Archive for the ‘Still Standing’ Category
We don’t know who designed the Golden Gate Hotel (on the corner of Drake Street) but the possible architects are on a relatively short list, as it dates back to 1889, making it around the same age as the Yale Hotel a block away. In fact it’s slightly older than the Yale (which was then called the Colonial Hotel), as it was connected to the water system in March, while the Colonial wasn’t hooked up until July.
The Colonial Hotel and the Golden Gate first appear in the 1889 Directory and the Colonial was designed by N S Hoffar (as was 1286 Granville nearby) so he may have designed this building as well.
O S Bergland is listed as proprietor of the Golden Gate in 1889, (offering First Class Board, Pool and Billiards) although in 1890 and 1895 F G Twigg is the listed proprietor (and the building is also called the Holman Block for some of this period). In 1894 Captain Tatlow had addressed a friendly crowd in the hotel in support of the government. In 1896 it’s listed as being vacant, and there’s no sign of it in the 1897 Directory either. This may have been connected with a pair of unfortunate incidents recorded in the Times Colonist. On the left you can read how Mr Twigg lost $265 and a gold watch when he was held up as he was stabling his horse.
To add insult to injury, two days later his horse and buggy were stolen. Note the somewhat random use of initials in the 19th century press.
In 1898 and 1899 the Golden Gate Hotel is back in business, McHugh and Kelly, proprietors. From 1899 to 1904 Samuel J Teese, an Irishman who had arrived in Canada in 1881 is back running the hotel. In 1901 the Census shows us there were a number of boarders - four Americans including two carpenters and a car repairer, another car repairer from Cape Breton, a carpenter from Ontario, a barber from Ontario and a fireman, also from Ontario and a labourer from Nova Scotia. (we assume the car repairers worked at the CPR yards nearby – many earlier tenants of the hotel were CPR employees too). William Hinson was the cook and Anne Vincent the waitress.
By 1905 the hotel’ proprietor changed again to George Mottishaw, and in 1906 Quintin Trotter bought the hotel. A native of Bobcaygeon in Ontario, Mr Trotter took 3 months to remodel it (he was a skilled carpenter having worked at the sash and door works and on fitting out the Princess Victoria). Mr Trotter renamed it the Tourist Hotel and sold it to George Trorey in 1908, who retained ownership to at least 1941.
In 1908 the Tourist cafe was listed – but the hotel was not mentioned. In 1909 the Tourist Hotel has Montagu Gladwin as the barman along with James McIsaac, Phillip Hacquoil was listed as proprietor and only 2 boarders were mentioned. In 1911 and 1912 J Montgomery Reeves is listed as proprietor, but we know the hotel was owned by G E Trorey, who used W H Pawson to design alterations in 1911 carried out by Western Sheet Metal Works. George Trorey was a wealthy jeweller who had his own company which he had sold to Henry Birks, becoming Birks’ General Manager. Presumably the hotel was an investment and the various ‘proprietors’ listed in the directories carried out the day-to-day management of the hotel and bar.
Staff changed frequently and comprehensively: in 1911 Clyde Gladwin was the bartender (Montague Gladwin was now at the Yale, a block south) . In 1912 Mr Reeves was still shown as the proprietor, Fred Dunn was the bartender with James McIsaac, Joseph King and Hector Ross clerks, Minnie Donovan and Margaret Elder were waitresses, William Wilson the steward, John Conroy and Jeremiah Maroney, both stonecutters were resident along with John Glasgow a checker with a dairy and William Haley (who worked for the Western Sheet Metal Co) and a fitter and carpenter.
A year later the proprietors were Tony Cianci and Joseph Feren and barmen Ernest Appleton and Thomas Barry had joined James McIsaac. Herbert Carr was clerk, Nellie Reid and Anna Wachholtz were waitresses, J H Simpson who operated the Canadian Film Exchange was the only listed resident. In 1915 there were only two residents, James Wilson and John McNeil, both loggers and Rebecca McNeil was the maid. James McIsaac was still at the bar, joined by John Smith.
