Armoury

Recognized Federal Heritage Building

Vancouver, British Columbia
Aerial view (© (Department of National Defence, 1989.))
Aerial view
(© (Department of National Defence, 1989.))
Address : 620 Beatty Street, Vancouver, British Columbia

Recognition Statute: Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
Designation Date: 1991-01-14
Dates:
  • 1899 to 1902 (Construction)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • T.W. Fuller (Jr)  (Architect)
Other Name(s):
  • Armoury / Drill Hall  (Other Name)
Custodian: National Defence
FHBRO Report Reference: 90-137
DFRP Number: 16873 00

Description of Historic Place

Located in urban East Vancouver, the Armoury on Beatty Street is a massive, low-massed symmetrically composed structure. The main entrance is a central troop door guarded by towers. Constructed of brick, its battlements and rounded towers convey a strong image of solidity and impregnability. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Armoury is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical Value:
Constructed as the regimental headquarters for the local militia, the Armoury is closely associated with the building campaign undertaken in conjunction with the development of the Active Volunteer Militia during the period preceding the First World War. During the First World War, the structure functioned as both training and recruitment centres.

Architectural Value:
The Armoury is a very good example of an armoury that expresses its military purpose with a style evocative of a medieval castle. Its functional design, and the very large floor space, a result of the overhead Fink truss system, are also distinguishing characteristics. Its many medieval features display excellent craftsmanship.

Environmental Value:
The Armoury is an important and familiar local landmark in downtown Vancouver and is compatible with the present character of the area.

Sources:
Jacqueline Adell, Armoury, Beatty Street, Vancouver. British Columbia. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 90-137; Armoury, Beatty Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, Heritage Character Statement 90-137.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Armoury should be respected.

Its medieval style using good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example: the large scale, symmetrical, low-massed structure composed of the head house and large drill hall; the grand troop door, flanked by projecting three-storey crenellated towers in the manner of fortress architecture; the regularly spaced flat and round-arched windows and flat roofs; the rough-faced stone at basement level, the pressed brick of the walls, and the stone detailing in the form of stringcourses, lintels, voussoirs and copings; the large unobstructed space of the central drill hall.

The manner in which the Armoury is a familiar community landmark as evidenced by: its prominent downtown setting where it occupies a large site; its distinctive military design which is readily identified by the community.

Heritage Character Statement

Disclaimer - 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.

The armoury was constructed in 1899-1902, as the regimental headquarters for the local militia, and continues to function as a drill hall. It was designed by the federal Department of Public Works. The custodian is the Department of National Defence. See FHBRO Building Report 90-1 37.

Reason for Designation
The armoury was designated Recognized because of its historical association with the development of the Active Volunteer Militia during the period preceding the First World War and its particular significance as a regional headquarters, because of the quality of its architecture, and because of its landmark status.

Character Defining Elements
The heritage character of this property is defined by its distinctive form, by the treatment of the Beatty Street facade, and by aspects of the interior substantive of its military function.

The armoury is an amalgam of two distinct structural units: a massive drill hall, spanned by an immense gable roof, and a flanking auxiliary wing, detailed to represent a medieval castle. It is important to retain the clarity of this simple design concept.

The Beatty Street facade expresses a military purpose with its symmetrical composition and evocative detailing. The rhythmic fenestration, quarry faced stonework, crenellations, decorative chimneys, and the rounded towers guarding the main door, are features which should be preserved.

A coating applied to the brickwork has altered the original character of the building, however, masking the colour contrasts inherent in the masonry and diminishing the effect of the stone detailing. The foundation remains a strong visual factor, particularly so for the rear elevation, and should be carefully maintained.

The interior is distinguished by a voluminous drill hall, its floor space totally unobstructed owing to the provision of an overhead Fink truss system. The significance of other interior features should be evaluated, as a preliminary to any proposed intervention. Modifications which would alter the existing internal configuration, or affect historic fabric, should be implemented in a reversible manner.

Because of its prominent location and conspicuous appearance, the armoury is an important local landmark. The huge bulk of the drill hall benefits from the clearance

afforded by the street on one side, and on the other, by the flat expanse of ground which currently serves as a parking lot.