Archive for January 2014

First Baptist Church – Burrard Street (1)

Burrard Baptist

We caught a glimpse of this church in the previous post. Like Christ Church to the north, the church is the original on the site, on the north-west corner with Nelson Street. It was even a vacant site before the church was built – there were no previous structures here before the building permit was taken out in 1909. That’s not true to the south, where there were houses before St Andrews Wesley was built, as we saw in an earlier post. The cost of the church was $75,000, and the builders were Matheson & Heard. The architect was listed as ‘Burk’ – although really that was Burke, Horwood and White, based in Toronto and also responsible for the Hudson’s Bay store design. It was completed in 1911 in a Gothic Revival style, although the interior is newer. A 1931 fire destroyed the original interior and roof, and the replacement was more Arts and Crafts in style.

The rebuilding was led by Charles Bentall, a member of the church, who he was present in 1911 when the cornerstone was laid in 1910 by John Morton, one of the three original purchasers of the West End land holdings. Bentall was president of the Baptist Union of Western Canada from 1929 for four years, as well as head of Dominion Construction, He had been superintendent of the Sunday School on Burrard for many years although by 1928 he attended the Grandview Baptist Church – a more modest frame building. Bentall personally supervised the reconstruction – he even took a trip to the eastern US to source acoustic tile for the ceiling to sound proof the structure. This 1914 image shows the church three years after it was completed.

While there have been few changes to the church since the 1930s reconstruction, that may not stay true for much longer. The rezoning of the adjacent YMCA building, with a residential tower to fund the reconstruction and heritage restoration of that building also included a future tower behind the Baptist church.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives LGN 1239


Posted January 31, 2014 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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Burrard Street – north from Nelson Street

Burrard from Nelson 2

In many of the images we publish the contemporary view is of street trees, added over recent years, that makes seeing the buildings behind more difficult. That’s not the case on Burrard Street – back in 1923 the street foliage was every bit as lush as it is today (if not more so). Burrard was really a wide boulevard residential street then – it didn’t really go anywhere to the south; (the Burrard Bridge wasn’t built until 1930). We’re standing in the middle of Burrard at Nelson Street, so that’s the First Baptist church on the left, built in 1911, and houses in the 900 block of Burrard Street on the right.

Unlike the houses on the 700 block, (a couple of blocks down the hill, on the right) we do know who designed and built the houses on this block – or at least, several of them (even if you can’t really see them for the trees!) Thomas Fee, architect partner to John Parr, designed and built four of the houses – presumably as investments. During his career as well as designing dozens of buildings for clients throughout the city T A Fee would build projects for himself costing tens of thousands of dollars. These houses were early investments, and more modest. They were among an impressive list of houses built by Fee in the West End – he seems to have bought several blocks of land and then built houses from at least 1901 to 1904. We don’t have records currently available before 1901, but it seems likely that there were earlier dwellings also built by Fee on the eastern (right) side here.

900 Burrard 1912This 1914 detail from an aerial view from the second Hotel Vancouver shows the back of the houses. In 1904 J H Field had the double lot on the corner of Nelson Street, (on the far right of the main picture, towards the left of the aerial shot) and added a second house at a cost of $950. The large house, four blocks up at 970 Burrard was a Fee investment, built in 1901 at a cost of $2,500. Further up the street at 940 and 946 Fee built two houses in 1901, one of them costing $3,000, while next door at 932 he built an even larger home – the foundation stonework cost $2,000 in 1902. Most of the houses closer to Nelson were built a few years before 1901; it was likely to be a popular location as the Dawson Public School was just a block to the south, across from St Paul’s Hospital.

The building down the hill on the left is Irwinton Court – still standing today and built by C N Davidson in 1912 to Braunton and Leibert’s design at a cost of $132,000. The two apparently vacant areas of land on the left before the apartments are the gardens of Hillside Hall (a private hospital in 1906, although by 1923 a rooming house) on the south side of Barclay Street, and the playing area of the Aberdeen School (built in 1912 for $135,000) on the north side. Behind the trees on the 800 block, beyond that, were more houses, all built before 1900, on both sides of Burrard Street.

Today, on the left is the newly restored YMCA facade with the Patina condo tower behind, the Sutton Place Hotel, and off in the distance the towers of the Royal Centre. To the east is the Dal Grauer electrical Substation with the Scotiabank cinema and Electric Avenue condos above and beyond that 800 and 850 Burrard, a 1980s condo and office development designed by Eng and Wright with two distinctly different elements on a single lot.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str N181; extract from William Moore panoramic photo, CVA PAN N218


Posted January 29, 2014 by ChangingCity in Altered, West End

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Burrard Street – 700 block

800 block Burrard

We’ve looked at both the buildings that are standing today in this image. On the left (east) is the edge of the third Hotel Vancouver, while on the right is the 1950s City Library building. As the 1900 photograph shows, there was development here before of a very different character. These were very recently completed speculative houses, and we haven’t been able to identify who built them. In 1901 the first house was occupied by Frank S Findley, an ‘agent’ born in PEI who lived there with his BC-born wife Hattie and their two daughters. Next door was Robert Hamilton from Ontario of the William Hamilton Manufacturing Co, with his American wife Kate, and their son Charles Cornell – presumably Kate’s son from an earlier marriage. They had a Chinese servant as well.

James A Fullerton, an Englishman who was listed as ‘ship’s husband’ for the CPR lived in the next house with his wife Meg and their son Ross, and a domestic servant, Effie Craig. His job was, the legal dictionary says, “an agent appointed by the owner of a ship, and invested with authority to make the requisite repairs, and attend to the management, equipment, and other concerns of the ship he is usually authorized to act as the general agent of the owners, in relation to the ship in her home port.” It looks as if the Fullertons had been in Quebec for some time before moving to BC; Meg was born there, and so was their son.

Next door to them Miss Elizabeth Roycroft was listed as homeowner, although the census suggests William Roycraft was the head of household and his much younger sisters, Eliza and Eleanor were living there too, along with the Robinson Family, Charles and Amy and their 3-year old daughter. The Roycrafts were from Ireland; William was aged 74 while Eliza and Eleanor were aged 45 and 55. Scottish-born Hugh Youdall lived in the next house, a commissioners agent for H J Thorpe & Co, with Bertha, his American wife and their two sons and daughter, the oldest aged 21 having been born in Newfoundland. George Baldwin, a builder, was in the last house with Minnie, his wife, and two sons, Harold and Sidney. Both Baldwin’s had English ancestry although George was born in Quebec and Minnie in Nova Scotia.

The names of the occupants of this row of houses changes constantly over the next couple of decades – every two years there’s an almost completely different set of residents, perhaps suggesting that some were rented rather than owned. By 1930 most of the addresses had ceased to exist (as the Hotel Vancouver started construction) – although the three on the right lasted longer. By 1940 744 had gone, replaced by a used car lot, but 746 and 748 were still both standing and operating as rooming houses, still standing at the end of the war, but gone by 1950.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str P13


Posted January 27, 2014 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

The Province Building – 140 West Hastings (2)

The Province Building v2 140 W Hastings

We’ve seen this building, and examined its history in an earlier post. Here it is again, but now restored to something much closer to its earlier appearance. In the previous post the building was in a somewhat dilapidated state, and for sale. Now restored to something close to it’s 1920s Townley and Matheson redesign, the building joins others on this transformed block in offering office and retail space. Now the only building on the block that really needs attention is the former Stock Exchange, next door.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1399-546


Posted January 24, 2014 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Christ Church – Georgia and Burrard

Christ Church

We’ve made several references to one of the city’s earliest churches, but we haven’t actually given it a post. It dates back to 1889 – or at least, the basement floor does. The congregation of 52 first met that year in the basement – apparently nicknamed the ‘root house’ at the time, but took a while to get the necessary finances together to compl;ete the building.

Despite the presence of CPR Executives in the congregation, including Henry Cambie, the company threatened to have the sheriff seize the land as they considered the half-built structure was damaging their land sales nearby. A number of other prominent Anglicans helped out, including Lacey Johnson, Henry Ceperley and W J Salsbury. J.W. Weart – a law student at the time – came up with a complicated scheme to establish a company that issued $40,000 of stock, and on the strength of the $4,000 raised by the parishioners then borrowed $18,000 on a mortgage from the Sun Life Insurance Company to pay for the building.

C O Wickenden was given the job of designing the church – not bad for an architect who had only arrived in the city the year before. Once building of thev main structure started – in July 1894 – things went fast and the church dedication service was in February 1895. The completed church is shown in this early picture (around 1900), and today it’s quite a bit bigger. In 1909 the first addition was completed, designed by Dalton and Eveleigh. The building was lengthened and widened to the north and a balcony added, increasing seating capacity to 1,200.

