Assessment Reels Statements of Significance Research