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Little-known Nelson heritage buildings: Home Private Hospital

Updated: Feb 14

I’ve previously written about sites in West Kootenay associated with the Patrick family, famous for their exploits in early lumbering and hockey. But I didn’t realize until recently that yet another notable site directly connected to them still stands.


What’s more, the rambling house at 414 Falls St. in Nelson (formerly 412 Falls) has a fascinating history: it was built by a mining magnate who died in bizarre circumstances, and later became home to other well-known mining figures, a former mayor, and a former MLA.


It was turned into a maternity hospital, in which at least one well-known Nelsonite was born, then converted into a business college, a gentlemen’s club, and finally an apartment building. Also: one of its noteworthy tenants stood trial for manslaughter.

Here is the house in a ca. 1914-22 photo from the Shawn Lamb Archives at Touchstones Nelson, as seen from Baker Street. To my knowledge it has never been reproduced before.

Although the accession record correctly identifies the location, my eyes needed a moment to accept what they were seeing, for this lush jungle is mostly pavement now.

It is not possible to take a photo from the same location today, on account of the building that now stands directly south of the house at 191 Baker, home to Kutenai Art Therapy, among other things. Below is the house from the Falls Street side.

We know exactly when the house was built and for whom, thanks to this item in the Nelson Miner of Nov. 24, 1898: “Mr. Roderick Robertson’s new residence on Baker [sic] street, west of the CPR offices, is rapidly nearing completion and will be one of the handsomest in the city.”


Unfortunately, it didn’t tell us the architect, contractor, or anything else and I could find no other updates. Two days before the newspaper item, Robertson was issued a plumbing permit for Block 87, Lots 7-8.


Although the house fronted on Falls Street, it was sometimes described as being on Baker, from which it was set back one block, but plainly visible. Here it is on the 1899 fire insurance map, showing its unusual shape. It was at that time in a fairly lonely part of town.

J. Roderick Robertson was manager of the London and British Columbia Goldfields Ltd. and its subsidiary, Whitewater Mines Ltd. The company’s headquarters still stand at 266 Baker — the building was home to the Nelson Daily News from 1908 to 2010.


On Jan. 27, 1902, Robertson was in his room on the second or third floor of the posh Murray Hill hotel in New York when two tons of dynamite exploded during construction of the Park Avenue subway tunnel. Every window in the hotel was blown out. By one account, “It was as if a million cannons had been fired off at once.”


Robertson, 44, had been standing near the window and was struck by debris and thrown to the opposite side of the room. He was among eight people killed. An estimated 100 others were injured while hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage was done to buildings including two hotels, a hospital, and Grand Central station.


While the exact cause was not determined, investigators suspected a candle left too close to dynamite shed was to blame.


The Miner claimed that Robertson had a premonition of his death: “Strange as it may seem, Mr. Robertson for a long time has entertained a presentiment that he would die suddenly by means of an accident.” He carried life insurance as a result.

J. Roderick Robertson’s death as reported in the Nelson Daily Miner.


Robertson left a wife and four children. His widow Barbara Ann (whose given names were only recently rediscovered) was also prominent in Nelson. She was president of the local chapter of the National Council of Women, a member of the Kootenay Lake Hospital board, and founding president of the Nelson Free Library Association, which established the city’s first library. The Robertson home hosted board meetings for the latter organization.


The tax assessment for 1898 showed the house was actually in Barbara’s name, along with the vacant Lot 9 next door. By the time of Roderick’s death they had also acquired Lots 3-6 and 10 in the same block.

Barbara Ann Robertson and J. Roderick Robertson were the first occupants of 414 Falls St., from 1898 to 1902. They are seen here stitched together from two photos found on ancestry.ca, which do not quite add up to a complete portrait.


Five months after her husband’s death, Barbara auctioned her furniture and effects and leased the home to S.S. Fowler, who had been her husband’s right-hand man.


Fowler took over as general manager of London and British Columbia Goldfields and would soon become closely associated with the Bluebell mine at Riondel. Fowler and his new bride, Frances Elizabeth Hedley (a sister to Robert Hedley, for whom the town of Hedley was named), were still in the home as of June 1904. But by 1905, George H. Barnhart, a prominent Ymir mining man had leased it.


