Here’s a somewhat battered house on Comox Street in the West End in 1968. Our image is from the MLS listing which offered the house for $62,000, although the listing suggests ‘Try all reasonable offers’ as the building ‘Should be sold as apartment site only’. It was heading towards demolition as the West End saw ramped up densities and rental and condominium towers replacing older housing.
We know who built the house – it was E R Squair who designed and built it in 1912 at a cost of $1,000 for Mr Koenigsberg. Ernest R Squair only seems to have been in the city for a few years, and 1728 Comox was one of his first works as a contractor. Squair designed and built a number of houses in the city, although this is the only one we know of in the West End. Ernest was born in London, emigrated to New Brunswick in 1907 and died in Victoria in 1962 at the age of 86.
His client was Maurice Koenigsberg, manager and presumably proprietor of the Koenigsberg Jewelery Co who were wholesalers and manufacturers of jewelery on West Cordova Street. He must have been doing well in business; in 1911 he was living on Thurlow Street aged 35 with his 22 year old wife Etta and three month old daughter Ruthlene. Both Maurice and Etta were from American Jewish families, Maurice was from St Paul, Minnesota although Etta had been born in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Etta died young, aged 49 in 1937 and Maurice died in 1948.
Today the site is the relatively huge private gardens of a 19 storey condo tower, the Sandpiper, built in 1976 by Daon Developments. The tower’s architect was Jim White, a long-time architect with Thompson Berwick Pratt and Partners. Over twenty years earlier White had designed the Dal Grauer Substation on Burrard Street with Ned Pratt.