The past, present & future
A Building Rich in History & Character…
The past, present and future of the Bell Apartments is a trilogy that will have an impact on the urban fabric of Victoria for years to come. At just over a century old, the building contains several details representative of the quality craftsmanship of its time, and has been home to countless residents, including married couple Alick Thomas Bentall Charlesworth and Elizabeth Rosina May Price, who were wed on Saltspring Island in October 1915.
Charlesworth was a Corporal in the 88th Battalion and tragically lost his life on May 30th, 1917, while piloting a DH4 bomber overseas during WWI. Heartbroken, Elizabeth was left to mourn her young husband’s death. The poppy worn by the female figure on the south facade’s mural (created by local artist, Lydia Beauregard) is an homage to the courage and sacrifice made by Charlesworth and so many others.
The 40s & a 3rd Storey…
In 1944, the Bell Apartments saw the addition of a third floor, and 10 new apartment homes. Walking through the rooms, it’s easy to imagine this past era; the natural light pouring in through the windows, and the warm hardwood floors - still in place today - bearing the footfalls of residents from all walks of life. Word has it, the building has been home to a large number of artists over the years, and indeed, the high ceilings of the second floor and original wainscotting paired with new features like patterned tile and brand new kitchens, make the Bell Apartments a truly inspired place to live. This characteristic is at the heart of the intention of this revitalization project: to provide a quality living environment that in turn allows residents to live their own inspired life.
This unassuming but beautiful building has been a part of the cityscape for 106 years, and by breathing new life into its walls and adding novelty features where appropriate, our goal is to further extend its presence within the community for decades to come.
Time for change…
Today, the Bell Apartments tips its cap to the past, but also looks toward a bright & bold future. For example, in 1940 Ernest Hemingway wrote what is often regarded as one of the greatest war novels of all time: For Whom the Bell Tolls, a story of camaraderie and sacrifice. There are references (some more subtle than others) to this book throughout the building, including this passage from its pages displayed on an interior corridor wall: “For what are we born if not to aid one another?”– which is as poignant a reminder in our present-day lives as it was decades ago.
Furthermore, the Suffragette woman painted on the building’s exterior (who has come to be affectionately known as “Lady Bell”) represents individuality, equality and a shifting cultural climate, and she will remain an artful landmark on Cook Street as time ticks on. The immediate future will see the new construction of a sister building adjacent to the Bell Apartments, aptly named The Charlesworth. The project has been designed to respect its stylistic and architectural context while not denying its own time period. The buildings will complement each other, and The Charlesworth aims to bring a contemporary authenticity to the neighbourhood. Lady Bell’s gaze will remain unobstructed, and the community will be strengthened by conscientious and progressive urban development that is motivated by a desire to enrich the lives of its residents, old and new.