We’ve viewed this block – or at least a few of the buildings – from the other end. We’ve identified the Selkirk Block, (about halfway down the block) and the former YMCA that became the Hotel Astor. At the eastern end of the street we’re looking at the first building in Woodward’s new departmental store – the company having originally set up further east at Main and Georgia in 1892. This image (although dated in the Archives as c.1900) shows the street as it looked in around 1904. The foundation for the new store was laid in June 1903, and it was completed as fast as possible. W T Whiteway was the architect, E Cook the builder, at the cost was $60,000. It was a four storey ‘brick and stick’ construction – a heavy wooden frame with a brick facade. A few years later Smith and Goodfellow designed the $35,000 vertical addition (in 1910). Three years later the store got a huge further addition, a $100,000 westwards extension designed by George Wenyon with a steel and concrete frame.
We’ve been unable to identify the two-storey building that was demolished to make way for the 1913 addition. It was built after 1903 – that year the site is clear (and it looks to be under construction in this image). The first name of a business appears in 1905 when John A Flett was running a hardware store, presumably in the new building. A year later they’re joined by White & Bindon, stationers, J W Gilmer selling carpets and Richard Mills, boots and shoes. In 1908 the hardware and stationers are still there, but the other tenants are the American Type Founders Co, Fraser and Pride clothing and H E Munday had the boot and shoe store. In 1909 the building was apparently owned by Mahon, McFarland & Mahon who paid for alterations to the storefront.
Today just the 1903 store still stands – looking more like the 1903 photo today than it has for a century. The Woodwards redevelopment (designed by Henriquez Partners for Westbank) retained the wood-frame building but added a concrete reinforcement on the western facade to give the old frame seismic stability, while the brick facade was tied back and the original lettering was faithfully restored after being covered in layers of paint for decades. New retail uses including a TD Bank now sit underneath office space, while further west the new part of the project here included non-market housing and Simon Fraser Universities Arts campus, as well as a London Drugs store.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-2102