Barnhart’s wife Margaret and Eliza Bird, who lived on the same block, threw a garden party on the grounds of the home on June 25, 1907 under the auspices of the St. Saviour’s branch of the women’s auxiliary. The Daily News promised:

Tea, strawberries and ice cream will be served. Amongst the attractions will be “Aunt Sally,” and an amateur orchestra of mandolins, guitars, and violins in the evening. Miss Bealby will play a violin solo.

(Aunt Sally, Wikipedia tells us, is “a traditional English game usually played in pub gardens and fairgrounds in which players throw sticks or battens at a model of an old woman’s head.” Charming.)

The Robertson House is seen in a detail from a bird’s-eye-view, ca. 1905-13. Also pictured at far left is the back of the Sherbrooke Hotel and, to the left of the Robertson house, the Sunnyside Hotel (later the Empire Temperance and Allen Hotel, now the Dancing Bear Inn). Courtesy Shawn Lamb Archives/Touchstones Nelson 1987-156-002


On Jan. 18, 1908, the Daily News carried this classified ad: “WANTED — Girl for general housework; must be good cook. Apply Mrs. Barnhart, 412 Falls St., corner Baker St.”


By this time, George Barnhart was managing a mine in Ouray, Colorado. In August 1908, Margaret offered the home for rent “furnished for a period of three to six months.”


The ad gave us a concise description of the building: “A six roomed house containing three bedrooms, dining room, parlor, kitchen, bathroom, electric light and stone basement.”


It was yours for $25 per month. Or rather, it was about to be the Patrick family’s.


Joseph and Grace Patrick (seen below on their 50th wedding anniversary in The Vancouver Sun of May 6, 1933) and their children had already lived in a couple of places since moving to Nelson in 1907 to start the Patrick Lumber Co., which had timber limits in the Slocan Valley and a large sawmill at Crescent Valley.

While we don’t know the exact addresses, a newspaper item in November 1907 had them living on Robson Street and another in August 1908 placed them on Cedar Street. We know they moved to 412 Falls thereafter for a couple of reasons.


First, in his 1968 memoir published in Nelson Historical Pictorial (1982), Dr. C.E. Bradshaw wrote: “The Petty Apartments just off Baker on Falls Street was the home of Roderick Robertson, gold commissioner [sic], and later the home of the Patricks who had a sawmill at Crescent Valley.”


I never knew what to make of this. It was long established that 917 Edgewood Ave. had been the Patrick family home, based on the 1910 civic directory, so I thought Bradshaw was mistaken. He wasn’t.


The smoking gun is in the Daily News of Nov. 26, 1908:

Mrs. Joseph Patrick will receive this afternoon for the first time at her residence, corner Baker and Falls street, and not again until after the New year, following when she will be at home the fourth Thursday of each month.

Additionally, on April 15, 1909, this classified ad appeared: “WANTED — Smart woman by the day for washing, general housework, etc. Apply Mrs. Patrick, Baker street.”


Though the house was large, it must not have been enough to accommodate the Patricks and their seven children — including hockey superstars Lester and Frank. That or they wanted to own rather than rent. And so the Daily News of May 27, 1909 reported:

Joseph Patrick, managing director of the Patrick Lumber company, has purchased through McDermid & McHardy, E.C. Traves’ house on Edgewood avenue and fill [sic] take up his residence there almost immediately.

In August 1909, Margaret Barnhart ordered the second auction of the effects of 412 Falls, which this time included mahogany, mission, and oak furniture, a piano, sewing machine, roll top desk — and a shotgun.

The 1911 census finds another noteworthy family at 412 Falls: Frank and Margaret Fletcher and children. Frank (pictured here), was a former Nelson mayor and built one of the city’s grandest homes at 306 Silica (which also still stands), but for some reason didn’t stay there very long.