In 1929 the Archbishop of New Westminster constituted Christ Church as the Cathedral Church of the Diocese, and the bishop’s throne was moved from Holy Trinity in New Westminster. A year later the cathedral planned to expand again – this time designed by Twizell and Twizell. The land was acquired using funds from the estate of E D Farmer – the Fort Worth based real estate baron who built the Farmer Block, and who had died in 1924. The actual construction didn’t take place until 1937, once the depression was over. That’s pretty much the building you see today – although there has been extensive restoration and the roof and floor have been restored to their original appearance.

A 1970s proposal to demolish the church and replace it with an Arthur Erickson tower (that would incorporate a new church space) raised massive opposition. Instead a scheme was devised to allow the development potential of the site to be added to the adjacent site (Park Place – completed in 1984) and the cathedral became a designated heritage building. This was the first of many similar density transfer projects that has allowed some of the city’s older buildings to be saved – and even somewhat ironically an Arthur Erickson office building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1376-174


East Pender Street – unit block (1)

Pender & Carrall east

We’ve seen the building on the left of this 1929 image in an earlier post – it’s the Wing Sang building developed over several years by Yip Sang’s company. We’re about half way up the block between Carrall and Columbia, looking east. Next door was a building that we haven’t been able to identify. It was there in 1903, and there were alterations in 1909 carried out by Duck Chew Lim, and more by Fong Lim in 1915 and Jim Lim in 1917. In 2008 a new building was completed; ‘East’, a 22 unit condo project over retail, designed by Walter Francl Architects.

Beyond that, in 1911, Campbell and Dawson were hired by Lang Kwan to build a $9,500 building that’s still standing today, albeit very much changed. In 1915 W H Chow apparently signed the drawings for the building that was eventually built. In the 1920s it became the home of the Cheng Wing Yeong Tong Society Building. H H Simmonds designed the third floor addition, completed in 1926 to create the Tong headquarters with a recessed balcony and pediment-capped parapet. It was home to the Ho Inn chop suey house in the early 1970, (not to be confused with the Ho Ho), was damaged, and rebuilt after a fire in 1991.

The two storey building beyond it was designed by Emil Guenther for Loo Gee Wing, another of Chinatown’s merchant developers in 1904. It’s still standing, although it’s been changed. Across Columbia Street was the Great Northern Hotel (built as the Avenue Hotel), and also altered.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-2463


East Pender and Columbia Street (2)

Columbia Block 1972

Over the forty plus years since the earlier view of this building, relatively little changed on the building originally designed by R T Perry for Sam Kee. In 1935 they were the Tung Ah Rooms; they were still called that two decades later. Just as in 1929 W Santien and Co were occupying the store: but instead of dry goods they sold men’s furnishings – they were still there ten years later as well.  Next door was Tom’s Taxis and the Sen Sen barber’s store; in 1955 it had become the Joyland Arcade. At 107 in 1945 was Way Lee’s confectionary store;  ten years later the Dai Yew Club operated. By 1972 when this picture was taken Con’s Appliances occupied the main floor and the rooms upstairs hadn’t changed their name – they were still the Tung Ah Rooms, although the building had been tidied up and named the Columbia Block. A VPL shot from 1961 show’s Con;s was already established in the building then.

In 1974 the rooms were closed as a result of new City by-laws. It was closed down for seven years, and reopened in 1981 with an additional floor. It had fewer, quite a bit larger rooms, but they were still small. The developers were the Dart Coon Club – an organisation loosely associated with the Chinese Freemasons. The Club still exists, but have their club premises on the other side of the street, but they administer the rooms here. The Chinese Freemasons included Harry Con, who ran Con’s Appliances and was also active in the Strathcona Property Owners and Tenants Association who eventually stopped the redevelopment of the entire Strathcona area. In 1967 he had published the first history of Canada written in Chinese, and in 1982 was awarded the Order of Canada. They hired Joe Wai to design the renovated store fronts and third floor addition.

Today the Chinese Tea Shop have their store here, and along Columbia are three newly opened ‘pop-up’ stores. Three murals, added in 2010, show the Wah Chong Laundry (which was on Water Street), Chinese men in 1936, and a 1905 merchant called Lee Chong. The artist is Arthur Shu Ren Cheng and the work was initiated by the Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Association.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-451


Posted January 13, 2014 by ChangingCity in Altered, Chinatown, Still Standing

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