West Pender Street – 500 block, north side

These four buildings were all replaced by a building called Conference Plaza, completed in 1996. They had stood for over 90 years, and are seen here in 1968. The first building, on the corner of Seymour, on the 1912 insurance map was the Mahon, McFarland & Proctor Building. The investor partners built several projects in the city, and we looked in detail at their background in an earlier post. When it was first completed in 1908 it was known as the Imperial Block, designed by Parr and Fee, and it was developed by ‘Martin, Nichols & Gavin’, and built at a cost of $54,000 by Mills & Williams.

There’s no reference to any business or partnership named Martin, Nichols & Gavin, so our best guess is that it was a consortium including Robert Martin (of Martin and Robertson), and perhaps Duncan Gavin who ran a candy business, and whose son worked for Martin and Robertson. The ‘Nichols’ was most likely to have been John P Nicolls; of Macaulay and Nicolls; his real estate business carried out repairs to the building, designed by T E Parr, in 1921.

Next door was the Ackroyd Building, and then the Temple Building. We looked at the history behind those buildings in an earlier post. The Ackroyd Building started out being called the R V Winch Building, until Mr. Winch built a much larger and more magnificent building to the west of here. It was completed in 1905 and designed by Grant and Henderson. The Temple Building was developed by the Temple Realty Company, and also designed by Grant & Henderson. The Temple family were in Santa Rosa, California, but they relied on a relative, W Bennett Hood to manage their Vancouver investment, after 1906 joined by his brother Robert, partners in Hood Brothers real estate, based in the building.

The last building on the block was also built in 1905, although the foundations had been started in 1895. Dr Israel Wood Powell ‘of Victoria’ was originally the developer, in partnership with R G Spinks and R G McKay, with a building designed by Fripp and Wills in 1892. The foundations were started a couple of years later, but the 1903 insurance map showed that that was all that had been constructed eight years after that. In 1905 a new permit was taken out by Powell and Hood – They were William Bennett Hood (who developed the Temple building)and Bertram W Powell, the son of Israel Wood Powell. Also designed by Grant & Henderson, the $15,000 building had iron columns and beams. In 1922 it was known as the Roaf Block; owned by J. H. Roaf, who hired Dalton & Eveleigh to design $9,000 of work to repair the building after a fire. Major Roaf was the managing director of the Clayburn Co, manufacturers of bricks and sewer pipes from a clay deposit at Sumas Mountain. A keen motorist, in 1912 he was owner of vehicle licence 1587. In 1923 another $20,000 of alterations (designed by William Dodd & Sons) were carried out when the World Publishing Co moved in (rather a drop in status from the World Tower down the street).

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 2010-006.008; Ernie Reksten

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Posted September 24, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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139 East Cordova Street

This building, with its fancy brickwork patterns, dates back to 1912 when it was built by Dominion Construction at a cost of $22,000. The developer was A C McNeil, and helpfully, we don’t need to look for him in the city’s street directories as he was recorded on the building permit as ” (of Montana, USA)”. He hired J P Matheson as his architect on the building that would open as the Harbour Rooms, run by Mrs. Essie Thompson. There had been a house on the lot before this development was built.

Quite why Mr. McNeil chose to build here is unclear, but there is a Butte resident who regularly visited the west coast, including Washington and Oregon. In 1917 A C McNeill was recorded as having taken a 1,300 road trip from Butte to ‘Spokane and the west’ with his wife and daughter – a remarkable distance for a road trip at the time. He visited Vancouver Island in 1929 and seems to have been a hotelier later in the 1930s, in Butte.

By the 1920s the spelling of the name had taken on the US preference – the Harbor Rooms – run by Mrs Ella Kelly in 1920, and Charles T Berryman from 1921 (who arrived in the city after the 1921 census). He also ran the Harbor Bar downstairs. By 1930 the name had changed to the New Harbor Rooms, run by H Anderson, and by 1934 the New Harbour Rooms, run by C Traversy. (The new art deco black retail façade might have been added around this time, although it could have been in 1945 when the building’s name was changed). In 1938 The New Harbor Rooms were run by Uda Zenkichi. In 1942 there was still a Japanese proprietor, H Iwasaki, but a year later he would have been interned, and Quon Hon had taken over. In 1945 the proprietorship changed to Pang Mock, and the name to the United Rooms. It still had that name when this 1985 image was taken, and today when the rooms are managed as a privately owned SRO rooming house by the Shun Chi Company.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-2450

Posted September 20, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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729 Hamilton Street

Fire Hall No. 1 was probably newly built when this 1950s image was shot. We wouldn’t know who had designed the third location of the city’s Fire Hall No. 1 if the picture wasn’t listed as part of the Townley and Matheson fonds, in the Archives collection. The building replaced the Cordova Street fire hall, which in turn had replaced the first building on Water Street. It was only here for about 20 years; in 1975 the new Heatley Street Fire Hall No. 1 was opened, and Fire Hall No. 8 was opened further down Hamilton Street in 1974 to retain a Downtown fire fighting base – the land for that building having been acquired in 1971 for $60,000!

Here’s another view of the building, designed in the international style, and seen here in 1962. The equipment is on display because the Fire Department had taken delivery of a new set of fire trucks. The urgency to move the relatively new facility was to facilitate ‘The Federal Block’ – an anticipated major government investment proposed in the early 1970s. The entire block, by 1981, was a vacant parking lot, but the project never materialized, and finally, in 1995, Moshe Safdie’s design for the new Vancouver Public Library Central Branch was completed. The Federal Government contributed to the library project by agreeing to lease the corner office tower, and some upper floors, for 20 years. The tower is still Federal offices, but the upper floors of the main building have now been converted to library use, with public access possible very soon to the rooftop garden.

Image sources: City of Vancouver CVA 1399-461 and CVA 354-260

Posted September 17, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Pender Street – 100 Block (2)

We looked at this block of West Pender from the other end in an earlier post. Here, we’re looking east and down the hill from Victory Square. On the corner of Cambie Street is the Edgett Building, actually developed by Francis Carter Cotton and later used by H A Edgett for his wholesale fruit and vegetable company. Today it’s the home of the Architectural Institute of BC. Next door is a vacant site, soon to be redeveloped with a non-market rental building, but originally home of the Calumet, a rental building that may have been one of Sam Kee’s investment hotels, where he hid his ownership (as the building was outside Chinatown) by having the Building Permit submitted by his lawyers, Parkes & McDonald.

Next door going east were two hotels, still standing today and operated as well managed privately owned SRO Hotels. The Silver was developed by W S Silver, and English born broker who lived in Burnaby (with Silver Avenue being named for him). Designed by Grant & Henderson, it was completed in 1914, five years after the Savoy Rooms, later the Avalon Hotel, designed by Parr and Fee for McLennan and Campbell.

The Vancouver Public Library picture (above) was taken in 1912, while the one below dates from 1981, after the Calumet had burned down. In 1981 137 West Pender was still standing; a warehouse built in 1915 probably developed by an advertising executive called I N Bond. That was replaced in 1989 by Pendera a non-market housing building designed by Davidson & Yuen that was part of the Jim Green era Downtown Eastside Residents Association development program.

Image sources Vancouver Public Library and City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E16.12

 

Posted September 13, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone, Still Standing

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573 Homer Street

In the past few years the vacant site in our 2004 image has been developed, and the building in the picture has been demolished and is now a vacant site. The second floor housed the Marine Club, a tiny and, according to Scout Magazine ‘slightly sordid’ club. It opened as a private membership club for marine crew, an opportunity to buy liquor in a bar in an era where there weren’t many opportunities.

When it went bust in 2007 it had lasted just over 50 years, with a décor that reflected its roots, and a clientele (when they showed up) that morphed from grizzled seamen to punk rockers in the 1970s, and the original hipsters before then. In later years it was a regular gig for Ray Condo, a rockabilly and roots performer, but with a seat limit of 100 it would never make big returns for Ray, who died in 2004. Towards the end of the club’s run, a variety of styles of music were available. In 2003 Peyote Calamity and Goatsblood (playing Sludge/Grind/Noise/Doom) were on the bill, while a year later My Project Blue offered ‘aloof synth/guitar rock’. Even though the bar offered free pool a few nights of the week, giving pool sharks a reason to want to drop by for a beer, the business didn’t survive.

The building was originally developed in 1946, and before there had been houses on this stretch of Homer Street – some can be seen in an earlier post. The first occupant of the new building appears to have been Precision Instrument, who were listed as manufacturers. A business with the stame name still operate today in Coquitlam. They were later joined by Zaitzeff & Co, Importers and exporters, and Co-op Fire and Casualty Insurance.

