We have shown this image as it looked about three years later already, but the trees in that picture pretty much obscure the third addition to the Hotel Vancouver. In 1901 The Canadian Pacific Railway again hired Francis Rattenbury to design a new wing of the hotel. It took a while to build, but apparently opened around 1904.
It was in an Italianate style, and from the postcard here it rather looks as if they expected to demolish the first hotel designed by T C Sorby. But as the picture above shows, the eastern wing of the addition was never completed. Instead it was cut off rather alarmingly and there would be a nearly ten year gap before the CPR were ready to replace the hotel and the first addition, also designed by Rattenbury. When they did that, they brought in new architects, initially W S Painter and later Francis Swales, who prepared a series of different designs all reasonably similar in style to the second addition which was incorporated into the final building.
Today as we have noted several times recently we have the Pacific Centre Mall. The second addition sat where today the TD Tower is located. Cesar Pelli designed the two dark towers (they’re brown, but appear almost black unless the sun is shining on them).
The Canadian Pacfic Railway needed a hotel to serve the passengers arriving on their trains at the station located at the foot of Granville Street. T C Sorby had designed the station, and he got the job of designing the hotel too. It was up Granville – not too far, but enough to leave some space for new CPR sponsored commercial buildings, and to pull some activity away from the earlier city centre to the east, where there were already plenty of hotels (none of them on CPR land).
Sorby’s hotel opened in mid 1888 to a design that even he didn’t like – complaining of CPR cutting what they considered to be superfluous details – which in those days were what architecture was often about. (That’s it on the left in about 1890, soon after it was completed.) The CPR were supposedly equally unimpressed – Sir William Van Horne, the CPR President is reported to have said to Sorby “so you’re the damn fool who spoilt the building with all those little windows”. One local newspaper even likened the building’s design to a workhouse. An 1897 newspaper, ‘The Ledge’ published a story which ran “The Vancouver World publishes a long letter from the executive agent of the C. P. R. to the city council, requesting exemption from taxation for buildings proposed to be erected for a passenger station and warehouses. The World publishes cuts of the proposed structures which are said to be in the Queen Anne style of architecture and are fully in keeping with that monument of external ugliness, the company’s hotel Vancouver. The architectural illustrations in the World resemble a compound of a decayed grist-mill with bits of the bastile and the tower of London added.”
Presumably looking for a better response the CPR hired Francis Rattenbury to design the 1893 addition to the south. Rattenbury was only relatively recently arrived in Canada, but at the age of only 25 he had just won the competition for the new parliament buildings in Victoria. In Yorkshire, where he had arrived from, he had been designing buildings in the ‘model’ mill town of Saltaire - or so he told the Vancouver Sun, although actually he hadn’t even been born when that development had taken place. His design for the hotel extention didn’t really have much to do with the original building – that’s it to the left of the ‘before’ image above from 1904, five storeys high. Although Sorby’s hotel was identified for replacement as early as 1900 it was still around for a few more years.
Rattenbury was hired to design a further extention to the original in 1901, which he carried out in an Italienate style that isn’t so very different from his design for the city’s new courthouse five years later. Rattenbury fell out with the CPR, and anyway was busy with other projects including the Empress Hotel in Victoria, so in 1910 architects Painter and Swales were hired to replace a much bigger and more elaborate replacement for both the first hotel and the 1893 addition which was eventually finished in 1916. We’ll feature that building in a future post or two.
These days the site has the Cesar Pelli / McCarter and Nairne designed Pacific Centre Mall which is now anticipated to see a major redesign in the near future with Sears having confirmed their intention of leaving later in 2012.
The York Hotel sat at the corner of Howe and Robson. It first appears in the street directories in 1930, and was still going as the York Motor Hotel in 1968, just before it was cleared away for the Pacific Centre Mall project, where the City of Vancouver used compulsory purchase powers to assemble the double block needed for the underground shopping mall thought necessary to compete with new suburban malls.
The York doesn’t look like a 1930 building – and that’s because it wasn’t. It was built in 1911 as an annex for the Hotel Vancouver at a cost of $190,000. It seems likely that it was built to maintain a CPR hotel presence while the first Hotel Vancouver was demolished and the second Hotel Vancouver – the more flamboyant one - was built. That hotel was demolished after the Second World War. The Honeyman and Curtis designed annex was more restrained, and eventually it lasted longer.
The designer of the postcard for the York were using their artistic licence to its full extent. The cloudy sky to the north is added to cover the much larger and flashy Hotel Vancouver, and the massive laundry chimney that gave the block a distinctly industrial feel. Amazingly the flag that appears in many similar postcards really was on the building – which is by no means true of every appearance. The top of the Vancouver Block on Granville Street was also carefully removed.
These days the much unloved Sears building, designed by Cesar Pelli while working for LA architect Victor Gruen sits on the site. Owners Cadiallac Fairview have paid a small fortune to buy the Sears lease to allow the building to be reconfigured. Current rumours suggest a new major retail tenant below, and the top four floors of retail turned into 300,000 square feet of offices around a new atrium. As much of the concrete wall would be removed and replaced with glazing as can reasonably achieved.
That’s the 1925 part of the Hudson’s Bay building in the centre of this 1953 image, but everything else has changed. The Bay has recently received a comprehensive restoration of the terra cotta facade of the building designed by Burke, Horwood & White of Toronto. They used almost identical designs in Victoria and Winnipeg at around the same time. The Bay had been at this location since 1893, although they started off in the city further north and east on Cordova Street in around 1887. At some point we’ll post a before and after of the building this part of the store replaced, a brick building from 1893.
The facade of the new (and current) Hudson’s Bay store was supplied by the American Terra Cotta & Ceramic Co of Chicago, and the bit you can see here is the second phase from 1925 replacing the 1893 building, which joined to the 1914 building (which was further east on the corner of Seymour and Georgia).
The next stage of the restoration of the Bay building will be new glazed canopies, signs and lighting, more in keeping with the heritage building and creating a better sidewalk than the current solid canopies. The huge change in the recent picture is the arrival of the Pacific Centre Mall, completed in 1974. This part of the complex was designed by McCarter Nairne with Cesar Pelli working at Victor Gruen and Associates of Los Angeles. The dark tower was the Stock Exchange Tower when it was built. The rotunda entrance is likely to be replaced at some point with a retail use and a revised mall entrance.
Not many people think the contemporary building is an improvement on the 1920s pictured here. Granville Mansions stood on the corner, the Orpheum Theatre (not the current one) stood next door, and then the Hotel Vancouver (the second one, not the current one either). Originally the theatre site was where the Canadian Pacific Railway put the Opera House. The Hotel Vancouver was demolished in 1946. Granville Mansions were built around 1907 and Mayor L D Taylor lived there for many years, as did his employee and future wife Alice Berry.
The Mansions were damaged in a 1957 fire, and replaced in the early 1970s with Cesar Pelli’s retail building for Eatons (now Sears, part of the Pacific Centre Mall). Pelli was working with Victor Gruen and Associates of Los Angeles, and McCarter Nairne were the local associate architects. The curved off-white concrete box has not aged well (although the TD and IBM towers to the north by the same architectural team are now less controversial than when first built and dubbed ‘The Black Towers’).