The Earl Block is significant as the only surviving example of the many Italianate style buildings that predominated at this downtown intersection by the late 19th century. Built in 1888 during the economic boom precipitated by the completion of the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway and the expansion of the No. 1 Coal Mine, this highly detailed brick building speaks to the mood or prosperity and possibility prevalent at the time. It is an important tangible reminder of Nanaimo’s economic heritage.
Two stories in height, with a flat roof, the building marks a prominent intersection. The facades display highly ornamental detailing, including segmental arched window openings with projecting heads and keystones, brick pilasters with recessed lines, and projecting stringcourses. The original double-hung wooden windows have also survived.
This Downtown landmark was designated as a municipal heritage site in March of 1977.