West Hastings from Homer – north side (2)

Hastings from Homer 4

Our previous summer view of the north side of the 400 block of West Hastings had street trees completely obscuring the two buildings in the centre of the block. Here’s a winter shot of the same view (compared to a postcard from around 1905). The next two facades are also completely obscured (even when the tree doesn’t block the view); underneath are two interesting buildings completed at or before the turn of the century, and now covered in sheet steel.

The 3-storey structure with Roman arched top floor windows (the third building from the corner) has two possible designers – either it was built in 1889 for D Campbell, and designed by William Blackmore, or it was the Abbott Block designed a year earlier by N S Hoffar. Both were described in contemporary newspapers as ‘beside the Lady Stephen Block’, but it seems more likely to be the Abbott Block as that was ‘half way down the block’ according to an 1888 Daily World report (and it does look like a Hoffar design). If so, then the building with the triangular pediment and huge curved window would be W T Dalton’s 1898 block for A P Costobadie. This is most likely to have been Akroyd Costobadie, an Englishman who almost certainly never lived in Vancouver – he was an absentee overseas investor at the time. His building was described as ‘adjoining the Abbott Block’. The Costobadie family were originally French Huguenots – (some family members used de Costobadie, although they were not part of the French court), and many of the men in the English family in the 19th Century had the name Palliser in their full name – as was true for A P Costobadie.

Millar & Coe 1918Over the years both buildings, being rental investments, saw tenants come and go. The upper floor of 419 West Hastings was the Butler Hotel from before 1910 for at least 5 years, run by Mike Fitzpatrick. Before that, in 1901, there were a number of offices including the Northern Pacific Railway Co, the New York Stock Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade.

In 1918 Millar & Coe moved in, and they would remain the tenants well into the 20th century – for over 90 years. They dealt in china and glass, and supplied restaurant quality pottery in the city, but earlier they also sold toys. As the 1974 image below shows, the building façade was visible through to the 1970s, while the 3-storey building to the east was covered up in the 1950s (but has a slightly different sheet steel façade today). The original façade was altered in 1918 for Millar and Coe’s arrival – they consolidated two stores to move to the new building, owned by E A Morris. He hired Thomas Fee to design a new three-storey addition & front of the Morris Building; “brick construction to conform with present building”. Fee’s design was a window wall with maximum glazing – very different from today’s wall of grey painted sheeting, (although it’s possible some of the original storefront is still intact).

400 W Hastings north side

400 block W Hastings n side 1944 Here’s another view that we can’t replicate, taken in 1944. It shows that The Lady Stephen Block was indeed called the McMillan Block, and that Millar and Coe were not the only long-standing occupant of the block. Evans-Sheppard Ltd sold shoes here, and Sheppard Shoes were still here in 1974.

Image sources, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-144 and Str N131

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