In the very early 1900s C F Mills, and two years later Mills and Williamson, obtained permits for a pair of houses on the corner of Burrard and Davie, which were clearly shown on the 1912 insurance maps. Mrs Alice Lyon built a house in 1901 on the third lot south at 1212 Burrard.
Over time Burrard Street shifted from a quiet tree-lined residential street to part of the Downtown’s commercial area. This corner was redeveloped around 1928 to reflect the city’s expanding connections to the movie industry. The Vancouver Public Library title for this image says it was the Vancouver Motion Pictures Ltd. That company was incorporated in 1928 by R.E. Bourne, Charles McKenzie and Harry Rosenbaum. It was operated by Leon Shelly of Shelly Films Ltd. and an important early independent production company of documentary industrial films. Some films were produced on contract for the National Film Board of Canada.
However, there were a whole series of other movie companies based in the building – a virtual who’s who of movie making. Canadian Educational Films, Limited, Canadian Universal Film Company, Famous-Lasky Film Service, Limited and F.B.O. Pictures Corporation of Canada, Limited were all listed here, as well as Regal Films Ltd, Warner Bros Pictures, RKO Distribution Corp of Canada, Fox Film Corporation and United Artists.
We recently discovered the architect of this building – like many in the late twenties and early 1930s it had design references to Mission revival style – even more popular (and appropriate) in California. It was designed by H H Gillingham, an English-born architect who is better known as the architect of the Commodore Ballroom on Granville Street. We haven’t identified the architect of the 1978 office building that replaced it. Sold in 2009 for $19m to Hong Kong World Holdings, the building is full of doctors and dentists with increasingly hi-tech gadgetry that added together might be worth more than the building.
We’ve featured both of the buildings in this picture already. On the left is Max Downing’s retail building for the Hudson’s Bay Company from 1933, and on the right is the St Regis Hotel. Leon Melekov, a successful businessman, hired W T Whiteway to design the hotel which opened in 1913. This 1974 image shows that neither building looked as good 40 years ago as they do today. The Archives identify the two businesses on the left as Salon George and Rae-Son Shoe Rack. The Salon was offering $2.95 haircuts.
The hotel was given an extensive $12m makeover, reopening in 2008 after an expensive new underground connection was built to allow disabled access for the SkyTrain station nearby. This was the community amenity contribution that allowed the residential tower that now fills in the sky behind the two buildings: The Hudson (on Granville Street). The Gotham steakhouse was renovated earlier by the same owner.
When it first opened the St Regis initially operated as a business hotel. Later it was where visiting sportsmen often chose to stay, and by the time this picture was taken it had moved further down market with a strip show – one of around thirty in the city at that time – and in the final years before renovation it featured Jester’s Grill and Tap Room.
Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-420
Today this is half of the Gotham Steakhouse (now numbered as 615 Seymour), a single storey protected heritage building next to the St Regis Hotel. In 1943 in this Vancouver Public Library image it was home to Brooks Corning, an office furniture company who have been in business in the city for over a century. This was their store when the building was just 10 years old. We’ve seen a series of buildings in the Art Deco style by Townley and Matheson – but this is by a different architect, Max Downing. He worked in the city from 1910, and in 1933 he was hired by the Hudson’s Bay Company to design this project – (the Bay’s main building is just up the street on the same block).
The building used cast in place concrete with either terra-cotta or cast concrete patterned detailing below a crenellated concrete cornice. From 1936, the same year that Brooks Corning moved in, the other half of the building was occupied by the Deutschland Café. For obvious reasons that business did not continue in the 1940s, and when this picture was taken the occupant of the other half of the building was ‘The Academy of Useful Arts’. Those are almost certainly dress forms for tailoring in the window.
The Deutschland Café had been on Robson Street in 1934, and the earliest tenants of this building appear to have been B A Rhodes selling sporting goods and Lewis and Sills selling hardware in the right hand store, while Dale’s Doggie Headquarters shared premises with the Empire Garden Nurseries in this half of the building – although the doggies only lasted a year, and the plants only another year after that.
We saw the Boulder Hotel, and told some of its story, in a post over two years ago. Here are two more images of the Boulder, one from 1890 (when the Fripp Brothers design was very new) and a more detailed one from the early 1900s. In both the building was only two storeys high; it had another floor added, but we weren’t sure exactly when (somewhere between 1907 and 1920 from the available pictures – the building’s heritage statement says before 1910, but we haven’t been able to confirm that, although there is a 1911 panorama that suggests it’s probably true). There were more alerations in 1916 when the hotel became home to the Royal Bank of Canada. Purdy and Henderson were designers of the conversion as well as contractors, and the work cost $10,000, so was a substantial piece of construction.
The Boulder was built in 1890, and before the fire (and from as early as the 1870s) Angus Fraser’s house were here, but as we saw in another post there was a wooden building that lasted less than four years on this spot.
