A century of history goes up in smoke at infamous Victoria hotel
The former Century Inn is pictured in an undated photo. (Glen Mofford)
Published Monday, May 6, 2019 2:38PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, May 6, 2019 6:59PM PDT
More than a century of memories have been made at the corner of Government Street and Pandora Avenue. It's only now, as Victoria's former Plaza Hotel burns that names like "the Persian Room" and "the Bucking Bronc" are re-surfacing. There are many more.
In the late 1960s long-time islander Bill Gaetz recalls taking his wife to the hotel every Friday and Saturday night to go dancing. But it wasn't called the Plaza.
The Persian Room, a popular bar inside the Century Inn. (Glen Mofford)
Since opening its doors in 1911 as the Westholme Hotel, the business on the corner has gone through several name changes.
When Gaetz and his wife were ballroom dancing on the "postage-stamp dance floor," it was called the Century Inn.
"There was just an atmosphere about it," he says.
In November 1965, the Century Inn's three-day gala opening featured women in revealing clothing walking around the lobby with trays of food and drink, recalls historian Glen Mofford.
"When it opened in 1965 it was popular, it was the go-to place," he says. "Centennial Square had just finished being renovated so it was hand-in-hand with the hotel. That's why it was called the Century Inn because of Victoria's 100 years."
Mofford says there was even a minitaure replica of the Centennial Square fountain in the hotel's lobby.
In 1974 the first strip clubs opened in Victoria, paving the way for Monty's Showroom Pub to open in November 1984. The owner spared no expense tranforming the beer parlour known as the Centurion into the adult entertainment lounge.
"When Monty's was first constructed it was really popular, then the novelty wore off," he says.
At one point the the building had a cowboy-themed bar called the Bucking Bronc, complete with a mechanical bull. For many years the Century Inn included a popular bar called the Persian Room.
In 1988, after undergoing several name changes, the hotel became the Victoria Plaza Hotel after being called the Century Inn and the Century Plaza.
Although the derelict hotel has sat vacant and poised for re-development for years, Mofford hopes the building's rich history isn't overshadowed or forgotten.
"The history of the place was not always a dump, it was really popular. A lot of people met their husbands and wives and partners there."