Temple Building – 515 West Pender Street

The Temple Building was built in 1905 and designed by Grant and Henderson for trader and broker Richard Winch. In 1906 the main floor had two tenants; BC Assay and Chemical Supply Co were at 513, while W S Holland of Holland and Davidson Real Estate was at 517. Upstairs, at 515 was the Monte Carlo Rooming House. This arrangement remained for several years, although the real estate offices by 1909 were occupied by “the International Brokerage Co. A Sinclair, timber broker, the B C Ink Co and A Erskine Smith, mines” (he was a mining broker, living up the street in the St Francis Hotel).

Mr. Winch was amazingly successful, amassing a fortune from starting in grocery and game retailing,  canning salmon, and then also became a broker, supplier, and insurance and shipping agent. He invested his profits from these businesses into real estate, building one of the city’s most prestigious office buildings, and trading in real estate across the city. He owned a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost in 1910, and had three servants at home in 1911. When this 1946 Vancouver Public Library image was taken, Vick’s Radio Service was in one main floor retail unit, Harvey & Riach’s furniture store occupied the other space, and upstairs were the Temple Rooms.

Next door at 519, Guilding & Folley, auctioneers occupied the building, although we’ve drawn a complete blank on who designed or developed it in the mid 1900s, but early tenants included John Williams, an inspector of fisheries, Hood Bros real estate and the Prudential Life Insurance Co. (There’s a building name on the cornice, but the image isn’t clear enough and it was erased in later years). As William Hood built other property on Pender, he and his brother Robert could have developed this as well. (There were in fact a second Acland Hood Hall, also on West Pender).

The Hood brothers arrived around 1906 from Cupar, in Fife, Scotland, and successfully ran a real estate business for over 50 years. (Robert Hood developed a sideline as a writer – his first novel was published in 1918, and he published seven books; fiction, non-fiction and poetry over a thirty year writing career). They were more ambitious than some of their rivals, advertising in an Oregon newspaper in 1920 for example “FIVE-STORY and basement modem brick hotel, on Granville street, Vancouver. B. C, 75-ft. frontage, most of furniture goes with building, tenant’s lease expiring, for sale at a sacrifice. HOOD BROS., 626 Pender street west, Vancouver.”

Today the Conference Plaza development is here, completed in 1996 and designed by Aitken Wreglesworth Associates. The Pender Street facades recreate a low podium similar in scale to what was there before, with a 30 storey 252 unit condo tower on the corner with Seymour.

Posted May 25, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Dunsmuir and Homer Street – sw corner

We’ve seen the buildings here in a couple of earlier posts: the first building constructed here was St Ann’s Academy, and subsequently the parking structure with retail on the main floor (seen again here in this 1970s Vancouver Public Library image). It was replaced in 1984 with the low-rise component of 401 West Georgia, a 22 storey office tower designed by Aitken, Smith, Carter Architects. Now there’s a proposal for what would be the fourth building to be located here, an 11-storey office building designed by B&H Architects.

The area will change more, because there’s a tower proposed to be built on the parking garage of the Scotiatower, completed in 1976. That will be to the left of the tower, behind Zoltan Kiss’s 1974 tower for the Diamond Family, seen behind the parkade  (so pushing the image back to over 40 years ago). Down the street, beyond the Holy Rosary Cathedral, the Dunsmuir Hotel will be included in some way in the redevelopment of the Bay Parkade, and on the immediate left hand edge of the picture the Post Office has a proposal to add office, rental and condo residential towers on top of the repurposed heritage structure.

Posted May 22, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

602 Keefer Street

Gregory Tom was the headmaster of Lord Strathcona School, across the street from here, when he had this house built in 1902. He was aged 39, and had come to Vancouver from Victoria, where he taught school. His early years were spent in Usborne, in Huron County, Ontario, which is where we think he was born (and listed in the 1871 census as Greggory). He had at least three siblings, one of them becoming a Senator in Toledo, Ohio. In 1888 Gregory emigrated to New York, but by 1891 he was in Victoria, aged 27 and still single.

Before he moved into his new home, which cost $1,000, he had married Caroline Fitton, also from Ontario and a few years younger than her husband, and they hade a son, Reginald, in 1896. William Cline, a carpenter and builder designed and built the house, as he did several others down the same street. It looks as if he was born in Quebec, while his wife, Mary, came from Ontario, but their children, including carpenters Albert and William H were born in the USA. This house was addressed as 602 on either street, Keefer, or Princess. We’ve noted many times that the 1911 census is unreliable, and it proved to be so for the Tom family, where Gregory is recorded as Anthony, although the details of the home address, (by then 1602 E 12th Ave where the family moved to that year), his occupation, Caroline and Reginald are all correct.

