Archive for March 2014

1376 Hornby Street

1376 Hornby

We previously identified one important architect’s own-designed office that’s still standing last year. Here’s another that, given its modest size, is even less likely to be still standing. How much longer that continues to be true remains to be seen. This was Townley and Matheson’s office, built in 1941 (although not featured in the RAIC Journal until 1948, and so attributed to that date in some sources).

Fred Townley, born in Winnipeg and brought up in Vancouver, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s architecture department in 1911 and had his first designs built here a year later. Robert Matheson was born in PEI, but the family moved to Vancouver where Robert started work as a carpenter before he too headed to the University of Pennsylvania to study architecture, graduating the same year as Townley. On his return to Vancouver he joined his architect father in partnership, and they designed several buildings still standing today – some featured on this blog. Townley and Matheson joined forces in 1919 and became one of the most active architectural firms in the city. Although both were designers, Townley carried out more of the design work while Matheson was said to manage the business and liaise with their clients. They designed the Stock Exchange tower, several schools including Point Grey School, many commercial buildings Downtown and on West Broadway, houses – particularly in Shaughnessy – and of course the new City Hall on West 12th Avenue.

At the height of their success, as City Hall was nearing completion in 1935, Matheson fell ill and died aged only 48. Townley was forced to take over running the company as well as acting as head designer. Matheson’s name was retained on the business (right through to 1974 after both founding partners were dead). This new office was modest in scale but showed the company’s strength in designing clean, modernist structures – continued in many buildings designed by the firm for the Vancouver General Hospital. Townley died in 1966 having helped design over a thousand buildings, almost all in Vancouver.

Today the building is recently abandoned – last used for many years as part of Umberto Menghi’s il Giardino restaurant. Although that business is reported to be reopening elsewhere, it’s reported that the old premises have been sold, and rumours suggest redevelopment will be proposed, although the 1888 Leslie House (just visible on the edge of the photo) is on the Vancouver Heritage Registry.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1399-411


Posted March 10, 2014 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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West Hastings Street – 400 block, south side

400 block W Hastings 2

We’ve previously looked at this view as a postcard. We’ve found this slightly larger version of the image that shows the block in better context, in the early 1900s. The corner building was most recently part of the Vancouver Film School (apparently they’ve now moved on), but it started life in 1903 as the Royal Bank of Canada. Dalton and Eveleigh designed the first classical bank in the city at a cost of $27,000, built of poured concrete with steel reinforcements for the foundations – an innovation which allowed construction of secure vaults with walls over half a metre thick. It was constructed by Vancouver pioneer, Jonathan Rogers although the  owner of the building was technically Jonathan’s wife, Elizabeth. In 1909 he hired Parr and Fee to carry out alterations that cost even more than the original building at $30,000, and again he was the contractor for the work.

Mr Rogers also developed the building next door, It was started in October, and a huge umbrella was raised over the site to allow work in the winter rain. The small building next is the 1904 Bank of Nova Scotia, covered in a recent post. At the end of the block is the Bank of British Columbia, designed by T C Sorby in 1891, and almost unchanged in over 120 years.

400 block W Hastings 3

This 1974 image shows the block looks better now than it did 40 years ago, when it might have been expected to redevelop; at least in part. Fortunately, apart from a 1930s rebuild, the block is almost intact with early buildings.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 677-621 and CVA 780-22


Bank of Nova Scotia – West Hastings Street

Bank of Nova Scotia W Hastings

This is the Bank of Nova Scotia building, built in 1904 and seen here not long after it was completed in a Vancouver Public Library picture. It was designed by Dalton & Eveleigh for Edward Lewis, a Welshman – or maybe he was from Quebec – whose history we detailed in a recent post. W T Dalton lived next door to the Lewis family. The builder was G Horrobin, who also built the Granville Street building designed by Mr Dalton for Mr Lewis in 1902.