The 1910 civic directory listed him at 523 Stanley St., so they had only recently moved to Falls Street. The earliest sign of them there is a classified ad in the Daily News of May 29, 1910, in which they were offering a reward for the return of their Persian tabby cat, Greyboy. During the Fletchers’ tenure, the Women’s Auxiliary of St. Saviour’s Church also held its annual garden party at the home in June 1911.


In August 1912, on the instructions of Mrs. Fletcher, the household furniture of 412 Falls was auctioned off for a third time, including a Heintzman piano, and the family moved out.

917 Edgewood Avenue is where Joseph, Lester, and Frank Patrick reportedly decided to sell their lumber company and risk the proceeds on starting western Canada’s first professional hockey league.


On May 27, 1911 the Daily News carried an ad for an auction of household furniture there — which was obviously how the well-to-do preferred to dispose of things in those days.


The family left to build arenas in Vancouver and Victoria while their Nelson home was converted into a rooming house known as Edgewood Lodge, first mentioned in the Daily News on Nov. 28, 1911: “Edgewood Lodge, formerly the residence of Joseph Patrick, on Edgewood avenue, will be open to guests on Dec. 1.”


Caroline Jorand was the manager. Her husband Henri had been a lawyer and district registrar in Slocan City and Nelson. This classified ad appeared in the Daily News of April 10, 1912: “FOR RENT — At Edgewood Lodge, two furnished rooms, with or without board, 917 Edgewood Avenue. Phone R428.”

917 Edgewood Ave, seen in 2007. Joseph Patrick bought the house from E.C. Traves in 1909. The Patrick family only lived there for two years, but it appears they owned it for much longer.


Then something strange happened. In October 1912, a classified ad for a room at Edgewood Lodge appeared, giving its address as “Corner Baker and Fall[s].” And in January 1913, an ad appeared for “Furniture of Edgewood Lodge, corner Falls and Baker streets. Purchaser wishing to continue boarding house could secure present patronage by applying at once.”


How and when did Edgewood Lodge move from Edgewood Avenue to Falls and Baker? There was obviously a connection between the two homes through the Patricks and Caroline Jorand. The 1913 civic directory listed 917 Edgewood as vacant and Edgewood Lodge at 412 Falls, with Mrs. Jorand residing there.


It could hardly have been a coincidence that Mrs. Jorand relocated to that particular building. But I’m at a loss to explain why the rooming house relocated across town and why it kept the same name. Throughout this time, Barbara Ann Robertson continued to own 412 Falls, although she now lived in England. Was she dealing with the property by mail and telegraph or did she have an agent in Nelson?


In February 1913, the furniture of 412 Falls was auctioned off for the fourth time in 11 years, under orders of Caroline Jorand. The building was again described in ads as Edgewood Lodge and items up for grabs included dining room and drawing room suites, an upholstered couch, carpets, rugs, and linoleum.


In the 1914 directory, Curtis W. Lester, a nephew to Joseph Patrick, was listed as residing at 917 Edgewood. In 1915, Curtis is shown at 923 Edgewood and his father John B. Lester is at 917 Edgewood. Safe to say the latter was still in the family.

Following all of the prominent people mentioned above, we now get to a much lesser known but even more significant figure in this building’s history.


Esther Ashcroft was born in Atherton, Lancashire, England around 1863 to James Ashcroft and Esther Leather and was raised in nearby Tyldesley.


On April 14, 1886, Esther married grocer Frank William Lane in Bolton. Their son, James, was apparently born four days after the wedding. Daughters Henrietta and Margaret followed in 1893 and 1895 respectively. Margaret died in 1900, although I don’t know the cause.


By 1906, Esther had either separated from her husband or he had died, and she married a carpenter 19 years her junior named Thomas Quinlan. That year they immigrated to Canada with Henrietta, while James stayed behind in England.


While they reportedly went directly to Nelson, our first sign of Esther there is in 1909 when she was running a private maternity hospital. Had she previously worked as a nurse or midwife in England? We don’t know.


The Daily News of Sept. 22 reported: “Born, Sept. 21, at the residence of Nurse Quinlan, Hall Mines road, to the wife of I.W. Ford, Proctor [sic], a son.”


