1857 Fern Street
For: Alfred Hughes
Designer/Builder: William Van Munster
This 2-storey gambrel-roofed house is one of a mirror-image pair built simultaneously for $5,000. Both were duplexed in the 1990s, but the exterior integrity of the original buildings has been maintained. The Dutch-style roof –rare in Victoria—is echoed on one side with a two-storey box bay. The opposite side has a dormer with simple shed-roof. (The gambrel style enables more headroom on the upper floor, similar to the French-inspired mansard style.) The houses are clad in shingles throughout, have corbelled chimneys, and small drop finials in the peak. Dentil decoration appears in the architrave and belt-course, and was probably originally on both porches. Slightly more decoration seems to have survived on this house than on its neighbour, including a leaded-glass piano window and porch brackets. The front-facing half-width porch has a hipped roof and square columns.
(For a note on William Van Munster, see 1871 Fern St.)
The two houses were built on a speculative basis by Alfred T. (or J.) Hughes. The first known resident, in 1910-11, was Robert Bartlett Berks (1855-1936), a commercial traveller in the firm of J. Piercy & Co. He later became head traveller for Turner, Beeton & Co. He came from Newcastle, Staffordshire, England, to Victoria in 1897. His wife was Ethel Jane (Goering, 1869-1926), a native of Eccles, Lancashire, England. Robert was a musician and graduated from the Royal College of Music.
Clerk Alfred Elsey lived here in 1912, and by 1914 the house was vacant. Richard Newton was the occupant in 1917, and by 1921, it was once again vacant. Arthur Greenwood Brook (1880-1964), a painter, and his wife Irene Hephzibah (Wilde, 1895-1985) lived here in the mid-1920s. Arthur was a native of Winhill, Yorkshire, England, who came to Victoria in the early 1920s. He was a member of Henderson Lodge, AF&AM, GARBC.
Thomas Rogers bought the house in 1929 and lived here with his sisters Isabella, Margaret and Harriet. Thomas was born in Durham, Grey County, ON, and farmed near Regina, SK, before retiring to Victoria. His sisters remained in the house until 1950.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION & IMAGES:
• Map of Victoria's Heritage Register Properties
• Jubilee History
• Jubilee Heritage Register
• Hallmark Heritage Society Archives
• This Old House, Victoria's Heritage Neighbourhoods,
Volume Four: Fairfield, Gonzales & Jubilee