3125 Uplands Road
Valrose consists of a two and one-half storey mansion named Valrose and associated grounds in the Uplands residential district.
The Cross family home, Valrose, is important as part of the social and architectural development of Oak Bay’s Uplands district. This property was one of the original 12 homes built in the first phase of the Uplands development prior to WWI. Valrose is part of a distinct subdivision designed by North America's leading landscape architect, John Charles Olmsted. Olmsted's vision was to design the Uplands subdivision as a “residential park” to harmonize with the natural environment. Valrose is an example of the exceptional skills of local building contractor Peter McKechnie who worked for Uplands Limited under the nominal supervision of company architect Francis Mawson Rattenbury.
This home is important to Oak Bay in its association with William Herber Cross who established himself as a rancher and owner of the Calgary Brewing Company. W. H. Cross was the son of William Alexander Cross who owned much of Mont Royal in Montreal. Cross was a principle member of the Foncier Group, a French Syndicate, which conceived and financed the Uplands development on the former Hudson’s Bay Company Uplands Farm. It is notable that W. H. Cross, of Scottish descent and influential in Canadian economic development, chose to build this grand home and retire in the Uplands. Built for the Cross family in 1915, Valrose is also important as home to his sister Yvette Germaine Cross and her husband William Jacobus Semeyn, a prominent Victoria architect. They were married in the late 1930s and lived in the home until the death of W.. J. Semeyn in 1952. Also important is the association of the home with Ronald McKenzie, a successful entrepreneur and active in city politics, who purchased the home in 1971. He was a City of Victoria alderman, and occasionally acting mayor, for 6 years from 1975 to 1981. It is notable that his daughter, Roxana Simons, has continued to own the home since 1993.
The architectural values of Valrose are associated with its unique Georgian Revival symmetrical design enriched with classical detail and distinctive exterior brick cladding. The grand scale of the building combined with the quality of both exterior and interior finishing exemplifies the social status of the wealthy Cross family.
The following information is a repeat from the statement of significance on Bolgreggan at 3000 Rutland Road, and will be part of the statement of significance on the Uplands district. One of only 12 homes (plus the Yacht Club) built in the pre war phase of the Uplands development - a distinct subdivision designed by North America’s leading landscape architect, John Charles Olmsted (son of the foremost American landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted) - Valrose helped to set a high standard for the subsequent development of Uplands’ residential architecture. The property is also important as part of the Hudson’s Bay Company Uplands Farm, which was substantially subdivided leading up to the pre-war building boom in Oak Bay. An option to purchase the land from the HBC was taken out in 1907 by a syndicate headed by William Hicks Gardner.
- The location of the site at the corner of Landsdowne and Uplands roads.
- Symmetrical Georgian Revival design with balanced alignment of windows and doors, main entrance side lights, and terrace French doors.
- French Renaissance Revival detailing, found in the cube-shape massing, and the balustrades of garden terrace and porte-cochere roofline.
- Low pitched hip roof with symmetrically placed gables, dormers and chimneys.
- Intact floor plan (except for the kitchen).
- Authentic (historic) interior detailing, such as the fir trim and wainscoting with original finishes, oak flooring, marble fireplaces, architectural hardware and light fixtures.
- Mature oak and cherry trees on the property.