Water Street – 100 block north side (1)

Water 100 block 2

Here’s the central part of the north side of the 100 block of Water Street, said to have been taken in 1920. In the foreground on the edge of the picture is a produce warehouse. F R Stewart moved here in the early 1920s from a few doors to the west – so we think this is more likely to be around 1921. The warehouse was altered for the company to move in 1920, and appears to have been developed by another produce business, J Y Griffin, in 1906, who also added an expensive Refrigerating plant and frame freezer in the same year.

Down the street at 141 Water Street is the large 1898 warehouse which the Heritage Statement says was developed as an investment by John Twigge. Major-General Twigge was born in Dublin but was a member of the British army (in the Royal Engineers). He arrived with his brother around 1897, and both invested in property throughout the Lower Mainland, as we noted in an earlier post. There’s no architectural attribution for the warehouse, or the additional two storeys that were built before 1906. It’s possible the Twigges acquired a recently commissioned building rather than acting as developers. In 1898 the Province announced the development of a ‘warehouse for the Estate of Hon. Theo Davies near the W.H. Malkin & Co. warehouse’ designed by C O Wickenden. Malkin’s warehouse was actually in this location, and the two businesses leasing space in 1898 who would both expand and build their own warehouses in a very short time were W H Malkin and Kelly and Douglas.

There had been a small building between the two warehouses predating them both; it was built as the Royal Hotel in 1888 by Benjamin Wood. He left England in 1882, followed by his wife and three children, arriving in Victoria before heading to New Westminster where Ben set up in the hotel trade. Hearing about the fire destroying Vancouver, it’s said the he established a soup kitchen for the firefighters (who would be the remaining residents of the newly created city). A year later the family moved to Vancouver: Ben set up shop as a tailor and built the Royal Hotel with 26 rooms, and his wife, Frances, (like Ben, born in Buxton in Derbyshire) as proprietor. He partnered to buy The Stewart House hotel in 1889, but sold it a year later and returned to running the Royal, now renamed the Albion Hotel. In 1891 he was back in New Westminster, as a brewer. Despite apparently being owned by Emma Gold, In 1894 the Albion was sold at auction by Mrs F Wood, after she won a court case against Emma and Edward Gold in 1893. In 1893 Emma had proposed to build an addition to the Albion Hotel, but she was refused; “a corrugated-iron addition to the Albion Hotel, Water Street being contrary to the terms of the Fire Bylaw”. In 1896 she asked for a street crossing to the Albion Hotel (that she would pay for). This suggests she either settled with Mrs. Wood, or acquired it back, and it became the Imperial Hotel in 1898 before being converted to one of the many fruit and vegetable warehouses on the street in 1901. Ben and Frances divorced at some point, and he remarried, but he stayed in the area and was still a tailor when he joined the Pioneer Association in 1923. He was living on Lulu Island when he died in 1933.

There’s a building permit from 1910 for a new building designed by Parr and Fee here. It was for E Gould, for a $10,000 building. We think that was Emma Gold, who we think had also developed the warehouse closer to us with the arched windows. It was completed before 1901 and as the Twigge block to the west of the Albion Hotel was built in 1898 it seems likely to be the 1890 ‘commercial block for Mrs. Gold adjoining the Albion Hotel’ designed by E A McCartney. Mrs Gold was Emma, the wife of Louis Gold, the owner of the Gold House Hotel across the street a block away. By 1910 Louis had died, and Mrs Gold was an active property developer in the city. An 1890 minute of City Council business confirms that Emma owned this lot, and was seeking confirmation of the site’s building line.

The Heritage Statement for the building, 131 Water attributes it to Parr and Fee for Emma Gold, and calls it the F R Stewart Building, once Stewart’s moved a few doors to the east, Swartz Brothers, another wholesale food company replaced them. In 1920 they obtained a permit for a new $12,000 building designed by Gardiner & Mercer, but there’s a mid 1920s photograph showing the building faced with white glazed bricks, suggesting a Parr and Fee design, so the new owners seem to have made the best of the 1910 building rather than redeveloping.

Like the Royal Hotel, The Twigge building is still standing today. It was converted to residential uses on the upper floors in 1996 (with two extra floors added behind a setback, designed by Merrick Architects) and called ‘The Malkin’. Both the other buildings were replaced in 1974 by the Henriques and Todd designed ‘Gaslight Square‘ for Marathon Realty.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives  CVA 99 – 3257


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