Palace Hotel & Chelsea Inn – West Hastings Street

33 & 37 W Hastings

Today they’re the Palace Hotel and the Chelsea Inn – a pair of apparently mis-matched Single Room Occupancy Hotels. When it was built the whole property was one – the Palace Hotel (so the lack of symmetry is puzzling). In 1907 Schmehl & Muller were the proprietors – William C Schmehl and Charles G Muller. Muller lived at 1127 Robson and Schmehl at 1749 Davie Street. They were the proprietors of the Palace Hotel in 1906 as well – but then it was in a different location at the corner of Hastings and Carrall, with the Palace Restaurant at 345 Carrall. That building – although substantial – was demolished for a new bank. Muller was first seen in the city in 1901, a boarder living (presumably in the Palace Hotel) who had arrived from Germany in 1895 aged 21, and who already was listed as proprietor of the Palace Hotel in 1901 when he was aged 26. 

That same year Schmehl appeared in the city for the first time as Schnell, and then Schnehl, in 1902, although he missed the 1901 census in Vancouver. As William has a grave in Mountain View Cemetery, we know he was born in 1876 so was slightly younger than Charles. In May 1901 he married Kathleen, eight years younger and born in Galway in Ireland, and from the marriage licence we know that William was born in Dodge County in the United States. Kathleen was living with her married sister, Phyllis Bailing, in Vancouver two months before her wedding, and had arrived in Canada with her family when she was only 3 years old in 1884. The 1891 census shows her family were already in Vancouver, and her father, Henry Avison, was the park ranger, living in Stanley Park. Kathleen’s early life must have been unusual; her father captured an orphaned black bear cub and chained it to a stump ‘for safety’ in 1888. Avison was subsequently named city pound keeper, and his collection of animals formed the basis for the original Stanley Park zoo. Some reports say he died in 1896, but a recent history of Stanley Park says he actually quit to go to search for Klondyke gold – in 1901 he was still living in the “Unorganized Territories”.

The 1911 census shows that Charles Muller has married Matilda, from Prince Edward Island, and they have three children aged 6, 4 and 1. They also have a domestic servant living with them, and William and Mata Schlitz (William was a grocer) were lodging with them. William Schmehl once again seems to have eluded the census takers, although he’s still listed in the street directory, in the same house on Davie. He’s no longer associated with the Palace; he has a new partnership with Lorenzo D Wright as Schmehl & Wright supplying liquor on E Hastings. Wright had previously been in the tobacco and cigar trade.

Palace 1912From 1912 the hotel seems to have a new proprietor at least every year. Norman Herman was running the hotel in 1912 (and Albert Herman had architect J S Pearce design $10,000 of improvements that year).  The next year it was Pennebera and Masilotto; in 1914 it was D F Pennebera on his own who was proprietor. The only change to the advertisement in the street directory was the name of the proprietors – although in 1913 the Excellent Cafe was noted, with Marino’s Orchestra In attendance. In 1915 Samuel Albert was running the hotel, and a year later Horace Robertson was manager (for 2 years running) while it was owned by Lawrence Reda of North Vancouver. In 1918 it became the Palace Rooms, and John Cameron was managing, and in 1920 the owner was listed as Lorenzo Reda. The hotel itself seems to have become Allen’s Rooms, a second building operating under the same name and management of Robert Allen (who also ran Allen’s Cafe and Rooms at 814 Granville Street). That’s the year our VPL image was taken.

After a period when the building was apparently vacant, by 1930 there were two separate operations (as today) – the Oxford Hotel and the Palace Hotel. Today both buildings are still rooms; the Palace owned until very recently by a controversial landlord who was prosecuted for a number of breaches of tenancy law. Our picture from 1978 below shows that there have been very few changes to the buildings over many decades.

33 & 37 W Hastings 2

 Although there’s no known architect for the building, it’s quite possible Emil Guenther designed this version of the Palace – Charles G Muller hired him to design an apartment block in the West End in 1912 on Robson, near Thurlow. Guenther was almost certainly German (although he seems to have changed his name) and practiced in Vancouver up to 1907 when this building was designed, before heading to San Francisco for five years, returning briefly in 1912.

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: