Boulder Hotel – 1 West Cordova (1)

The Boulder Hotel is the building that was until recently home to Boneta restaurant. As the 1901 photograph shows, it started life as a 2-storey building in 1890, and later grew another at some point before 1920 and after 1907. The latest picture of a 2-storey version is dated 1907, and it appears in the background of a 1920 picture. It was designed by the Fripp Brothers (Robert and Charles) for American tunnel builder turned real estate mogul A G Ferguson. Unusually for the time it’s a stone masonry construction (on the front) with plain sash windows – it’s faced with sandstone over a granite foundation. We thought for a while that, unusually for Mr Ferguson, it wasn’t called the Ferguson Block (while almost everything else he commissioned apparently was). Then we noticed that on the 1901 Insurance Map it is indeed called the Ferguson Block – Mr Ferguson was nothing if not consistent.

It sits on the corner of Carrall and Cordova, which was one of the prime spots in the early city, and is on the spot Angus Fraser had his house (Fraser was one of the earlier and more successful loggers in the area). Frank Hart, one of the pioneers of the city in a 1934 conversation recalled “There were very high ceilings in the Boulder. They had a fad for high ceilings then, the higher the ceiling the fancier the store; they had a fad for, well, sixteen feet ceilings were common.” 

A 1908 ‘Vancouver Illustrated’ article references the demand for skilled contractors, specifically “David Gibb & Son, whose office is at 1259 Robson street. Mr. Gibb, senior, left Glasgow, Scotland, in 1879, and after spending ten years in New York and Chicago, became a resident of this city in August, 1889. Since that date he has been actively engaged in cut stone contracting”. The Boulder is listed as his, along with Christ church and the Commercial Hotel. The building is getting a makeover at present – plans for a more elaborate addition didn’t pencil out as a logical choice, so the building will probably retain it’s current height.

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Posted December 28, 2011 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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