Built in 1889, the Palace Hotel is a very good example of the Italianate style, one of the most popular nineteenth century architectural styles in North America. The Palace Hotel was one of the earliest of the new type of hotels that was built during this era. It’s marks the beginning of a transition from the City’s early rough, pioneer type architecture to a more refined and elegant style. Although there have been numerous renovations over the years, the building retains much of its original character.
The Palace Hotel represents the economic boom that was generated by the completion of the Esquimalt and Nanaimo Railway and the expansion of the No. 1 Coal Mine in the 1880s. This handsome, ornate brick building speaks to the mood of prosperity and possibility prevalent at the time.
The Palace Hotel represents the social importance of hotels in Nanaimo history. Like most mining communities, early Nanaimo had a large population of single, often transient, men. As affordable housing alternatives, hotels functioned as living quarters and, in the saloons and restaurants typically located on the ground floor, as social centers.
The value of the Palace Hotel lies in location at the bend of a curvilinear, narrow lane that intersects with the main downtown thoroughfare. The view to the Palace Hotel is framed by landmark historic structures on the main street. The hotel itself partially closes the vista from the main street and acts to create a feeling of intimacy and seclusion.