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.

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