The Adelphi Conundrum - Two Buildings, One Name

The Adelphi Conundrum - Two Buildings, One Name

With the closing of the long lived Field’s Shoe store at the corner of Government and Yates there has been a lot of talk about what will come of the the building around town. The Times Colonist had a recent story about the family that owned the store and the developer that has bought up a number of the buildings including 1300 Government Street. In referencing the building you continue to hear its name, the Adelphi Building. I have heard it maybe three times now and just kept thinking that people were just confused, but now I am thinking that I am confused. Because there was another Adelphi building in Victoria…

I know what you are thinking, that it isn’t weird for there to be more than one building with the same name. I mean there are two buildings named “The Chelsea”, just a few blocks from each other. But the two Adelphis are different because they would have been across the street from each other. Then Aastra on Vibrant Victoria brought up this duopoly again and now I have not been able to get it out of my head.

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The “other” Adelphi building sat at the south west corner of Yates and Government, where the P. Leonard James Post Office building is today. I am certain that the building that was torn down was called the Adelphi building because they were clever enough to put the name on it and there are still photos of it at the BC Archives. Zoom in on the photo below and you will see its name at the top left.

So then I read this article, which said that the Adelphi name on the Field’s Store building came from a nearby pub. The City of Victoria archives has this picture of the Adelphi Saloon. This building was replaced by the Adelphi building shown above.

Put “Adelphi Building Victoria” in Google and you will see that HistoricPlaces.ca website, The City of Victoria Heritage Inventory (page 13) and even Wikipedia all call the building that has Field’s Shoes in it the Adelphi Building and apart from Wikipedia, you would think that they would know. So maybe they both had that name… I mean the other Adelphi building (with its name on it) has been gone a really long time, right?! This is true, but from what I can tell, when the building with Field’s in it was built the Adelphi Saloon was across the street still. The other Adelphi building was built in 1907 and so that would mean for forty years, until the more southern Adelphi building was torn down in the 1940’s to build the post office, there would have been two buildings across the street from each other with the same name. One building with its name actually written on it and the other without that, but apparently called Adelphi. This, of course, seems like it would have been truly confusing if you had wanted to meet a friend at the Adelphi building, I mean which one? Even Aquae Vitae, the wonderful book by Glen Mofford has a chapter on the Adelphi Saloon and mentions the Adelphi block being torn down in 1941. I can find no other reason for the northern Adelphi building to be called this except to the proximity to the two previous buildings that were across the street.

Anyways I don’t actually have answer to this conundrum. It has just been bothering me and so I thought that if I did up a post, I could get someone that actually knows the answer to this one name, two building conundrum to let me know. If you can provide it to me I will definitely update this post with the information and a proper congratulatory credit! Hopefully then this post can live on with the information so that others will not get as confused as me about two buildings with the same name. So please leave a comment, tweet at me, send me an FB message or an email and let me know the truth!

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