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The Arts and Crafts Movement in Victoria, B.C.


Alexis Martin Residence

Alexis Martin Residence, by Samuel Maclure, 1904
Alexis Martin Residence
by Samuel Maclure, 1904

The Alexis Martin residence is located at 1598 Rockland Avenue, and is considered to be a landmark in the career of architect Samuel Maclure. Designed in 1904 for the family of lawyer Alexis Martin, the house is representative of Maclure's pure Arts and Crafts designs. In its day, the house attained "international acclaim as an exemplary Arts and Crafts residence" (Segger, 1986, pg. 53).

Featured in two prestigious international publications, the Craftsman and the Canadian Architect and Builder, the chalet shingle-style house extends horizontally over the landscape with its wide weeping gable and west end sun room (Victoria, pg. 62).

The house is clad entirely in cedar shingles which were allowed to weather naturally. The extended west-side verandah gives a more horizontal effect to the home, which combined with the mixture of half-timbering, single and plastic handling surfaces, hints of Maclure's earlier bungalow style homes and the work of Wilson Eyre, whose works Maclure became familiar while studying in Philadelphia. Despite these influences, the residence remains distinctly Maclure (Segger, 1986, pg. 112).

True to the Arts and Crafts Movement, the textures and spatial design of the residence makes it seem like it is an extension of its natural environment. A Maclure trademark is to ensure a picturesque window with a fabulous view and the Martin drawing room and porch open up to spectacular views of the Olympic Mountains and the Juan de Fuca Straight.

Interior of the Alexis Martin Residence, by Samuel Maclure, 1904
Interior of the Alexis Martin Residence

The interior of the residence was furnished by the famous Arts and Crafts interior designers, M.H. Bailley-Scott and Gustav Stickley which highlights the Martin family's awareness of and preference for top quality Arts and Crafts furnishings. Throughout the residence, "there was an emphasis on simplicity and lightness" (Bingham, pg. 62).

The arrangement of the interior space allows for the hall to be the spatial core of the house, functioning as a central living room. All rooms are panelled in natural fir with matching heavy ceiling beams. The panelling of the first floor was stained a dark brown while the upstairs was finished with white plaster. Large tiled fireplaces graced each room as centre pieces.

The Alexis Martin house is a classic example of the fascination with the Arts and Crafts styles in Victoria around the turn of the century and the mastery of Maclure to create a style true to the movement yet distinctly his own. The Martin house is "perhaps Maclure's most celebrated design during his own lifetime" (Segger, 1986, pg. 111).

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