By 1920 the building was no longer a hotel; there were 6 apartments as well as Dr Geer and Dr Gibson in the Tourist Block, with the Bank of Nova Scotia occupying the ground floor. That arrangement was still in place in 1925, although the doctors were no longer there. By 1931, when our VPL image was taken, the main floor was listed as vacant, the bank having moved, but all eight apartments were occupied.
Today it has almost the same arrangement – there are eight rental units (self-contained, renovated in 1974) and retail below – these days the Two Parrots Taverna.
The Alhambra Hotel at Maple Tree Square where Carrall and Water Streets meet looks almost identical today to the 1931 photograph on the left. That’s because it’s recently had a comprehensive restoration by Acton Ostry Architects for Salient Developments, who seismically upgraded the building while putting it back to close to original appearance. In the meantime it didn’t look quite as tidy – as this 1968 image shows.
The Byrnes Block, as the Alhambra is also known, was built by Victoria based auctioneer George Byrnes, an Australian who had survived a shipwreck coming from Sydney to San Francisco and then not long afterwards become Sherriff in Barkerville. The hotel was one of the first fireproof buildings to be completed after the 1886 fire destroyed the city. It appears that the intial building commission came from Rand Brothers, real estate promoters, who handed the development to George Byrnes while it was under construction.
The Alhambra sits on the corner where Jack Deighton rebuilt his saloon, once it bacame apparent that his preferred location and the Canadian Pacific Railway survey were at odds – once they’s established their street pattern his first saloon was sitting in the middle of the street intersection.
While other hotels in the area were somewhat basic in their character, the Alhambra was distinctly superior. Each room had a fireplace – as the chimneys still show today. The architect was Elmer Fisher, who moved around from Minneapolis to Denver to Butte, Montana, then completed only two buildings in Vancouver as well as a number on Vancouver Island before heading to Seattle just in time to help rebuild it after the 1889 fire there. His version of his history and documentary records disagree about whether he was Scottish (or more likely American), and he abandoned architecture by the mid 1890s, leaving town after a particularly salacious court case where his former mistress sued him for breach of promise when he got married to a Seattle widow. He won the case, but lost his reputation.
We’ve reposted this building because we’ve just spotted a curious change. Back in 2006 Bob_2006, an avid photographer of Vancouver’s heritage buildings, added a picture of the Alhambra as it looked then. At the time it said the building was dated to 1886. As our image shows, that wasn’t true back in 1931, and giving full credit to Acton Ostry and The Salient Group, it isn’t true today. It just goes to show “I read it on a building so it must be true” isn’t necessarily the case.
In 1929 the brokerage firm of S W Randall Co saw their new office building completed on West Georgia. The design is attributed to R T Perry; it had elements of gothic and some art deco, and a somewhat unusual arrangement of two double bays of windows to the west and a single, slightly offset bay to the east. It bears some resemblance to Townley and Matheson’s Stock Exchange Building, completed a year later, but there are several other buildings by other architects, all taking the same gothic theme, and built around this time.
Sam Randall was born in Ontario in either 1878, 1881 or 1882, (depending which record you believe) and probably arrived in Vancouver in 1914. (One version of his biography says it was 1908, but the 1911 census shows him still in Ontario). He was initially the sales manager of a hardware company, Fittings Ltd, and lived at the St Regis Hotel when he first arrived, but soon found a house on Main Street. By 1920 he had become president of the Canada Pride Range Co, and had a house on W 49th Avenue, and he was still in that same house and holding the same job in 1928. That same year he appears to have established his own brokerage company, having been a member of the Vancouver Stock Exchange before 1927.
Randall’s main passion was horse racing, initially entering the business in 1919. He became the dominant figure during the 35 years he directed the Ascot Jockey Club of Vancouver and the Vancouver Thoroughbred Association. The long-time operator of Exhibition Park, formerly Hastings Park in Vancouver from 1920, he also operated Lansdowne Park on Lulu Island from 1924, and managed the Willows track in Victoria until 1947 and also operated Brighouse Park in Richmond and Colwood on Vancouver Island. Randall was the first Canadian track owner to adopt the photo finish and the first western manager to install an electric starting gate 1939.
