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Gryphon Gallery: Original Norfolk House

Gryphon Gallery
1164 Oscar Street

Where Was The Original Site of Norfolk House School in September 1913?

Photos of 1164 Oscar Street and what presently stands where 1164 Oscar Street was.

This has been an unresolved question, but there is evidence to strongly suggest that the original site at the time of the Foundation Date was 1164 Oscar Street.

 September 10, 1913 is the date which has been agreed as the Foundation Date for Norfolk House School. It is the date upon which the name appears for the first time in the Attendance Registers, the only contemporary records known to exist.

The location of where that beginning happened however, has remained somewhat of a mystery. The Christ Church Cathedral Sunday School Building at 914 Quadra was certainly used by Norfolk House School’s first Headmistress, Julia McDermott, as a teaching facility thanks to the connection with and courtesy of Dean Alexander John Doull. This would be sometime after her arrival in Victoria earlier in the year and most likely prior to September 1913.  Although it has been named as the location in which NHS was believed to have its official start, a letter from a former student of the time, suggests that there was a move to 1164 Oscar Street for or even prior to the September date. Following up on that possibility, further research becomes necessary.

According to Henderson’s Victoria City Directory 1913, 1164 Oscar Street was still registered to Harris B. Prentiss, but this doesn’t preclude the owner renting it out to McDermott for September 1913. The 1914 Directory does list Julia McDermott, Principal, Norfolk House School as the occupant. It is worth noting that Directory information was normally collected in the fall of the year previous to publication. Therefore to state that 1164 Oscar Street was occupied by Julia McDermott in 1914 was actually determined in the fall of 1913 and that Harris B. Prentiss was, in fact, determined to be the owner in the fall of 1912. This means that it would have been quite possible that Norfolk House School was originally housed at 1164 Oscar on September 10, 1913, and unless contrary evidence appears in the future, it should be recorded as such. For the record, Henderson’s Directory for 1915 names Julia McDermott residing at 1950 Granite Street, which means by the fall of 1914 she would have moved the school from Oscar Street to Granite Street in Oak Bay. Together with additional buildings on Amphion Street and Transit, this remained part of the collection of NHS school sites until the move to Pemberton Woods in 1932.