500 block Seymour Street – west side (1)

500 blk Seymour 1936

Here is a small section of the west side of Seymour Street with two very different scales of building. The office building to the north is Somervell & Putnam’s design for the Yorkshire Guarantee and Securities Corporation Ltd in 1912 – later renamed as the Seymour Building.

The three small houses are earlier than we expected, and older than any useful records could tell us who built them. They were shown on the 1901 insurance map, and although the addresses on this stretch of Seymour were changed from the 300 block to the 500 block in the early 1890s, and renumbered again around the turn of the century, we’re pretty sure they were there as far back as 1887. In 1898 Silas Sweet, a contractor and William Stickney were here. Sweet had been in the same location since at least 1892, when he was living at 521, the Illingworth family were living next door at 525 and T T Black, a lawyer and agent of the Queen’s Insurance Company was at 529. We know the street numbers changed because in 1889 Mr Black was in the same location but at 331 Seymour. He was listed, rather comprehensively as ‘Black, Thomas Thompson, solicitor, notary public, commissioner to administer oaths in the Superior Court of B.C.’ He had an office on Oppenheimer, and lived on Seymour. From 1887 to 1892 he was the police magistrate and City Solicitor, (a contract job), who denied bail to the three arrested anti-Chinese rioters (only to have the magistrate overturn that decision).

Assuming the houses dated back to 1887, they lasted around 40 years. Although the Vancouver Public Library record says this image is from 1936, the houses were replaced with the current building in 1929, so the image must be earlier. The houses were used as businesses which are said to include the Wong Kee Laundry and G.A. Roedde Ltd. We can’t find any record of Roedde actually being based here, but Wong’s Laundry was here in 1928.

The new Georgian style building had two occupants in 1931; the Sunken Garden Golf Course and the Georgian Club (who developed the building). The mysteriously titled golf club didn’t seem to last very long, but the club were here for several years, joined in the mid 1930s by the Georgian Garage (presumably at the back of the building) and BC Upholstery. The building, which is on the heritage register, is now home to MTI Community College, a restaurant, and the International Language Schools. It was designed by Sydney Eveleigh, one of the few buildings we know he designed on his own after ending his partnership with W T Dalton (when Dalton retired in 1922).

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Posted March 14, 2014 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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