This wasn’t his first property development; in 1926 Townley & Matheson had designed a smaller building on Richards Street for him. He sold Lansdowne Park and the Randall Building in 1945, reportedly for a million dollars, to the BC Turf and Country Club, concentrating his efforts on the Hastings course. He retired due to ill health in 1955, and died in 1961.
In 1991 jeweller Toni Cavelti gave the building a comprehensive but completely sensitive upgrade, adding a penthouse floor (set back from the parapet) in the process. The project, designed by Blewett Dodd Ching Lee, gave the building an almost identical appearance to our 1929 image. Only the recently restored mural of medieval goldsmiths on the east side of the building (by Kitty Mykka) in 1993 made the building look any different. In 1999 Cavelti sold his company to Henry Birks who still sell Cavelti designed jewelry, and now Time and Gold operate in the store location.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-3763.
This image was commissioned by City Archivist Major Matthews and was titled by him “The first house on Davie St. as it appeared in Aug. 1931. Vintage print attributed to Rowland J. Towers.”
Elsewhere he noted that in this 1890 picture by W Chapman ”The one at the top is on Davie Street; it is on the skyline. Today it is numbered 1112 and 1114 Davie Street, a three-storey building with balconies on the second and third floors, and stands on the south side of Davie Street, third building from the Capitola Apartments. Two large rowan or mountain ash trees, at least twelve inches through, which shows their age, stand on the lawn. It was built by Mr. Bouchier, who died in the spring of 1931. Walter Leek, president of the Vancouver Exhibition Association, once lived in it.”
A Frenchman, Mr. Bouchier, later employed by the late Senator S.J. Crowe, built it. He died in the spring of 1931.
The assessment roll, at the City Hall, dated 1888 of this property:
F.D. Boucher, Lot 2, Block 25, D.L. 185, (assessed) $275.00
Alfonse Moriw (?), Lot 3, Block 25, D.L. 185, (assessed) $275.00
From the street directories of the 1890s it appears that this may not have been the first occupied house on Davie Street, although it was undoubtedly one of the earliest, and from the picture above it was almost completely isolated. It looks as if it was completed in 1890 but was still vacant in 1891. By 1894 Mr F D Boucher (the correct name) was living there.
Ferdinand Desire Boucher was born in Quebec and arrived in Vancouver in 1885. He was a carpenter, working at the Hastings Mill and in 1898 the Vancouver Sash and Door Company. He married Allia, (or that’s what the name looks like) another Québécois and in 1891 they had May, Gracie and Albertine Labrecque living with them, described as daughters-in-law but probably actually Ferdinand’s step-daughters. The 1901 census calls his wife Mary, and Albertius and Grace (now aged 22 and 24) are still at home.
Remarkably, behind the added retail units of the Cotton Mouth Smoke Shop and Megabite Pizza the original structure gives every suggestion of still standing - one of the oldest building in the West End.
Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Str N63 and CVA 1376-204
We’ve seen this building from a different angle. From this position it’s easy to see how much of the building has ‘disappeared’ from sight today – the street level today is three storeys above the ‘beach level’ below. If you look in the foreground you can see the expansion joints on what are really a series of bridges. If you walk up to the railing you can see in front of the building, you can look down the three floors that are still there.
In 1920 when this image was taken the building was known as the Pacific Coast Fire Building, and was home to a wide variety of companies including the Pacific Coast Fire Insurance Company and Adkinson and Dill, contractors, who had built the Thomas Hooper designed building back in 1911. Greenshields were one of the tenants to get their name on the outside of the building. They had originally built a warehouse for their dry goods company on Water Street in 1902. The most intriguing company here was the Canada Witch Co who were in Room A (B R Harrison was company president), closely followed by B B B Co (Can) Ltd who were in Suite 401 where George Horton was manager. They weren’t the better business bureau, or the Bangkok Beer and Beverage Co, but a wholesale tobacco company.
Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-3307
We’ve written in greater detail about the owner and developer of this building on another blog. Caroline Court is over a century old, being built in 1911 to J P Matheson’s design for James Pattullo by Dominion Construction at a cost of $150,000. It was built as a rental building, and it still fulfills that function today. The context it sits in has changed – the two houses to the north were replaced with a strata building, The Nelson in 1980. The Star Garage, seen in our 1939 VPL Leonard Frank image is these days another strata building, Kelvin Court, built in 1986. The tower beyond that is the rental building developed by St Andrews Wesley in 2002. The other large tower, behind Caroline Court, is the somewhat inaccurately named Heritage Court, dating back to 1971 and designed by Eng and Wright.
