Recognized Federal Heritage Building
Dawson, Yukon Territory
View of front and side facade.
© © Permission Guy Masson
233 Second Avenue, Dawson Historical Complex National Historic Site of Canada, Dawson, Yukon Territory
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1902 to 1902
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
Ruby’s Place, also known as Building 13, is located in the Dawson Historic Complex National Historic Site of Canada. The two-storey, gable-roofed, rectangular structure features a painted, Boomtown façade with two prominent oriel windows. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Ruby’s Place is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
Ruby’s Place is closely associated with the Klondike Gold Rush and the development of Dawson as a supply service and distribution centre for the mining community. The building is more specifically associated with prostitution and is a very good illustration of a significant phase of local development. Ruby’s Place was Dawson’s premier house of prostitution during the period 1935 to 1962. Of all the residents of 233 Second Avenue, only Ruby Scott, the ‘Madame’, had lasting significance. Ruby Scott became a pillar of the community, much loved by Dawson’s more ‘respectable men, women and children’. Her generosity was legendary, as was her reputation as a cook, hostess, and ‘a good old soul’.
Ruby’s Place demonstrates very good aesthetic design. Originally designed as a symmetrically fronted, dual dwelling, its Boomtown façade street elevation is notable for two dramatic oriel windows. The ground floor plan had traditionally served a dual purpose: the north half served as an office and the south half as an apartment. The second floor retains the essential elements of the 1902 centre-hall boarding house plan. Taken together, these elements comprise the building’s good functional design. The structure also shows very good craftsmanship and materials.
Ruby’s Place reinforces the Edwardian character of the neighborhood, the historic character of Dawson City, and is a familiar landmark to residents and visitors.
Sources: Ruby’s Place, 233 Second Avenue, Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report Notes 88-012; Ruby’s Place, 233 Second Avenue, Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Heritage Character Statement 88-012.
The character-defining elements of Ruby’s Place should be respected.
Its very good aesthetic design and good dual-purpose functional design, for example: the two-storey form and massing of the gable-roofed, symmetrical, false-fronted structure; the horizontal, painted, coved siding of the street façade with its distinctive, large oriel windows; the arrangement of the entrance door flanked by large windows; the functional interior configuration of two interconnected areas.
The manner in which Ruby’s Place reinforces the Edwardian character of its streetscape setting and is a familiar landmark, as evidenced by: its form, materials and details, particularly on the street frontage, which contribute to the Gold Rush character of Dawson City; its former function as Dawson’s premier house of prostitution making it known to residents of Dawson City and to visitors.
Heritage Character Statement
The heritage character statement was developed by FHBRO to explain the reasons for the designation of a federal heritage building and what it is about the building that makes it significant (the heritage character). It is a key reference document for anyone involved in planning interventions to federal heritage buildings and is used by FHBRO in their review of interventions.
Ruby's Place, Dawson City, was built in 1902 as a lodging house probably for Mrs. Eva Ogara. The two cabins at the rear may predate the lodging house by a year or more. The designer of the various buildings is unknown. External modifications (none of which can be dated with any certainty) include the removal of an exterior stair at the rear, the boarding up of one of a pair of rear doors and the boarding up of one of a pair of front entrances. Internal modifications (also undateable) include the insertion of a quarter-turn staircase with landing, the rearrangement of partitions and doors, and other minor changes. The buildings are owned by Environment Canada, the Canadian Parks Service, Environment Canada. See Building Report 88-12.
Reasons for Designation
Ruby's Place and the two cabins were designated Recognized. The result of the evaluation is somewhat unusual in that a Recognized class was achieved with relatively low scores for all but one criteria. In the case of site, where the historical relationship between building and its associated landscape was considered, it was agreed that while some minor changes have occurred, the character has been retained.
The theme most identified with the building is prostitution. In the period 1935 to 1962, Ruby's Place was Dawson's premier house of prostitution. Of all the residents of 233 Second Avenue, only Ruby Scott, the madame, had lasting significance. Ruby Scott became a pillar of the community much beloved by Dawson's more "respectable" men, women and children. Her generosity was legendary, as was her reputation as a cook, hostess and "a good old soul."
In architectural terms, the most that can be said of the building is that it is a good example of the type, construction and handling of materials in Dawson's attempt at Edwardian grandeur.
Throughout its existance the building has remained compatible with the neighbourhood character. Its conspicuousness within the townsite derives from its former function rather than its present form.
Character Defining Elements
The heritage character of the main building derives from the generally symmetrical, false-fronted street elevation notable for two dramatic, yet primitive oriel windows. Internally the building is notable for the ground floor plan arrangement which has traditionally served a dual purpose - in 1902 an office or business in the north half and an apartment in the south half - in 1935 a "parlor" in the north half and a private apartment for madame in the south half. The second floor retains the essential elements of the 1902 centre hall boarding house plan, as modified in later years as sleeping-chambers for a "parlor house."
Considering the acknowledged association of the main building with prostitution, and the madame, Ruby Scott, the most appropriate treatment for the main building would be rehabilitation or restoration utilizing the present opening pattern and room arrangement, or where sufficient information existed, recovering an appearance it had between 1935 and 1962.
Until such time as proper research has been done on the two cabins in the rear yard, the most appropriate treatment for them would be