Here’s a view from Granville of Robson Street. It dates back to 1932, and on the right is the Johnston-Howe Block that we featured several times a while ago. Next to it, to the west, was the McLuckie Building that we’ve also see before. The building to the west is the Hotel Georgia, which even today is one of the biggest buildings on the block – certainly one of the most impressive.
The Hotel Georgia was built in 1926 and opened in 1927 and was at the time viewed as a state of the art building which became a local favourite for celebrities and politicians. It was designed by a Seattle-based architect, John Graham sr, (born in Liverpool) in association with a Vancouver-based Scottish-born architect, John Garrow. Garrow had practiced in the city for a number of years, initially with Hooper and Watkins then had moved to Seattle in the early 1920s when there was little work in Vancouver, only to return again in the mid 1920s. Garrow was supposedly from a building engineering background, so it was surprising that during the recent restoration of the building it was discovered that there was no reinforcement in some of the columns and slabs. During restoration carbon fibre reinforcement was added. The first owner was Henry Tobin, and the initial cost was over $1.5 million. (The recent restoration and condo tower was reported to cost over $350 million)
Graham and Garrow’s design (it’s not really clear which office carried out the design details) was always overshadowed by the Hotel Vancouver – initially by the second hotel across the street and then by the third further to the west. The hotel wasn’t mentioned in architectural publications of the 1970s or 1980s, but more recently as some of the older buildings in the area have disappeared, the simple but classic design has become more appreciated.
The roof initially wouldn’t support any loads, but now is used as part of the hotel. The ballroom, the Hotel Georgia’s most famous feature was removed, and then completely restored to its original appearance. The basement bar, with distinctive arched ceilings and a wood floor was restored with added contemporary features. Less obvious additions include a geothermal field, photovoltaic panels and a green roof. The much later parkade next door was demolished and an office and condo tower, designed by IBI/HB was added. Today the hotel is part of the Rosewood Group, and is undoubtedly more classy than it was for many years before.
Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 20-59