In 1931 Dominion Construction built this 3 storey building on Homer Street. It’s a reinforced concrete structure, a technique Dominion were familiar with building. but it was the financial structure of the developer that was novel. While the recession hadn’t really bitten, Dominion’s boss, Charles Bentall, started to use the recently created New Building Finance Company to keep his construction workers employed. General Motors wanted a new building, but they wanted to lease it, and Dominion were the contractors and designers and were prepared to help finance the construction. When the time came, rather than the New Building Finance Company funding it the building ownership was taken on by the Selman family, owners of Canadian Wood Pulp and Tank Limited.
Our photo shows the building a year after construction, and General Motors continued to occupy the building until 1950. They had offices for their finance division as well as their warehouse (presumably for parts). A couple of years later Barr and Anderson, plumbers, moved into the building, and at some point it became known as the Stall Building.
Eighty years on the building looks remarkably similar to when it was built, but the occupants are quite different. Today the tenants, among others, are architects, a book publisher and a computer store. And somehow, (possibly during a 1986 renovation) while almost every building that had a fancy cornice has lost it, the Stall Building managed to acquire one it never had.
Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4156
We now know a bit more about this Yaletown warehouse than has been recorded anywhere else. We know who designed it – it was Raphael A Nicolais, an architect about whom we can find very little information. Sometimes he partnered with Richard Perry, and his name was as often as not recorded as Nicolas, or as Nicholais, although we think it was most accurately (and mostly) written as Nicolais. Unlike some blog subjects, he can be found with his wife and family in the 1911 Census, living in Point Grey on the corner of 3rd Avenue and Trimble. There he was recorded as Ralph A Nikolias, he was only aged 28 and he was born in Italy, arriving in Canada in 1910.
The builder was George Baker, and the owners were Buckley and Baker. They don’t seem to have ever built anything else, so are hard to track down. It seems most likely that Baker is the same George B Baker, and the most likely Buckley is Frank L Buckley who had a new house built on Osler Avenue in 1913. He was recorded in the street directory as Managing Director of the British Canadian Labour Corporation, a position he continued to hold over a number of years. We think he must have been the Frank Buckley who in 1911 was the American manager of B C Lumber Mills, and lived with his American wife Rosa and two children, James and Helen, and their Norwegian domestic, Bertha Ostrom.
The building was built in 1911, and is recorded on the 1912 Insurance map as the King Warehouse when it was apparently numbered as 1050 Hamilton. In 1924, as our picture shows, it was used by the Consolidated Exporters Co. During the 1940s and 50s it was home to Crawford Storage, where Mrs M M Crawford was company president. More recently it continued to be a warehouse for clothing, but now operates predominantly as office space.
Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-3487
The 5-storey warehouse on the corner of Homer and Nelson Street was owned, designed and built by R Bowman in 1909. There was a well-known Vancouver architect, J H Bowman, but R Bowman was somebody else (and no relation, as far as we can tell). Heritage Vancouver have found the Vancouver Sun description of the development. In October, 1909 they reported that “A building permit was this morning taken out by Mr. R. Bowman for a five-story block located on the southeast corner of Nelson and Homer streets, the site having been recently acquired from the C.P.R. The building will be of brick construction throughout, and is designed for warehouse and factory purposes. It is understood that before it was planned a ten-year lease of the premises was made to representatives of a local industry which will employ 50 hands as soon as operations are started“. The ‘local industry’ mentioned in the article was the Vancouver based Bogardus Wickens & Begg Glass Company (formerly the B.C. Plate Glass Importing Company).