By 1921 Gregory had moved on to be the principal of Alexandra School, and was living on Point Grey Road. Reginald was still living at home, training as a lawyer with Williams Walsh McKim & Housser. Adding a further decade finds Gregory still working as principal of a school, and Reginald still at home, but now a barrister. Gregory retired in the early 1930s and died in 1938 in Vancouver, and Caroline in 1949 when she was living in New Westminster. Their son, Reginald Fitton Tom died at aged 43 in Vancouver in March 1940, still living at home.

The house narrowly avoided the ‘slum clearance’ that would have replaced the entire Strathcona neighbourhood with more contemporary housing, but by 1977 when this image was taken it wasn’t at its best (although much better than many in the area). In recent years the house has been restored to something closer to its original state.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1135-28

Posted May 18, 2017 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Secord Hotel – 401 Powell Street

Angus Secord born 1850 in New Brunswick, and died in 1897; (he’s buried in Mountain View Cemetery). He was shown living in Vancouver in the 1891 census, but he was still living with his parents in New Brunswick in 1881. He was on the city’s 1886 voter’s list, and in the 1887 street directory where he was listed as a builder, in partnership with John Garvin, on Dupont Street. He could trace his family back to Ambrose Sicard, a Frenchman who was born in 1631, moved to England and then, in 1888 (the year he died), New York. We know Angus was a carpenter, because he was responsible for the woodwork on his hotel, which he may have designed as well.

The Vancouver Daily World described the new hotel: “On the ground floor are the dining-room, kitchen, sample-room – for this hotel is intended for a commercial as well as a family house – and smaller necessary rooms, besides a neat little store. The first floor consists of parlors for guests and bed rooms, and the third storey of private parlors, rooms en suite and single rooms. The house is specially arranged for a family boarding hotel. No liquor will be sold, and every provision will be made for a quiet, cheerful, comfortable residence. A balcony for each storey surrounds the building, to which there is a ready exit from the spacious halls within. By this arrangement, whether the guest wishes to sit in the shade or sun, he may do so at all times of the day. From the balconies the most delightful view of the surroundings may be obtained; but better still, there is an exit upon the level roof from which the scenery spreading out to view is grandly picturesque. All the smaller conveniences will be supplied, such as bath-rooms on every floor, and electric bells in each of the thirty-eight rooms for guests. The interior is being finished in cedar, stained and varnished.” Here’s the Lady’s Parlour in the newly completed hotel.

The lack of liquor continued after Mr. Secord’s death; it was listed as ‘Temperance Hotel’ on the 1912 Insurance map of the city. By 1920 it had become the Imperial Hotel, part of the expanding Japanese character of the area as it was run by Hyakutaro Honda. He was still running the hotel a decade later, but downstairs was the Imperial Beer Parlour run by R Willis. (It’s interesting to note that there was a sushi restaurant two doors along the street). By the time the Japanese were rounded up and removed from the city, Robert Willis had already taken over running the hotel, although he lived on Nelson Street with his wife Adelaide. In 1947 the hotel name changed to the Marr, with Arthur Field as the manager, although the Imperial Beer Parlour was still downstairs.

The balconies were removed many years ago, but the Marr name is retained today, and the building has just been given a new seismic and structural lease of life in a renovation by BC Housing as an SRO hotel, managed by Atira.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives Hot P23.1 and Hot P85.

Posted May 15, 2017 by ChangingCity in Altered, East End

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1105 Granville Street

In 1919 A E Henderson designed a $15,000 garage for agents Griffith & Lee, built by J B Arthur. This picture was taken two years later, and shows the Oldsmobile dealership of Bowell McDonald. They soon added Oakland cars to the mix; an Oldsmobile six sold from this showroom in 1924 would have cost you $1,345. (According to the Bank of Canada inflation calculator, that would be $18,700 today).

Not too much later, in 1925, Bowell McDonald expanded, moving to another concentration of vehicle showrooms on West Georgia. Later they moved again to Burrard Street, became Bowell McLean, and then to West Broadway, where their name can still be seen behind the Toys r Us sign. After they headed to West Georgia, Chevrolet Sales moved into this building, but by the 1930s the vehicle connection was lost and this became the West Port Food Market. Over the years a variety of retail stores have come and gone – and the building has been smartened up in recent years, initially for clothing store Le Chateau, and now for another clothing store, 8th & Main.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Trans N13

Posted May 11, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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2 West Pender Street

This sliver of a building has just been given a 21st century ‘makeover’ with the addition of a light show to an otherwise modest insurance office. The justification for the show is that, according to the Guiness Book of Records, this is the shallowest commercial building in the world; (not the narrowest). It was built in 1913, designed by Bryan and Gillam for the Sam Kee Company and cost just $8,000 to erect. (Behind it is a tenement building developed by another Chinatown merchant, Wing Sang).

