Serving Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland since 1998
The Hart’s Block at 529-539 Herald Street is a City of Victoria Heritage building, built in 1891 for
Michael Hart, who used it as a livery stable and carriage repair shop. The two wider carriage doors
were to allow horses and carriages to enter and exit the building and are still a primary
architectural feature of the Herald Street facade. Raven Metal Products was tasked to re-create the
original cornice work with historical accuracy. There is a common internal passageway called
Blood Alley that connects 532-536 Fisgard Street, the Quan Yeun Yen building and the Hart’s Block.
After November 1910, the Hart’s Block passed into the possession of Canadian Chinese business
owners. It was used for various functions over the years, including laundries and a notorious
brothel, which was run on the second floor circa 1920’s. One remaining feature of the second floor
brothel was a partitioning of the rooms by two connecting closets, through which people could
move between rooms without being seen in the main corridors.
What is a Cornice?
A cornice (from the Italian cornice meaning "ledge") is generally any horizontal decorative molding
that crowns a building or furniture element – the cornice over a door or window, for instance, or
the cornice around the top edge of a pedestal or along the top of an interior wall. A simple cornice
may be formed just with a crown.
The function of the projecting cornice of a building is to throw rainwater free of the building’s
walls. In residential building practice, this function is handled by projecting gable ends, roof eaves,
and gutters. However, house eaves may also be called "cornices" if they are finished with
decorative molding. In this sense, while most cornices are also eaves (in that they overhang the
sides of the building), not all eaves are usually considered cornices – eaves are primarily
functional and not necessarily decorative, and a cornice has a decorative aspect to it.
The projecting cornice of a building may appear to be heavy and hence in danger of falling,
particularly on commercial buildings, but often it may be very light, made of pressed metal.
Hart Building Cornice Restoration
RE-CREATING AN IMPORTANT PART OF OUR HERITAGE