The Swallowed Anchor, which is nautical lingo meaning to retire from a life of sailing* was built around 1912 and has served as a local tourist attraction for years. Tourists still snap photos, even though the house is in rough shape—and what’s left of the art—a stork with a bundle in its bill, a pirate with telescope and a parrot, King Neptune, a ship’s cannon, and a mermaid are rapidly deteriorating.
John Keziere is the guy behind the art. A carpenter, he owned rental property around Victoria, and when his wife died in the 1970s he decided to move into the Head Street house. Keziere, who was as eccentric as his house, used to dress up as a mermaid costume, row out to a rock in the Inner Harbour and wave at competitors in the annual Swiftsure yacht race.
He died in 1999 and the property sold to Westbay Investments. In November 2010, Mark Lindholm, development manager, told me that the plan was to demolish the house, but save the art and incorporate it into a park—part of a commercial and residential development, anchored with a 10-storey building that would replace Keziere’s house.
Normally that would be the end of the old house, but Carole is a heritage junky, and her hope is that artists and other community members will rally around and help with the restoration. She knows exactly what she’s in for—she’s already been through a massive renovation with her own home, the Steamboat Gothic house a few blocks away.
Carole’s house was built by Captain Victor Jacobsen for his wife Minnie in 1893. The house was built from a pattern book, but Jacobsen, who made his money from seal pelts, added his own touches, decorating their home with floral trim, seabirds, anchors and nautical knots and rope work. The house was saved from the bulldozers in the 1960s by Marguerite and Gilbert Laurenson.