A look inside: Historic prison buildings in New Westminster listed for $15 million (PHOTOS)

Mar 3 2021, 4:40 pm

There is an opportunity to own a piece of the province’s early history in New Westminster, specifically two of the most prominent buildings of the original British Columbia Penitentiary.

These buildings comprise just a small portion of the former prison’s riverfront site on the eastern side of the city. Both buildings are listed separately by Sutton Centre Realty but have a combined asking price of about $15 million.

The Gaol Building, serving as the Main Hall and hospital of the now largely demolished prison complex, at 65 Richmond Street in the Sapperton area, was constructed in 1877 after major unexpected delays that slowed construction and set back completion. It was the first federal penitentiary west of Manitoba.

According to New Westminster Public Library, it had just 23 occupants when it opened the following year, and it operated until 1980, when the federal penitentiary was phased out in favour of smaller, modern prisons.

Over the past few decades since the decommissioning of the facility, other buildings on the prison grounds have been demolished for a residential neighbourhood with nearly 1,000 homes.

65 richmond street gaol building

Location of the Gaol Building at 65 Richmond Street and the former British Columbia Penitentiary area in New Westminster. (Google Maps)

65 Richmond Street New Westminster Jailhouse Gaol Building

The Gaol Building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 65 Richmond Street in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

65 Richmond Street New Westminster Jailhouse Gaol Building

The Gaol Building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 65 Richmond Street in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

The three-storey Goal Building stands out for its use of heavy stone and mansard roof, and is classified as a heritage building.

According to a listing, the updated interior — complete with mechanical, electrical, and fire sprinkler upgrades — is now purposed as about 15,000 sq. ft. of office space. It is fully leased with long-term and “good standing” tenants, including New West Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Centre.

65 Richmond Street New Westminster Jailhouse Gaol Building

The Gaol Building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 65 Richmond Street in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

65 Richmond Street New Westminster Jailhouse Gaol Building

The Gaol Building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 65 Richmond Street in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

There are 40 surface vehicle parking stalls on the 1.2-acre lot, which offers new infill development opportunities.

This commercial property has been listed for $8.95 million, nearly twice the latest assessed value of $4.5 million, with $4.1 million from the land and $400,000 from the structure.

65 Richmond Street New Westminster Jailhouse Gaol Building

The Gaol Building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 65 Richmond Street in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

65 Richmond Street New Westminster Jailhouse Gaol Building

The Gaol Building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 65 Richmond Street in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

65 Richmond Street New Westminster Jailhouse Gaol Building

The Gaol Building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 65 Richmond Street in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

The handful of prison structures that were retained include not only the Gaol Building but also the stately Gatehouse with its twin towers, a corner guard house, a commemorative cairn, and Royal Engineers survey monument.

The Gatehouse, located at 319 Governors Court, is separately listed for $5.95 million.

319 governors court new westminster gatehouse bc penitentiary

The Gatehouse building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 319 Governors Court in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

319 governors court new westminster gatehouse bc penitentiary

The Gatehouse building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 319 Governors Court in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

319 governors court new westminster gatehouse bc penitentiary

The Gatehouse building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 319 Governors Court in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

Also designated as a heritage building, according to the public library, the Gatehouse resembles a fortress-like castle, and is currently used as a neighbourhood hub. It is occupied by Sunshine Montessori Daycare and Preschool, and the aptly named Royal Crown Castle restaurant and pub.

The Gatehouse earned its name for being the main entrance into the high stone-walled penitentiary enclosure.


For vintage photos and more information of the former BC Penitentiary, click here.

319 governors court new westminster gatehouse bc penitentiary

The Gatehouse building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 319 Governors Court in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

319 governors court new westminster gatehouse bc penitentiary

The Gatehouse building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 319 Governors Court in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

319 governors court new westminster gatehouse bc penitentiary

The Gatehouse building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 319 Governors Court in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

319 governors court new westminster gatehouse bc penitentiary

The Gatehouse building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 319 Governors Court in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

319 governors court new westminster gatehouse bc penitentiary

The Gatehouse building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 319 Governors Court in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

319 governors court new westminster gatehouse bc penitentiary

The Gatehouse building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 319 Governors Court in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

319 governors court new westminster gatehouse bc penitentiary

The Gatehouse building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 319 Governors Court in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

319 governors court new westminster gatehouse bc penitentiary

The Gatehouse building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 319 Governors Court in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

319 governors court new westminster gatehouse bc penitentiary

The Gatehouse building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 319 Governors Court in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

319 governors court new westminster gatehouse bc penitentiary

The Gatehouse building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 319 Governors Court in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

319 governors court new westminster gatehouse bc penitentiary

The Gatehouse building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 319 Governors Court in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

319 governors court new westminster gatehouse bc penitentiary

The Gatehouse building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 319 Governors Court in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

319 governors court new westminster gatehouse bc penitentiary

The Gatehouse building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 319 Governors Court in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

319 governors court new westminster gatehouse bc penitentiary

The Gatehouse building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 319 Governors Court in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

319 governors court new westminster gatehouse bc penitentiary

The Gatehouse building of the former British Columbia Penitentiary at 319 Governors Court in New Westminster. (Sutton Centre Realty)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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