Gold House – 68 Water Street

Gold House

Louis Gold re-built his hotel very soon after the fire destroyed the newly named Vancouver in 1886. Mrs. MacLean, the wife of the city’s first mayor, remembered staying there when she arrived in the fall of 1886, when it was just built. Louis is unlikely to have hired an architect – it was a simple but surprisingly large property. Louis was one of the earliest residents, having been in Granville since 1872, and possibly at Moodyville across Burrard Inlet for a short time before. His wife (who was German) and son, Edward, joined him a year later, and Gold ran a store mostly supplying visiting ships and loggers and the local native population (which was pretty much the entire population of the area at the time). His son recalled Louis had arrived via Victoria from San Francisco. Previously the family was in Kentucky (where his son was born), and Louis had been born in Poland. He was the first Jewish resident in the area, and initially leased a store from Jack Deighton, later paying $550 to buy three lots from the Clarkson estate on the north side of Water Street. An invoice from 1877 describes Louis Gold as an ‘importer of, and Dealer in, Groceries and Provisions, Clothing, Boots and Shoes, Caps and Hats’. He dealt in ‘Crockery, Cutlery, Kerosene Oil, Lamps, Fancy Goods, Laces, Embroideries, Kid Gloves and a General assortment of Merchandise’.

Various city pioneers recalled different aspects of Louis Gold’s history to Major Matthews. He pre-empted land near the North Arm Road, and had several cottages that he leased out on Water Street, as well as his store. Gold’s wife, Emma, who was born in the early 1830s apparently had a life independent of her husband and ran both a grocery and shoe store – The Royal City Boot and Shoe Store – in New Westminster in the early 1880s. After the fire Gold switched from selling groceries and general merchandise to building the 100 room hotel, The Gold House. A 1940 newspaper report explained his method of dealing with difficult patrons. Gold was a short man, but he reportedly earned the nickname “Leaping” Louis by springing into the air in the course of some fracas, “swinging his fist mightily and landing with his full weight on his opponent’s chin. This seldom failed to yield a knockout”. Louis backed Malcolm McLean as the new city’s first mayor, and it was the Gold’s carriage that was used to celebrate the disputed win. A few weeks later, when the fire started Louis is said to have escaped by jumping into Burrard Inlet (across the street from his store).

In 1888 the provincial Government considered a request to purchase the pre-empted land. Louis was in England – in Liverpool – at the time, but his lawyers and son received a favourable response to their land claim. Exactly what Louis was up to in England has never been confirmed, although it was said that he ran a furniture business there, and in Victoria in London. A Mrs. Agnes Brown contacted Major Matthews some years later to insist that he had married her (bigamously) and fathered four more children. As he was illiterate, she had written letters to his wife for him,  (believing she was writing to his mother).

Gold cardThe Gold House appears in street directories until 1911, although Louis died in 1907. Emma, his wife, was running the Gold House in 1888, then appears to have moved, reappearing in Vancouver from 1892, recorded somewhat prematurely for many years as his widow. Louis wasn’t associated with the hotel that bore his name after 1888 (and doesn’t seem to be in Vancouver in the 1890s or early 1900s, although there are several men in England with the same name during this period) which might support Mrs Brown’s claims. Mrs Anderson had the hotel in 1889, Roland Lambert and Nathaniel Darling were proprietors in 1890, when the Vancouver Public Library picture was taken. Colin Dawson was running it in 1892, W Holmes  in 1896, Frederick Clem ran it for several years in the early 1900s and J B Dorfman  in 1905. In 1910 it was H M Marriott in charge, as he was a year later – the last time the Gold House was listed.

The 1892 Street Directory lists everybody living in the hotel – nearly a third of the rooms were occupied by permanent guests (some associated with the establishment, like Colin Dawson, but others with jobs in the city like Moses Cole, a CPR brakeman and Lewis Hollingsworth, a barber).

In 1912 Edward Lipsett, a sailmaker and canvas merchant added a second warehouse next to his 1906 building on the site of the Gold House, designed by Dalton and Eveleigh. Emma Gold died in 1927, and was buried in Mountain View cemetery with her husband.


Posted 21 May 2014 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Gone

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