There was also another Lewis development designed by Dalton & Eveleigh on the next block of West Hastings, developed in 1903. This building had the neo-classical details that it seems Mr Lewis liked – the Granville Street building had a similar classical pediment. It appears that the upper part of the building wasn’t as solidly built as the stone columns that held it up – which might be a consequence of the $9,000 budget. At some point it was rebuilt with the curved arch we see today.

Looking at the street directories, it appears that when it was first built this wasn’t just the Bank premises; a banking hall and the basement with their vaults. The street directory for 1904 shows Vancouver Hotel had their sample room here as well, and G A Roedde operated his book bindery here. This is incorrect – they were both in the building to the east, 414 W Hastings. (Mr Roedde moved around – we’ve featured two other buildings where he operated his business).  By 1910 the street number had changed (from 418 to 422) and the Bank were still here, as they were in 1918. In 1920 the building isn’t included in the directory, and the bank had moved a couple of blocks to the west. In 1922 it had become 424 West Hastings – and it was still vacant. Finally by 1924 it was occupied by A G Spalding & Bros – the US athletic and sporting goods company whose Vancouver manager was W Bentham. The company stayed there until 1930, but by 1934 it was Goodman’s International Import jewelers and in 1940 it was home to Robinson’s Men’s Clothes store. A decade later it was still a clothing store – Bill Smith’s men’s wear. Today it’s still looking good, and occupied by the Bonchaz Cafe – a company who evolved from the Vancouver Farmers Markets.


McLuckie Building – West Georgia Street

McLuckie Building

This building has been tucked away beside another we’ve looked at in several earlier posts – the Johnston-Howe Block. This is the Georgia Street neighbour, the McLuckie Building, on the corner of Howe Street. It wasn’t built until 1931 and was designed by Townley and Matheson for Robert Macfarlane McLuckie, son of J M McLuckie, one of the city’s more prolific builders, and sometime developer. It doesn’t appear that there was an earlier building on the site until this one; almost unheard of for Vancouver. Once the Courts moved from today’s Victory Square to the Georgia Street Courthouse, the lawyers moved as well, and this building (like one earlier on Hastings Street) became known as the Inns of Court Building. As a two-storey building it didn’t warrant an elevator, so the lawyers and their clients had to climb the stairs.

Cull 1961This 1932 Vancouver Public Library image shows the building soon after its completion. The retail tenants were Norman G Cull (an opticians who also had a Victoria store), the Georgia Pharmacy and The New York Fur Co (who moved up the street from the next building). Cull’s opticians store moved here from Granville Street, and they stayed here until the 1960s. In the 1930s Norman G Cull was president of the company, and Frederick Cull was treasurer.

As well as lawyers including Lawrence & Shaw, and Soskin & Levin the Northern Pacific Railway had their office in the Inns of Court Building when it opened. R M McLuckie had his own office here, as well as the Knit to Fit Manufacturing Co. The Georgia Garage shared the same address, but were located at the back of the building. (There was another repair garage next door on Howe Street, the Madill Garage).

Tenancies here changed far less than most buildings we look at. As well as Cull’s opticians store, in 1950 the Georgia Pharmacy and New York Furs were still here, joined by the office of the Great Northern Railway and Anne Moloney’s ladies ware store. Upstairs Mr McLuckie still had his office, although now he was listed as being in real estate rather than contracting. There were six barristers with offices, but also the Picardy Beauty Salon and F C Bosman – a metaphysical healer.

The building was eventually acquired by the city for the assembly of the entire block that became the Pacific Centre Mall – at this point it’s the rotunda entrance to the retail part of the mall and the entrance to the Four Seasons Hotel.

David Banks has alerted us to what was on the site before the McLuckie was built – yet another Downtown gas station, this one run by Union Gasoline. It’s obvious in the foreground of this 1930 high-level shot.

Georgia and Howe c1930

Image Sources: Vancouver Public Library and City of Vancouver Archives  CVA Hot P2


Posted March 3, 2014 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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