Two more such births were mentioned in the Daily News of Jan. 11, 1911:

Born, on Jan. 9, at the residence of Nurse Quinlan, to the wife of S. Walker, Castlegar, a daughter.
Born, on Jan. 10, at the residence of Nurse Quinlan, Hall Mines road, to the wife of D. McLeod, Stanley street, a daughter.

On the 1911 census, we find Thomas, Esther, and Henrietta living on Hall Mines Road. Although Thomas’ place of employment is listed, it is illegible. Curiously, no occupation is listed for Esther. Also curiously, she gave her birthdate as 1873 rather than 1863, perhaps to minimize the age gap with her husband.


Thomas died sometime in the next year or two, for the 1913 civic directory listed Esther as his widow, but the circumstances and location of his death are unknown. There is no sign of it in BC, at any rate. The following year Esther moved to 412 Falls St. and established what she called the Home Private Hospital.


There doesn’t appear to have been any relationship between this institution and an earlier Home Hospital on Water Street (now Front Street), established in 1902 and absorbed by Kootenay Lake Hospital in 1910. They just had similar names, which has understandably confused some historians.


By 1914, Esther met her third husband-to-be, Thomas Moore, and began calling herself Mrs. Moore before they were actually married.

Left, the first ad for the Home Private Hospital, Nelson Daily News, Aug. 11, 1914. Right, another ad from July 7, 1917.


Esther and Thomas made it official on Jan. 9, 1915 when they wed at St. Mark’s Anglican Church in Kaslo, but it’s not clear why they chose that venue. On the marriage registration Thomas, 49, listed himself as a bachelor, gave his profession as engineer and his birthplace as Simcoe, Ont. Esther correctly said she was 51.


I imagine one of the two women seen in the photo at the top of this page and in detail below is Esther Moore, although I don’t know which. Also note the sign that reads “Home Private Hospital, Licensed by the Provincial Government.”

The hospital was once again mainly for maternity patients. Given that this was probably the building’s best known use, I was surprised to learn the hospital was only there for about eight years.


But that was long enough for many people to enter the world, including Henry Stevenson on April 12, 1916. His birth notice two days later just said: “Born, on April 12 to Mr. and Mrs. Stevenson, of Nelson, a son.”


Stevenson became a well-known Nelson machinist, aviator, and historian. He died in 2015, age 99. But first he had to survive the Spanish flu, returning to the hospital of his birth for treatment. His younger brother Frank wasn’t as lucky; he died at nine months.


I’ve found 16 other births there, although I am sure there were many more.

Annie Churches provided a testimonial published in the Daily News on July 7, 1917:


In 1917, the fire department was called to the building due to a defective chimney flue, which, according to the Daily News, “belched smoke in an alarming manner and caused the proprietress to imagine that a conflagration was in process.”


The 1921 census found Esther Moore, 58, at the Falls Street home with nurse Ada Gethings, 20. There was no sign of Thomas Moore, although we know he was still alive and still married to Esther.


Around March 1922, the hospital moved — to 917 Edgewood Ave.! So the relationship between the two properties continued. The Patricks lived in both places, Edgewood Place was in both places, and the Home Private Hospital was in both places.


Art Joyce noted in his book A Perfect Childhood: One Hundred Years of Heritage Homes in Nelson:

There is a curious gap in the records of ownership of [917 Edgewood] between 1910 and 1922 when ‘Esther Moore, matron’ shows up in period directories as operating a government-licensed private hospital there … Gossip has it that babies in the hospital are calmed by a blend of ‘gripe water’ made of diluted brandy.

I have found three births so far at the new location:


• On March 29, 1922, a daughter was born (“at the Home Private hospital’s new residence, Edgewood avenue”) to Mr. and Mrs. R. Smillie.

• On July 20, 1922, a daughter was born to Mr. and Mrs. E.J. Davis.

• On Jan. 3, 1924, a daughter was born to Mr. and Mrs. C. Austin of Castlegar.