In 1901 Richard Bowman’s Trade or Occupation is described in the census return as storekeeper and the 1911 Street Directory clarifies that he was storekeeper for the CPR shops. However, in 1911, the single word entry for Mr Bowman’s occupation says ’Income’ and the 1912 Directory (which reflects what he was doing in 1911) refers to him as a commercial agent. He arrived in Canada from England either in 1875 or 1881 (the two census records show different dates). By 1901 He had a wife, Nancy (who had also been born in England but arrived before Richard either in 1866 when she was only aged four or 1870 when she would have been eight.), Their son, Oscar, is listed as being born in Ontario in the 1901 Census, and England in 1911, and was born in either 1883 or 1886. As far as the 1911 census is concerned he had not arrived in Canada (as an immigrant at least) until 1907 although he was living with his parents in Vancouver in 1901. James Bowman, Richard’s nephew, was also living with the family in 1901. The Bowman family lived in a turreted house at 1101 Harwood before moving to Osler.
We don’t know if Mr Bowman really designed the building. F H Rayner was architect for the added floors on Bowman’s warehouse on Beatty Street, and a house for him on Osler Avenue, but that was in 1913. He only has one other building listed, also in 1913, so he probably wasn’t in Vancouver in 1909.
Richard Bowman’s son, Oscar joined him in running Bowman Storage, but Oscar died in 1923, and in the 1920 US Census Richard and Nancy Bowman are living in Long Beach, California. Richard died in Vancouver in 1926 and Oscar’s widow, Beatrice, ran the company from 1926 to her death in 1941. Beatrice married Oscar in 1913 and became bookkeeper for the Bowman company.
At some point – apparently quite early in its history - the building added office uses to the upper floors. While today there is a Shoppers Dug Mart on the main floor and a TD Bank beneath it, in the early 1950s it was the Canada Cycle & Motor Co. Today there are a number of office users upstairs, including several mining exploration companies, acupuncture, aromatherapy and a yoga studio. In 1952 it was the Canadian Mercantile Insurance Co, the Commerce Mutual Insurance Co and C R Padget’s real estate office.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E12.30 (1981)
The Percival is one the more dramatic transformations from when our 1981 photo shows that this Hamilton Street warehouse facade was mostly blocked up. The concrete window infill was added to the 1912 building after a fire in the 1950s. The building structure today is a mix of poured in place concrete, reinforced concrete floor beams and masonry brick walls which was how it was designed by G P Bowie - being described as a “six-storey brick & concrete warehouse”
Although it’s sometimes called the Stewart and Cromie Warehouse, and that was the name of the owners on the permit, it appeared in the Street Directories from the year it was finished as the Percival Building. The most likely candidates for having built it are Robert Cromie, who was Manager of Foley, Welch and Stewart who were railway contractors based in the Winch Building. Mr Cromie was later well connected, as his wife was the daughter of Vancouver hardware magnate Edward McFeely. He was originally from Quebec and only 25 years old when the building went up. There’s also a connection to the Vancouver Sun, as this 2012 article by John Mackie explains
“The Sun was launched on Feb. 12, 1912, at the crest of a boom that had seen Vancouver’s population quadruple in 10 years. But the boom went bust as foreign investment stalled around the First World War, and the paper floundered financially. In 1915, The Sun was rescued by an infusion of cash from railway contractors Timothy Foley, Patrick Welch and John Stewart. Foley, Welch and Stewart had cut a shady deal with the provincial government to fund the Pacific Great Eastern railway, and thought a newspaper might be useful in advancing their interest in the PGE. But the deal became a scandal, and they had to repay $1.1 million to the province. In the midst of the scandal, running an unprofitable newspaper wasn’t a priority, and the trio gave control of the paper to Stewart’s secretary, Robert Cromie. One story has it that Cromie fished out some Sun stock that was being thrown out from a wastebasket, which gave him control of the paper. Robert Cromie’s grandson, Ron Cromie, says “family legend” is that Cromie was “given The Sun in lieu of wages owed him for a construction company McConnell [or Foley, Welch and Stewart] also owned that had gone bankrupt.” In any event, Cromie managed to make the paper profitable after acquiring financing from the owner of the Seattle Times and then buying up some competing Vancouver papers (The News-Advertiser and The World) to increase circulation.”
In 1995 the building was given a comprehensive restoration and converted to residential uses on the upper floors. Marshall Fisher Architects and Acton Johnston Ostry were the architects of the newly named ‘Del Prado’ – although these days as often as not is known by its original name – The Percival Building.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E13.32