(Re)Focus on Nanaimo's Heritage: From Bank to Beans

Feb 19, 2016

On the corner of Wallace and Albert sits a well-known downtown landmark. Built in 1912, this classic Free Renaissance-style building originally housed the Merchant's Bank of Canada and was designed by famed architect, Francis Rattenbury. 


As can be seen in the blended picture above, the building's exterior originally featured a combination of a banded brick base and quoining that framed the edges, windows and entrances. A later coat of stucco may have covered these features but some of the details, including the prominent cornices typical of this style, are still noticeable. 


There may have been some changes to the facade but the eclectic elegance can still be seen inside and out. In recent years, the building has become what has been described as Nanaimo's answer to Central Perk (the iconic coffee shop on the TV show, Friends), the Vault Cafe. 


To learn more about this and other buildings that are quintessentially Nanaimo, search the Heritage Register on the City website. 

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