Here’s another Granville Street Building that’s been swallowed up by a much bigger project – in this case the Pacific Centre Mall. We thought initially that the building dated from 1910. The street directory tells us it’s the Bell Irving Block and there’s a drawing in the Archives identified as a 1910 Granville Street building whose architects are Dalton and Eveleigh. Henry Bell-Irving was a very successful businessman who had arrived in the city in 1885 and used his training as an engineer to design several of the early buildings soon after the fire destroyed the new city. He shipped the first canned salmon to the UK, and also ran an insurance company among many business interests. He designed the first Bell-Irving block at Cordova and Richards in 1888. Thanks to Heritage Vancouver we now know that this building dates to 1905, and most likely was also a Bell-Irving design, costing $20,000. The 1910 Bell-Irving building was probably on Richards Street.
The retail tenants here were a series of stationers, first Norman Caple and Co, then the Odlum Stationery Company and later the Gaskell Stationery Company. In 1906 the Province newspaper reported “another $20,000 is being expended on the upper stories of this building in the fitting of up modern housekeeping suites” and in 1908 eight tenants are listed, two of them doctors. By the early 1930s the Great Northern Railway had moved their offices in, and they were still there a decade later. The City of Vancouver in an unusual move in this city expropriated the property to assemble the block to permit the construction of the Pacific Centre Mall.
The earlier iteration of the mall was dark and had a limited relationship to the street. A recent renovation for new tenant H&M saw the street presence brightened up and new display windows installed. The heavy canopies were replaced with glazed weather protection, which will soon be repeated on The Bay across the street.