Esther Moore continued to run the hospital there through 1927, then moved to Vancouver and started another Home Private Hospital at Yukon and 12th streets.


On July 8, 1931, Agnes Littlejohn, 23, came to the hospital. She was subsequently taken to Vancouver General Hospital, where she died. A coroner’s jury returned a verdict of “death as a result of an illegal operation,” based on Agnes’s death-bed statements that Mrs. Moore had performed an abortion on her.


Agnes’ fiance, Douglas Orr, 23, was arrested on a “statutory charge” and released on $3,000 bail while Mrs. Moore was charged with murder — later reduced to manslaughter. She was released on $10,000 bail.

Vancouver Sun, Sept. 30, 1931


Esther could afford top-notch legal counsel. Her lawyer, Royal Maitland, was then MLA for Vancouver and went on to become deputy premier and attorney general in the coalition government of John Hart.


When the case came to trial, Orr testified that he gave Mrs. Moore $35 to “fix up the girl.” Esther, testifying in her own defence, denied the statement and swore she was unaware that Littlejohn was pregnant until she had to be taken to the general hospital.


The jury deliberated for about an hour and a half before deciding to acquit. The Crown then entered a stay of proceedings against Orr.


After that, we don’t have a lot of specifics about Esther’s life, but she apparently took up mining in the Cariboo. In the spring of 1942, she was involved in a company that planned to work ground on the Fraser River four miles north of Quesnel. She made her home at the mining camp, but became sick and was taken to Quesnel General Hospital, where she died on July 20 at age 79.


Her husband was in Vancouver at the time of her death, but arrived in Quesnel in time for the funeral. She was buried in the local cemetery, where there is a grave marker simply labelled “Moore” that might be hers.

Thomas Moore died in Burnaby in 1945, age 78, and was buried in Ocean View Burial Park. Esther’s daughter Henrietta married William James Brodie in Nelson in 1915 and they had two daughters, Isabelle Helen, born in 1917, and Thomasie Elaine, previously mentioned, in 1919.


William Brodie died in 1958 and Henrietta then married Lawrence Barrett, who died in 1972. Henrietta died in 1976 in Nelson and is buried in the local cemetery. Of Henrietta’s daughters, Isabelle married J. Ferris Smith in 1937 and died in Nelson in 1988. Thomasie married Thomas Stenson in Nelson, also in 1937, and then George Szabolcsi. She died in Victoria in 1993.


Esther’s son James married Margaret Kathleen Toole in 1912 and they appear to have come to Canada the same year. He died in Vancouver in 1950, age 63, survived by his wife and three sons.

Back at 412 Falls, after the Home Private Hospital moved out, the building became the headquarters of the Nelson Business College from 1922 to 1925. The address was given in the civic directories as 42 Falls, which must have been a typo.


But in any case, we know it was the same building, because the late Dawn Penniket said so in her column in the Nelson Daily News of Jan. 18, 2000. She noted the college started in 1915 in the Burns Block. A friend of hers graduated from the school in 1920 “and continued on the staff as a teacher when Mr. [C.W.] Tyler moved the college to what was once the Petty apartments, which had also served as an early maternity hospital …”


In 1925, a contract was awarded for a new building at the foot of Baker Street to house the college — now the Duke Hyssop Labour Centre.

Former Nelson MLA Kenneth Campbell bought 412 Falls in 1925. Until now, despite its many tenants and uses, the property had always appeared on the tax assessments as belonging to either Barbara A. Robertson, or “Executor of J. Roderick Robertson” or “J. Roderick Robertson (estate).”


Barbara died in 1921, but continued to show up in the tax ledgers through 1924. Finally, the properties in Block 87 were acquired by the City of Nelson, presumably for non-payment of taxes, and then resold.


Campbell was issued a plumbing permit on June 26, 1925 to add new fixtures. (Oddly, Mrs. Moore never made any plumbing alterations, at least none that required or resulted in a permit.) Campbell was listed in the civic directory as residing there in 1926.


Campbell resigned as MLA in 1924 so that Premier John Oliver, who lost his Victoria seat in the general election that year, could run in a by-election. Nelson was considered a safe seat. Oliver’s sister Emma and brother-in-law John Bell also lived there.


