The Glasgow Hotel – 503 Main Street

If the street directories are to believed, the Glasgow Hotel started life as 301 Westminster Avenue and ended it as 503 Main Street only 24 years later. It wasn’t moved – it’s just that the street was both renamed and renumbered in the intervening period (as was the cross street, from Dupont to East Pender).

There’s nothing really remarkable about the Glasgow – it doesn’t feature in any contemporary historical material, but it was a substantial building that was redeveloped in relatively short order. A building for this location was designed by Mallandaine and Sansom for a real estate broker called Frank Granville, who had an office on Cordova Street and lived about a block away on Gore Street. While a ‘Granville Block’ was reported in 1899 in the Daily World, no building of that name shows up subsequently.

Instead the water permit for the Glasgow Hotel was taken out by M Costello in May 1889 (two years before the photo was taken). This would be Michael Costello, a former Union soldier in the American Civil War who had built the Eagle Hotel a little further south by the False Creek Bridge in 1886. Mr Costello would later own the Victoria, the Central and the Commercial hotels, and in 1889 and 1890 was elected Alderman. The choice of hotel name seems odd given the developer was Irish and the name of the subsequent proprietor in 1890 – Fritz Schneider – who had last been working as a chef at the Hotel Vancouver.

Although it called itself a hotel, like many such establishments it had many residents, and by the end of its life (in 1913) it was called the Glasgow Furnished Rooms. A permit was approved in 1908 to add 60 rooms, designed by Robert MacDonald, but we’re not certain they were ever built. If they were, it wasn’t for long as in 1915 the Canadian Bank of Commerce replaced the hotel by completing their imposing new branch designed by their Scottish-born architect, V D Horsburgh (based in Toronto), at a cost of $100,000. Local architect W F Gardiner supervised the construction by Baynes and Horie which followed Mr Horsburgh’s preference for columns – ideally as big as it was possible for columns to get. His Edmonton bank has a traditional Greek Temple facade held up by four massive columns, and his Nanaimo branch four even bigger columns in a shallow curve. In Vancouver the columns are also huge, but grouped on either side of the entrance (and hollow). And so it still stands, and is still a bank for the same owners nearly a century later.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Hot P84


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