The Holden Block – 16 East Hastings

The building on the corner of Hastings and Carrall is the Woods Hotel, which we looked at already. The building under construction a little further east is the Holden Building, completed in 1911 (so this must be 1910). Like the Woods, it was designed by W T Whiteway. The developer, William Holden was a real estate developer and broker and the building was expensive, $250,000 for the steel framed structure.

William Holden was born in Stirling, Ontario, in 1872, and moved to Vancouver in 1898. He worked for seven years in insurance, then in 1905 started in real estate. A 1908 Calgary newspaper reported that Mr Holden had given up the job of provincial superintendent of the Federal Life Assurance company, and was making thousands every week out of real estate. He’s described in the heritage description of the Holden Building as ‘the man who built Granville Street” – which isn’t really true, as he dealt in realty there rather than developing. More important was his securing of the necessary False Creek lands that allowed the Great Northern Railway to build their facilities.

In 1911 Holden lived on Barclay Street and had offices in the Jones Block on Homer Street, although in 1913 he gave the Hotel Vancouver as his address. He carried out repairs to the ‘Irwin Hotel’ in 1910 – except there doesn’t seem to be an Irwin Hotel – but there was an Irvine Hotel on East Hastings, which seems a likely candidate. Holden also co-developed and later owned the Pender Hotel on the 600 block of West Pender. He married in 1911 and  transferred the hotel property to his wife, Lillian (also born in Ontario), in 1912 – at which point she was aged 25. Lillian was the daughter of Arthur Buscombe, an English-born merchant (although her mother was from Ontario), and the family had lived in Sault Ste. Marie before arriving in Vancouver. Sadly, she died only ten years later.

The office building was leased to the City Council from 1924 to 1936 as City Hall, with A J Bird making substantial alterations to allow it to operate in this role. In 1988 it was refurbished for residential use, and renamed Tellier Tower, and it retains the role of providing non-market housing today.

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Posted January 29, 2012 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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