Campbell (seen here in The Vancouver Sun of July 17, 1924) was rewarded for his loyalty with a beer parlour license for the Pinehurst Inn at South Slocan. He was in the midst of selling the inn when it burned down in 1927. Campbell then moved to Vancouver where he ran a number of other hotels and beer parlours.

In 1927, 412 Falls became the reincarnated Nelson Club, a gentlemen’s social organization that originally existed on the northeast corner of Silica and Kootenay streets from about 1896 to 1925.


The late Ron Welwood wrote a history of the club for BC Historical News in 1992. But he was puzzled by the photo (seen below) taken by George Meeres, held by Touchstones Nelson, and showing a group of dapper men with the caption: “Nelson Club and members of Travellers’ Association, Sept. 7, 1929.”

From left, Pritchard, Shroeder, Bradley, Hannon, Gibbon, McCandlish, Wheeler, Baker, Miller, Marsden, unknown, Poole, Lundale and Larsen. Courtesy Shawn Lamb Archives/Touchstones Nelson


Welwood didn’t recognize the building — it wasn’t the one at Silica and Kootenay — and he thought the club was out of business by then. But it turns out the photo shows 412 Falls. (Well, maybe it does. The veranda does not look quite right.)


Civic directories from 1927 to 1929 showed A. Henry Blundell as club secretary. He was issued plumbing permits to add fixtures in 1927 and 1928, but is not shown as the owner of the house until the 1929 tax assessment. In 1930 and 1931, the club’s address was given in the civic directory as 210 Falls, which was probably a typo, since there is no 200 block of that street.

By 1930, George and Dacy Petty bought the building with plans to turn it into what soon became known as the Petty Apartments. George was an old-time Slocan miner, who owned the Monitor at Three Forks, the Victor near Sandon, and the Bachelor group among other properties.


George died at year’s end at age 70, but Dacy received a plumbing permit early in 1931 to add fixtures and make alterations. Dacy was issued subsequent permits in 1935, 1936, and 1939. Each time the house’s legal description was shown a little differently. While the block number remained 87, the lot numbers were shown variously as 7-8, 7-9, and (probably by mistake) 5-6.


Here’s the building as seen on the fire insurance plan of August 1938, showing that since 1899 an addition had been built on the west side and the porch expanded. By 1935, Lots 7-9 had been subdivided so that Dacy Petty owned the north 65 feet and Herb Harrop the south 55 feet, on which he built a two-storey garage, making the home less visible from Baker Street.

Longtime Sandon resident Gene Petersen told author Moira Farrow about Dacy for her 1975 book Nobody Here But Us. He said she was a “very tough woman, six feet tall, and as capable of digging pits as her husband.”

She used to come to town in britches and high boots with a big pack sale. She was always potting bears — she wasn’t afraid of them at all.

One day George fell ill with heatstroke, and while he recuperated, Dacy kept working on a prospect and found the first trace of ore in the Victor mine. After George died, Dacy leased out their mines, including the Victor to Ernest Doney, who did well.


The Victor was purchased in 1948 by Viola MacMillan, who discovered a rich galena vein that eluded Doney. Renamed the Violamac, it became very profitable indeed. When production peaked in 1953, smelter returns came to $1.4 million — the equivalent of $13.2 million today.


Jack and Grace Whitfield, a couple who met in the air force during the war and moved into a second floor suite in 1946, recalled Dacy as a mysterious figure, seldom seen by tenants. Dacy moved out about six months after the Whitfields arrived, allowing them to relocate to her larger suite on the ground floor.


By the time Dacy died in 1947, the building’s address had been changed for some reason from 412 Falls to 414 Falls. Here’s her obituary from the Vancouver Province.

(The obituary gave the wrong year of her husband’s death and erroneously said that she had only lived in Nelson for 12 years, when she’d been there at least 17 or 18.)


The Whitfields raised a daughter and a son in the building, who were born in 1947 and 1950 respectively. Another couple, John and Helen Gentles, moved in to an upstairs suite in 1949, paying $28 per month in rent — an exceptionally good deal. (It was the equivalent of about $380 today.) Their son Douglas, born in 1949, loved to watch trains go by. Just to be safe, John nailed the window shut to prevent his son from falling out.


After Dacy Petty’s death, rents were paid to Horace Kay, a reclusive caretaker in his 50s who lived in a tiny apartment near the furnace room in the basement.

414 Falls is seen the background of this ad for Bill DeFoe’s Super Service in the Nelson Daily News of Jan. 27, 1951.


414 Falls was put up for sale in 1957. The civic directory for that year listed electrical contractor Frank DiBella as the owner. He and wife Edith had lived in the building for at least a couple of years. A classified ad in the Province described it as “five self contained apartments with one housekeeping room … Revenue $335 monthly.” A sixth unit was added in the late 1950s.


While it was primarily residential from then on, there were some businesses in it as well. In the early 1980s, it was home to the Blue Moon Art Gallery. The 1984 civic directory lists Jaguar Construction and Ella’s Rock Shop there.

The building seen in a 1992 photograph by Henry Stevenson, who was born there.


Michael Pratt bought the house in 1992 and began extensive renovations to bring the home up to code and improve its appearance. Most of the bannister in the front hall had been covered or removed. But the handrail was discovered in the attic. New spindles and a newel were created for the upper portion. Asphalt shingles covering the exterior were partly removed and the original siding repainted.


As Pratt turned the attic into another suite, he made some other interesting discoveries: a February 1899 issue of The Protestant Girl; a partial map on linen of the Hoover Addition to Nelson; a bottle cap with cork liner bearing the Nelson Brewing Company logo; an undated Christmas card of a girl in Victorian dress; and another postcard addressed to John Gentles in 1950, announcing an upcoming Clan McCleary meeting.


The building was still known as the Petty Apartments, more than 50 years after Dacy Petty’s death. But in 1999, it was rechristened the Robertson House, in recognition of its original occupants. It remains an apartment building. It was suggested for inclusion on the city’s heritage register in 2011, but a statement of significance was not written until 2020.


Gwen Bentley, who died in 2013, was one of the longest-term tenants, dubbed the “house mother” by Michael Pratt.


To summarize the occupants/functions of 412/414 Falls:


1898-1902: Roderick and Barbara Ann Robertson and family

1902-04: Samuel S. and Frances Fowler

1905-08: George and Margaret Barnhart and family

1908-09: Joseph and Grace Patrick and family

1910-12: Frank and Margaret Fletcher and family

1912-13: Edgewood Place, Caroline Jorand, manager

1914-22: Home Private Hospital, Esther Moore, matron

1922-25: Nelson Business College, C.W. Tyler, principal

1925-27: Kenneth Campbell and family

1927-30: Nelson Club, A. Henry Blundell, secretary

1931-47: Petty Apartments, Dacy Petty, manager

1947-99: Petty Apartments, various

1999-present: The Robertson House


— With thanks to Ron and Frances Welwood

Updated on Feb. 9, 2020 to add the birth of Gladys Towner. Updated on Feb. 14, 2020 to add the change of name to The Robertson House, Frank Di Bella’s ownership in 1957, and more current pictures. Updated on Feb. 17, 2020 to add the ca. 1914-22 photo of the home from Touchstones. Updated on March 10, 2020 to add more births in the Home Private Hospital and to narrow the gap of when the Petty Apartments became The Robertson House. Updated on June 18, 2020 to add another photo from Touchstones, to clarify that Barbara Robertson owned the house from 1898-1925, and to add details from the statement of significance and a two-part series Art Joyce wrote about the house in the Nelson Daily News of Jan. 30 and Feb. 6, 1998. Updated on Oct. 27, 2020 to add Gene Petersen’s comments about Dacy Petty. Updated on Jan. 9, 2022 to add the 1992 photo of the building. Updated on Dec. 30, 2022 to add much more about Esther Moore. Updated on Feb. 13, 2024 to add the photo from the 1951 newspaper ad.

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