The Wilson Block – 929 Granville Street

Although Parr and Fee had most of Granville Street’s design work sewn up, it wasn’t a complete monopoly. C H Wilson commissioned Dalton and Eveleigh to design a warehouse that he then built in 1910 for $75,000. Crowe and Wilson (the same Wilson) had built a single storey building to the left of the warehouse in 1904, which they designed themselves.  The 1910 warehouse is the right hand building in the picture – if you look closely you can see that the left hand set of four windows are slightly different from the right hand six. W T Dalton had designed many buildings developed by Crowe and Wilson over the previous decade. Quite a few years later – but by 1927 – the second part of the building was added to the south – (a single storey building was given a permit for the site next to the Wilson Block in 1921 to owner W W Monbeleous).

Charles H Wilson had arrived in Vancouver three weeks after the fire in 1886 from Ontario and rapidly joined the real estate boom as both a contractor and real estate broker. He was successful enough to have an area called Wilson Heights named after him (and 41st Avenue was Wilson Avenue for a while). He was elected Alderman from 1902 to 1905.


Initially furniture companies occupied the premises; in 1916 it was Standard Furniture, joined in 1917 by F Buscombe and company, the china and glass company founded by Fred Buscombe, and at this point in the company’s history run by his brother, George. Fred developed a number of significant buildings in the city, but we think here the company was a tenant.

In the 1920s the Manufacturers’ Association of British Columbia used the larger building as a showcase for BC produced goods – which suggests a somewhat more important role for this part of town than would be the case today. The building had the rather misleading slogan ‘B. C. Art Gallery’ painted on. By 1939 when this picture was taken William Worrall’s furniture emporium had taken over the building and advertised their 42,000 of space over five floors. William was an Englishman who arrived in the city in 1911 and by 1924 was an auctioneer on Pender Street. In 1926 his furniture store could be found at 1058 Granville.

In 1989 Perkins and Cheung designed the substantial renovations for Tom Lee Music, a company who opened their first store in Hong Kong in 1953. The small single storey building to the left of the warehouse also dates back to 1910 and was designed by A J Bird for J R Reid. The building to the right is the Vermilyea Block.


%d bloggers like this: