Archive for October 2012

Burrard Hotel – West Cordova and Homer

Burrard Hotel new

The Burrard Hotel was announced in the Contract Record in 1905 as being built on the corner of Homer and Cordova. A year later the Cosmopolitan Hotel was recorded in the Street Directory as being on the same corner site – in 1907 the address disappears, and only in 1908 does the Burrard Hotel finally get a mention. The odd thing is that until 1906 (when the site was listed as vacant) there was a Cosmopolitan Hotel at 101 West Cordova.

Mr David Gibb and his son built the hotel – the architects were Dalton and Eveleigh, and the Gibbs spent $16,000 on the site (according to a report in the Province newspaper in October 1905) and $25,000 on building the hotel. The report said they had already commenced construction of a three storey cut sandstone 40 room hotel. The newspaper report also explained how the site had previously been owned by Mr W J Van Houten and his associates who had previously planned a hotel deal with another party which had fallen through.

In 1910 the owners were Robert Atkins and Andrew Johnson. They ran a cartage business in the 1890s, sold up and built the Pacific Transfer Co warehouse on East Cordova in 1903, and owned two other hotels before the Burrard. In 1912 Andy Johnson had a $5,000 permit to alter the hotel with Tolman & Co as the architect/builders. Tolman & Co were builders rather than architects; they also built Israel Powell’s Ashnola Apartments on Main Street at East 6th Avenue. At some point the building had a fourth floor added – perhaps that was the work Mr. Johnson commissioned.

By 1919 the owner was Neil Cummins, who lived in New Westminster. The hotel had already transitioned in part to residential use; an auto salvage worker, a bartender at the Rainier Hotel, a carpenter and a clerk all listed the hotel as their residence. Three years later only the owners, Mr Cummins, and his partner Frank Vinnicombe were listed as living at the hotel.

Our picture shows the hotel in 1933 – it seems to have been demolished in the early 1940s. The last directory entry is in 1940, when for some reason the address switched to Homer Street. In 1941 the hotel name lives on, but attached to a property on the 700 block of Richards Street. The site became a parking lot until the construction of the parkade that’s still there in 1954, which gained an extra two floors in 1978 when it was linked to the Harbour Centre redevelopment. The parkade structure on the other end of the block is older, dating back to 1933.

Picture source, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4408, Province newspaper extract from Heritage Vancouver.



Posted 22 October 2012 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Bodega Hotel – Carrall Street

There’s been a Bodega Hotel on Carrall Street since 1887, soon after the fire that devastated the months old new city. This isn’t it – the original wooden hotel lasted just 13 years. (The first Bodega is on the left in the postcard below – from around 1889). Joe Fortes, when he wasn’t at English Bay, was the barman in the hotel’s saloon.

The building we see today is the 1900 replacement, built in more fire-proof materials and on a grander scale. J W Mallory (he was John Wesley Mallory) was the architect, and it’s the only surviving building he designed, in this case for John B Lovell. Lovell was an absentee landlord. Like the owner of the building to the north, the Alhambra Hotel, Lovell lived in Victoria. He was born in Buckinghamshire in England in 1831, moved with his family to the United States and then Canada in 1842. He moved to Victoria in 1858, and then on to the Cariboo where he mined in the gold rush, established a mercantile company and became postmaster in Glenora. He may well have known George Byrnes, the owner of the Alhambra/Byrnes Block as Byrnes was an auctioneer in Barkerville, and Lovell was a founding member of the Cariboo Masonic Lodge based in Barkerville.

He returned to Victoria before 1879 and managed the BC Co-operative Company store on Douglas Street. In 1891 he was the census commissioner for the city of Victoria and in 1892 he was elected an Alderman and served on the Board of School Trustees from 1892 to 1896. Although the 1901 Census shows him as being retired, his retirement was presumably quite active as he built the Bodega in 1900. He also paid for repairs to 121 Water Street, a site he had bought from the Methodist Church in 1888. He died in 1915.

In 1905 The Bodega was only the name of the saloon; the rooms upstairs were called the Oakland Rooming House. By 1910 they were back to the Bodega Rooming House. By 1920 it was the Bodega Cafe and the Bodega Hotel was upstairs and in 1926 the name changed to the Fraser Hotel, a name it retained for many decades – our image shows it in 1978. (Whether intentional or not, the name was appropriate as Angus Fraser’s house had stood on the site as early as 1877). Like most of the hotels in the area, the hotel eventually returned to being a rooming house, but in 1993 it was one of the earliest live-work studio condo conversions, designed by Marshall Fisher Architects. Today, among the retail tenants is LynnSteven, a clothing store with an award-winning MGB designed interior.


Posted 20 October 2012 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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The Bayview Hotel – 514 West Cordova Street

This rather simple 2-storey building was at 514 Cordova, away from the established centre of Gastown, but close to the CPR station. It sat in the middle of the block and in this picture dating back to 1887, just a year after the fire, you can see that the sidewalk has been levelled but the road still needs to be raised to meet it. The US Consular Agency were downstairs (with a huge Stars and Stripes on the roof), while upstairs William Kent and Eugene Talcott kept the Bayview Hotel. A variety of other tenants are listed – three with the designation ‘captain’ (Jones, Rogers and Holmes), E Teather an artist was here, as was Septimus Gough, an organist. At 518 John Canning kept a fruit store. By 1901 street renumbering had changed it to 614 West Cordova, the building was home to the BC Mining and Prospecting Exchange and the hotel was listed as The Grand.

In 1906 Dalton and Eveleigh were hired to rebuild and expand the hotel on only two-thirds of the original site, and combining elements of earlier names it became Austin’s Grand View Hotel . (That’s it on the left in 1913, photographed across the construction site for the new station building). Grandview HotelProprietor Alf Austin played up his English roots (and sold Bass Burton Ale on Draught.

A smaller building to the west housed the Park Rooms, designed by Maclure and Fox for H M Daly in 1911. To the east R J McDonald was hired by F W Padmore to design a much taller, narrow building completed in 1912 by W M Horie at a cost of $64,000. (There were two sequential permits for $50,000 and another for $14,000 – presumably signalling Mr Padmore’s decision to make the building taller). By 1925 this had become the Almer Hotel. By 1959 the block was run down, and the western end was cleared and replaced with the parking garage we see today. A few years later the St Francis and Almer Hotels were cleared away for 333 Seymour, designed by Tudor and Walters.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str P99


Posted 17 October 2012 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Klondike Hotel – Carrall Street

Here’s the Blarney Stone (today’s name) as it was 99 years ago, by then called the Klondike Hotel and run by John Corrella (who seemed to be called Carralli in 1905, and while still in the building, was a tailor). In 1912 when the picture was taken it was already nearly 25 years old, having been built in 1889 as the Town and Robinson Block. We have featured a number of buildings designed by C O Wickenden – almost all of them now gone. This is one of the rare survivors, built by McGhie and McLuckie at two storeys, matching the other three buildings on the block (The AbramsGlory Hotel and Ferguson Blocks). (For some strange reason there’s a suggestion it was originally four storeys – there’s no evidence that it was ever bigger or any different from the building we see today).

Town and Robinson were almost certainly Henry Town and Isaac Robinson; both from England, and in Isaac’s case, as far as we can tell, never a Canadian resident. They developed several other properties including hotels on both Abbott and Water Street. The Daily World tells us Isaac Robinson was also a director of the Vancouver City Land Company, while Henry Town was of Arkley House, High Barnet. Both men were involved in a syndicate called the Vancouver Land Securities Corporation. Henry, who made his money in South Africa from diamonds, was married to the sister of prominent Vancouver realtors and developers the Rand Brothers, (from Nova Scotia) and towards the end of the 19th Century moved to the city.

In 1889 the insurance map identifies it as having a vacant unit in the north half, and a crockery store to the south. Later it clearly incorporated the Klondike Hotel (visible in the 1913 picture) although in 1901 the Klondike is shown (both on maps and in the directory) as being in the Abrams Block to the south. In 1901 the Town and Robinson building was called the King’s Hotel – by 1978 that name had moved back to the Abrams Block to the south. So basically the Klondike and Kings Hotel names appear to switch between the two adjacent buildings over the years. We don’t know if that actually happened, or the directory staff used the hotel bars to refresh themselves at the expense of accuracy.

Over the years the tenants changed many times. In 1895 Mrs Sarah Gorman, a nurse, lived in the building and Creamer and Langley operated a plumbing supply business. Once it became the Klondike (almost always listed in the directory as the Klondyke), it stayed under that name for many years. By 1925 Angelo Pallazzo had a tobacco store in the ground floor, and by 1930 it was the New Cafe. By 1935 it had become the Government Liquor Store – said to be the first in the city. More recently it has been an Irish pub, and has been established a lot longer than many of the other bars and restaurants that have joined it in more recent years.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 359-36


Union Bank – West Hastings and Seymour – se corner

The Union Bank of Canada was built at the corner of West Hastings and Seymour, next to the Innes Thompson Building, in 1920. The Union Bank was started in Quebec, but moved to Winnipeg and became the prairie bank, following the railway westwards as towns sprang up. Crossing into British Columbia took a little longer, and the first appearance of the bank here wasn’t until 1907 when they occupied the premises of a wine and spirits store at the corner of Seymour and Hastings.

The bank made some alterations in 1910, and commissioned a new building at 97 Cordova Street in the same year, but it wasn’t until 1919 that they made their grand move, commissioning Somervell and Putnam to design their last commission in the city, a seriously retro temple bank (in an era when far simpler buildings were starting to come into fashion). (We featured an earlier Somervell and Putnam temple bank at Pender and Granville).

Not long after their new branch was built the Union Bank, finding itself over-extended, was forced to merge with the Royal Bank (in 1925). The Royal Bank already had a significant Vancouver presence, so they passed the Seymour building on to the Bank of Toronto, who in turn merged in 1955 with the Dominion Bank, but maintained a presence in the building until 1984. Our VPL image dates to 1939, when the Bank of Toronto was operating here.

Plans for the demolition of the building had actually been approved until protest from the Community Arts Council (before there was a Heritage Vancouver) saved it, and a revised redevelopment project (that saw the Innes-Thompson block demolished) preserve the building. The architects claimed it was impossible to save the Innes-Thompson facade as well. The Union Bank sat empty for several years, and it wasn’t until 2000 that the new use for the building was completed, with Architectura designing the award-winning Morris J Wosk Centre for Dialogue for Simon Fraser University. The building next door, the Delta Suites hotel by Aitken Wreglesworth, carefully picks up the scale and rhythm of the bank facade in the lower floors.


Innes-Thompson Block – West Hastings Street

Across the street from the Thompson Ogle Building (as it was known in 1901, although it appears to have been developed by Innes and Richards), C O Wickenden designed a commercial building in 1889. It was a three bay building, mixing stone and red brick with a complex pattern under the cornice. The building stood for over a century before being demolished – here it is in 1981, dwarfed by the Standard Building next door. (And hasn’t that tree grown well in 30 years?)

The ‘Vancouver World’ published a supplement in 1890 which managed to illustrate it as the Innes-Thompson Block, and confusingly then refer to it in print as the Innes-Townley Block. F C Innes was undoubtedly one half of the development team. Like other important Vancouver developers R V Winch, G E Bower and Walter Gravely, Innes was a native of Cobourg in Ontario. He arrived in Vancouver in 1884 and teamed up in 1887 with Stephen O Richards (of Toronto) to operate one of the most dynamic real estate, insurance and brokerage firms in the city. Innes was third in line when the sale of Canadian Pacific lots was first offered. An 1890 profile said “They own and control some of the most desirable property in the city”. In 1888 he hired N S Hoffar to design a house on Hastings at Burrard.

We are no further forward in positively identifying the Thompson – if there was a Thompson associated with this building – than we were with the block across the street. However, circumstantially Philip Nairn Thompson looks a likely contender here too; In 1896 Captain P Thompson occupied an office at 512 West Hastings (part of the Innes-Thompson Block) with prominent architect W T Dalton. If Innes partnered with a Townley, J W Townley, superintendent of the CPR in Vancouver is perhaps the more likely candidate.

The building was not demolished until 1993, making way for the Delta Suites hotel in a massive project designed by Aitken Wriglesworth that included Conference Plaza and the retention of the Bank of Toronto next door, later to become the Wosk Centre for Dialogue.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-1311


Thompson-Ogle Building – West Hastings Street

This is another building swallowed by the expanding Spencer retail empire. The Thompson-Ogle building (as it was identified on the 1901 insurance map of the city) was the earliest on the block. It’s the second building to the east of the Molson Bank in this picture. We don’t know who designed it, but it was completed before 1889 – it’s the only building on the block on the 1889 insurance map. However, it apparently took a while to complete; the 1890 Directory describes the building as ‘4 stores, unfinished’. By 1901 it was known as the Thompson-Ogle Building, and labeled that way on the insurance map, but it actually started life as the Innes & Richards Building – seen in this 1890 Daily World illustration.

by 1891 the first tenants have moved in; a number of civil engineers and the all-encompassing Vancouver Loan, Trust Saving and Guarantee Co, whose principle was H T Ceperley. Henry Tracy Ceperley was from New York state, a former Montana rancher who arrived in 1886 and went on to become one of the most important real estate brokers in the city. His long-time business partner, Frank Rounsfell was also with the VLTS&G Co, as bookeeper.

Our main 1900 picture shows the four bay building, the outer bays on the top floor with triple windows of Romanesque curved arches, the centre bays with a larger single arched window. In case you were wondering, that’s the Tsimpsian brass band marching past.

We don’t know for sure who the Thompson in the ownership of the Thompson Ogle Building was. There are only a handful of candidates, with the most likely being Philip Nairn Thompson, a wealthy Ottawa native who had moved to Vancouver by 1891, some years later joined by his brother and married sister. In 1891 the Williams Directory identifies the corner of Pender and Howe as having the Thompson Block, (possibly designed by R M Fripp) while Henderson’s Directory for the same year identifies the address for Captain Philip Thompson as being 504 Howe (the corner of Pender Street). In the 1898 Voter’s List Philip N Thompson was one of only two people in the entire list whose occupation was described as ‘gentleman’. Captain Thompson died in 1934, still in Vancouver, and reported in the Ottawa obitiary as being single. We’re suspect that Thompson also developed the Innes-Thompson block on the opposite side of Hastings.

We think that the Ogle is most likely to be Edmund W Ogle, a Sheffield native whose sister-in-law had married pioneer John Morton. Ogle was in business with dry goods and clothing, buying Dan Drysdale’s business in New Westminster when his Vancouver store was destroyed in the 1886 fire. Ogle stayed in New Westminster, but by 1896 like Thompson was also living on Howe Street.

The building was redeveloped in 1903 by Drysdale and Stevenson at a cost of $30,000. Wickenden’s Roman arches were replaced by Parr and Fee’s trademark white glazed bricks. In 1906 David Spencer managed to get into Vancouver’s retail market by buying first Charles Stevenson’s half share, and then in 1907 Gordon Drysdale’s other half of Drysdale-Stevenson. The Spencer family immediately started on the road to increasing and modernising the business.

Despite the Spencer company intention to rebuild the entire block, this structure stayed as part of the store until it was demolished in the early 1970s to be replaced by the Harbour Centre development.