BC Hydro have a right of way for high voltage cables passing the site, which limits the redevelopment potential. Next door, Omicron Architecture designed a new addition to the Labour Temple on the corner of Homer and Dunsmuir, with White Spot occupying the ground floor. The new structure gives added seismic support to the heritage building – the cross bracing is visible through the windows.

Posted September 10, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1065 West Pender Street

When it was built, in 1909, this was the first structure completed on the lot. It was on Pender Street – East Pender had another name, so there was no need to reference ‘West’. In front (to the north) on top of the cliff above the beach were a row of fancy houses, initially occupied by the city’s CPR managers and other professionals like lawyers and doctors. Many of their original owners had already moved on to new locations, either in the West End or the new First Shaughnessy area across False Creek. This block had several other buildings completed around the same time, including another Honeyman & Curtis design.

The developer was the Canadian General Electric Company, and they hired Honeyman and Curtis to build an initial $30,000 warehouse, built by Murray and McMillan in 1909, followed by another $30,000 addition to the east in 1913, built by Purdy & Lonegan. The Company were the Canadian subsidiary of the US General Electric Company, created in 1892 and manufacturers of generators, transformers, motors, wire and cable, and lighting products for consumer and industrial products.

The company’s 1912 Annual R port explains the extent of the company operation and how the local offices operated: “In addition to the head office at Toronto, with its Sales and Engineering Departments, the Company has a number of branch offices throughout Canada – at Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Cobalt, Porcupine. Winnipeg, Nelson, Victoria. Prince Rupert, Vancouver, Saskatoon, Calgary, Regina and Edmonton, each with its own complete organization, thus enabling the Company’s officers to study the local conditions and requirements, which differ considerably in the various provinces of the Dominion.” GE had been selling products to Vancouver for many years – their equipment was used by the Consolidated Railway Co as they expanded the streetcar network throughout the city.

The company were still operating their wholesale division in this building in 1934, when this Vancouver Public Library image was taken, and through to at least the mid 1950s. It was replaced in 1978 by the Oceanic Plaza, designed by Charles Payne (who also designed the earlier Guinness Tower nearby). The developers were British Pacific Building Ltd, the Guinness family company that owned much of West Vancouver where they developed the British Properties, and the purchasers of the adjacent Marine Building.

50 East Cordova Street

This is an SRO building in the Downtown Eastside that displays some similar characteristics to its neighbours on either side (designed by the same architect, and built in the same year). Built in 1911 for Daniel Campbell, it was designed by Hugh Braunton. and Edgell & Dixon were hired to build the $30,000 investment. Completed in 1912, it was initially named the Cordova Rooms.

There were several Daniel Campbells in Vancouver, but only one was a real estate broker. Born in Ontario in 1863, he lived at 1201 Georgia with his wife Kate, who was three years younger than Daniel, and in 1911 their bookkeeper son William who was aged 17, and who had been born in the US, and arrived in Canada aged two. Daniel was a partner in the Campbell-Walker Brokerage Co.

Like many other real estate businesses, things went badly for Campbell-Walker as the Great war added to the recession that had already hit the economy. The 1915 Government Gazette lists a number of lots where they had failed to pay the appropriate taxes, and where they were in arrears.

Renamed as the Wonder Rooms, this property briefly achieved notoriety as one of the properties co-owned by a former pharmacist, George Wolsey, who lost his pharmacy licence for forcing residents at the buildings he owned to get their methadone prescriptions filled through his pharmacy. In 2012 a court-appointed receiver assumed control of the buildings and began hunting for prospective buyers, and Vancouver-based nonprofit Community Builders agreed to take over running the building. Sold for over a million dollars, tenants who had successfully launched a class-action lawsuit against the owners of the two dilapidated single-room-occupancy buildings in 2011 were unable to obtain their $18,000 payout as Mr Wolsey failed to show up in court, or make payment. During the lawsuit the state of the building was described. “Structurally, the building is falling apart, the fire seals are breached, the fire escapes are blocked, the toilets don’t work, there is a single shower for three floors of people.” Things are better than that these days, but the rooms no longer let at the welfare rate.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-2444

Posted September 3, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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