It’s a good example of the hassles faced by the Chinese merchant community in the early days of the 20th Century – and their resilience. Sam Kee was an invented name for a company run by Chang Toy. He had built a 2-storey brick building here around 1901, one of several significant hotels and commercial buildings he developed. When the City of Vancouver moved to expropriate the site to widen Pender Street, Sam Kee instructed their lawyer to negotiate for $70,000 compensation in order that they achieved the $62,000 they estimated that the site was worth.

Our 1920s Vancouver Public Library image (above) shows that not content with getting the money, Chang Toy then got his architects to devise a steel framed structure that would maximize the development potential of his site, which was on average only six feet deep, and slightly less at one end. He added a barber’s shop (in 1920 it was run by Foo Key), and public baths in the basement, lit with glazed blocks set into the sidewalk. The main store was occupied by Sam Shing Lin Kee & Co, a shoestore.

In 1936, when the image above was shot, this may not have been an all Chinese tenanted building. While Chin Kee had a shoe repair business here and Y Kee was offering to repair or clean and press laundry, hotdogs and hamburgers only cost a nickel in the centre booth. Hires is a brand of root beer – still manufactured today and the second oldest soft drink brand in North America, dating back to 1875.  The corner unit, not visible in the picture, was the home of the Wong’s ‘Modernize Tailors’ store.

By 1961 when Walter Frost photographed the building (left) there was a tailor, Mr. E Rogers, and Wong’s jewelers and camera store (where they also cut keys) in the other half of the building.

Image sources; Vancouver Public Library and City of Vancouver Archives Bu N158.3 and CVA 447-346

Posted May 8, 2017 by ChangingCity in Chinatown, Still Standing

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Hartney Chambers – West Pender Street

The building on the corner of Homer and West Pender is numbered as 347 West Pender, because this is only a short block. It’s a small building because it shares the lot with an older structure, the original offices for the Daily World newspaper in 1892, and later for the News Herald. Down the street is the Pender Ballroom and the Riggs-Selman Building.

Hartney Chambers was completed in 1909, and designed by W F Gardiner, who then had his offices here. He tendered the building in the last week of February 1908, and tenants were advertising their businesses in the building a year later. Tenants leased either a single or double room in the building, and so were small , often one-man businesses. The Daily World in July 1908 described the building, which today could benefit from some attention, but at the time had ‘a handsome entrance’ to the offices on the upper floors, with a tiled entrance and space for a shoe shine stand. The facades, which have been painted for many years, was originally of pressed brick with New Zealand stone trimmings. The building was fitted with electric lights and steam heating,

We had no idea about who the ‘Hartney’ is that the building was named for, or why the name appeared on it. There were no contemporary records we can find that link the building to an investor called Hartney, although there were two possible candidates in the city, Charles and Patrick, and neither one seems more likely than the other. Both ended up running hotels in the city. The Hartney Real Estate Co had offices in 1907 on West Hastings, but frustratingly their advertisements don’t identify the owner, and the company seems to have lasted only a few months.

The developer was listed on the building permit as Peter G Drost, and the Daily World referred to it as the Drost and Turnbull Building. Adkison & Dill built it at a cost of $22,000. Drost continued to own the building, as he carried out some repairs in 1919. He was born in Ontario around 1863, and in 1891 was living in Whitewater in Selkirk, Manitoba where he was a grocer. That’s where the ‘Hartney’ name almost certainly comes from; Mr. Drost acquired a homestead in Manitoba, and then in the 1890s ran a flour and feed store in the newly expanding railway town of Hartney. In 1895 a fire destroyed much of the centre of the town, reaching Drost’s store.

In 1901 he was still in Manitoba, but in Brandon. He first shows up in Vancouver in 1903, with this rather odd entry, as a manufacturer. The advertisement from the Delta News from November 1902 explains a little more.

In the 1911 census he was living on the 2600 block of Columbia street of Vancouver. In the census he was described as retired (at age 48), but in the directory he was listed as a broker, with his office in this building on West Pender. His wife, Anne, aged 52 was with him, also from Ontario, along with Estelle, 26 and Harold, 23, born in Ontario, and four more sons aged 18 to 12, all born in Manitoba. In 1911 Mr. Drost used the same team of architect and builder to build a rooming house on Powell Street.

Mr. Drost was a Methodist, and involved in running the Central City Mission. In 1912 he was manager of the Mission, reporting that “2,034 men had been given free beds apart from the men who had been given free shake – downs”. In 1930 he had a huge row with the directors, who ran the operation in a way that he didn’t believe followed Christian values as it was run as a private company, and sometimes turned the destitute away. Clearly his disagreements were eventually resolved as the Archives have this image of him in 1949, burning the mortgage for the Mission.

Our image was shot some time in the 1970s, and today the building is still standing as a backpackers hostel. In 1918 it was home to the Vagabond Club, but by 1920 there were some rooms in residential use and by 1930 it had switched to entirely residential use as the Hartney Apartments.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-16 and CVA 371-1576

Posted May 4, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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