Major Matthews records the experience of George Walkem in 1898 going to “that restaurant on Cordova Street run by Boehlofsky” which he identifies as the Boulder Salon on the corner. In fact it was the Boulder restaurant at 7 Cordova Street – the hotel was run by Arthur A Langley with W D Haywood in the mid 1890s until 1901, the year that G B Harris carried out $700 of alterations. Later that year W McNeish of the Columbia House in Golden took over. Boehlofsky moved on to the International Hotel before 1900. Mr Walkem recalled that “As I went in there was a waitress at the door with a napkin over her arm, and I asked her where I could find the proprietor, and she pointed to a man. I went up to him, told him I was without money, wanted something to eat, but I suppose he had dozens of such applicants and he did not grant my request. So as I was going out, dejected, the waitress at the door said to me, ‘What did Father say,’ so I told her. She replied, ‘You go and sit down there at that table,’ and I did, and she brought me as fine a meal as one could wish for, and after that she took one of those tickets for 21 meals and punched it for one meal and gave it to me.”
In the 1890s the restaurant occupied the western half of the building; the saloon and hotel were on the corner (and the upper floors). The restaurant advertised in 1900 that it was open day and night. Most recently it has been the Boneta restaurant, the No. 1 Noodle House, and briefly a pop-up version of Save-On-Meats while it was being renovated. Now it’s waiting a residential conversion upstairs that will see the SRO rooms (long closed) replaced by eight market rental units.
Image Sources, City of Vancouver Archives Str 349.1 and SGN 36
We saw this building as the city’s second First Baptist Church in the previous post. Here it is in 1940, in a different role. The Baptists moved on to new premises in 1911, but the church building wasn’t demolished. It became Hamilton Hall, without the church spire, and was finally demolished in 1941.
During the economic depression in the 1930s it was used as a relief office to provide limited support to the city’s unemployed. In 1936 it was reported by the RCMP that “Approximately 300 single unemployed men invaded the relief offices at Hamilton Hall, Vancouver, B.C., at 10:00 a.m. on 13th October demanding relief. They forced through the doors striking a policeman on guard there, proceeded to break up furniture and barricaded themselves for 35 minutes until police reserves, using tear-gas bombs, forced them from the building. Sixty-three arrests were made after the clash with the police, bringing the total number of arrests made recently up to 110. Forty-seven other men were previously arrested on charges of obstructing the police. A number of those arrested as a result of the clash at Hamilton Relief Office have been charged with rioting.” (sourced from PastTense).
As we noted before the Vancouver Playhouse now occupies the site, a competition-winning design by Affleck, Desbarates, Dimakopoulos, Leibenshold, Michaud and Sise and completed in 1959.
This church stood on the south east corner of Dunsmuir and Hamilton streets. It was designed in 1889 by Thomas Hooper, better known these days for his many workmanlike commercial buildings. However, four of the first ten buildings that we know he designed in the city were churches. This early 1900s image shows that there weren’t too many houses – or any other buildings – in the neighbourhood when the First Baptist church was built. This wasn’t the first First Baptist Church – that was on the corner of Dupont (Pender today) and Westminster Avenue (now Main Street) but this Hooper designed wooden edifice was much bigger and could seat 800. After only 14 years the church needed to move again, and a lot on the corner of Burrard and Nelson was purchased, although the congregation weren’t able to move until 1911 to the stone building still standing today.
Today the Vancouver Playhouse occupies the site, although where the church stood includes the surrounding landscaping and driveway for the theatre.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Ch N66
West Georgia Street was once pretty much developed with family homes and churches. This is St Andrew’s, the Presbyterian church on the corner with Richards street on the north-east corner in a photograph dated to 1900. The Architect was William Blackmore, and the church was built in 1890; the first concert was held in May and the first marriage was held in June. Calvert Simon, the Hastings Mill storekeeper identified Jimmy Kemp as the builder of the church
Major Matthews, the City Archivist, recalled that it “used to have two towers; one blew off, and they never replaced it”. We think he was mistaken: there’s a photograph of the church being completed from around 1890 – and there’s no sign of the second tower being constructed (on the right of the image. There were however four corner cornices that didn’t last very long on the second tower.
The church (just about) lasted until 1934 (so another image in the archives with the spire removed must be earlier than 1937, as it is labeled). The congregation had mostly moved west to the new St Andrew’s – St Andrew’s Wesley, which was the new United Church built for the recently joined non-conformist denominations and completed in 1933.
This corner saw a service station constructed after the church was demolished – the George and Richards Service Station, owned in 1945 by Betts and Carroll. In 1974 the building that’s there today was completed. Designed by Zoltan Kiss, it was known as the BC Turf Building and developed by Jack Diamond.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 677-648 and SGN 1454