gif Posted gif April 23-13

Victoria Hall, an important architectural and historic landmark, is for sale.

Victoria Hall
2438 Gottingen Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Photo: Phil Pacey

Mostly built in 1884-85, at the height of the revival of the French chateau style, Victoria Hall is one of the largest examples of this Romantic genre in Nova Scotia. The European-trained architect, Henry Frederick Busch, was one of the premier architects of Victorian Nova Scotia.

The building has played an important role in women’s history in Nova Scotia. The concept of a residence for older women whose means were “too limited for a comfortable livelihood” was championed by Isabella Cogswell, who devoted her life to helping the disadvantaged and the dying. Isabella Cogswell’s pioneering work for senior ladies was carried forward by a volunteer board. When Lieutenant-Governor Matthew Richey laid the cornerstone for the new ladies’ home, he said “Many handsome subscriptions to the building fund have been obtained.”

Victoria Hall has elegant round-headed dormer windows and brackets along the cornice, all typical of the French chateau style. On the second storey of the projecting frontispiece there is a superb Palladian window. Classical pilasters flank the front entrance, and pediments cap the windows on the ground floor. The interior is spectacular with many signature details of Henry Frederick Busch. Buildings designed by Busch are solidly constructed and durable.

Victoria Hall is an architectural and historic legacy and is a building of great public interest, built by public subscription for a public use. Victoria Hall is a Municipal Heritage Property and has the potential to be declared a National Historic Site.

The building is owned by Victoria Hall Trust. It is listed with CBRE, 902 492 2065. The agent is Andrew Cranmer, A 30-page prospectus and a draft letter of intent are available from him.

The building has a gross floor area of 32,800 square feet. It has 50 bedrooms, 7 washrooms, 2 kitchens, a large parlour and a large diningroom. It is fully sprinklered and has an elevator and a new roof. The lot area is 35,686 square feet.
The zoning is R3, high density residential. Since this is a registered heritage property, Policy 6.8 of the Municipal Planning Strategy allows for a wider range of uses, including a hotel or offices. Behind the Hall there is a parking lot, which could accommodate a separate building or buildings. There is an older 10-storey apartment building immediately to the south, but most recent construction on this block has been about three storeys high.

The assessed value in the present use is $905,400. The asking price is $2,975,000, which is $90.70 per square foot of the building, or $83.36 per square foot of the lot. Vacant land in this part of the city has been selling for substantially less per square foot.

Bids will be accepted after 4 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30. The board of the charitable trust will decide when they have received an acceptable offer. The board has indicated that the financial return will be the primary criterion, but that due diligence, closing times and retention of the existing building will also be considered.