Nearer to us is a building we believe to be the Tatlow Block, developed in 1889 by R G Tatlow and designed by C O Wickenden

Image source, City of Vancouver Archives In P120.1, VPL


Molson Bank – West Hastings and Seymour – ne corner

In 1898 the Quebec based Molson Bank established a bank in Vancouver. Founded by two of brewer John Molson’s sons, the bank built several branches in the city before merging with the Bank of Montreal in 1925. Montreal architects Taylor and Gordon designed the building in a Romanesque style with more than a hint of Venetian about it. Here’s how it was pictured in the year after it was completed. The style was very different from the Scottish baronial they followed for their other Vancouver commission, the Bank of Montreal on Granville Street.

In 1925 (perhaps reflecting the Bank of Montreal takeover) Spencers department store took over the building to consolidate their ownership of the entire block face. Their new store at the eastern end of the block, designed by McCarter and Nairne, was completed in 1925 but only partly as  planned. Only 100 feet of frontage was built, and the remaining buildings on the block were retained and reworked into the Spencers store. This 1926 illustration shows that Spencers had much more grand plans to fill the entire lot., and explains why the existing frontage has a corner feature that isn’t replicated on the western end.

In fact, the Molson Bank building lasted all the way to 1973, as part of the Spencers (and later Eatons) store, until their move the Pacific Centre Mall, and the clearance of the site for the Harbour Centre which took place in 1973.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA M-11-29


Harbour Centre – West Hastings Street

With the closure of Sears in Pacific Centre, it’s interesting to look back 31 years to their earlier location. The Harbour Centre project was completed in 1976 and Simpson-Sears were the retail anchor. Their store occupied the lower floors of the new building adjacent to the Spencer’s department store that had been incorporated into the project. (Spencers became Eatons in 1948, but then moved out in 1972 to their new Pacific Centre Mall location. When Eatons were bought by Sears a few years ago, the Sears name returned to Downtown Vancouver once more).

Back in the mid 70s the tower and viewing platform became the Sears Tower, and this 1981 image shows how the Harbour Centre looked when Sears were still there. Initially the project was known as Vancouver Square, a much more daring design by local architects Paine and Associates and Eng + Wright. The simpler, and more brutal version we have today was designed by Webb Zerafa Menkès Housden.

The location wasn’t a great success, and Sears closed on New Years Day 1987. The windowless box that worked as a department store was converted by adding office windows, and the Harbour Lookout became the best viewing opportunity in the city.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E05.09


West Cordova Street – 600 block

We’ve seen this corner before with the St Francis Hotel, but in 1888 at the corner of Cordova and Seymour the White Swan Hotel welcomed travellers, with the American Restaurant run by H Summers. W H Crumer and William Summers, both carpenters also lived there. S D Somes was proprietor, although two years later James Summers was owner and Edgar Summers was tending bar.

The rest of the block had an extraordinary mix of tenants – at 504 Henry Mellon operated his marine insurance office (and later estate agency) – as a bonus after 1891 was also the Spanish Consul. At 510 Gardiner Johnson (later Leask and Johnson, when Mr Leask combined his business and moved from next door from 512) were shipping agents, and Walter Boultbee had his office as well as the Atlantic Coal Co.

At 512 there was a law office – Fenwick William Johnstone was here in 1890 and Corbould and McColl, barristers had their offices in 1898. In 1891 the Bayview Hotel was at 514 with a lumber agent downstairs, and John Canning now a printer, shared premises with E Teather, an artist.

The U S Consulate operated from 516, with Charles M Bolton running things and sharing premises with the Canadian Pacific Steamship Line offices. By 1898 John Murchie of the Orient Tea Company was next door at 518, replacing John Canning, a fruit dealer. Lees and Dawson, an estate agents office were replaced by A B Diplock and Co offered ‘Artistic Decorations’ from 520, as well as selling Brinsmeads pianos. The CPR had their superintendent’s office at 524, .

Before 1901 the block was renumbered to 600.  It was rebuilt with hotels and small retail buildings soon after the turn of the century – the CPR station was just across the street – and things stayed unchanged for many years. 1959 saw the construction of a Reid Jones Christopherson designed parkade on the Granville Street corner, and in 1985 the Seymour corner was redeveloped with the chrome and black glass tower designed by Tudor and Walters.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Str P360