Archive for June 2014

West Hastings from Homer – north side (3)

Hastings from Homer 2

More than half way up the block (barely visible in this picture, where the red brick can be seen in the contemporary image) next door to the Abbott Block and the Costobadie Block, E A Morris had his tobacconist store; the name can still be seen today on the restored building facade. Edward Arthur Morris was born in London in 1858, and came to British Columbia in 1877 and then went to seek gold in the Cassiar gold fields. After working at a variety of jobs, he went to Victoria in 1892 and opened a tobacco business. In 1899 he opened a tobacco business on Hastings Street in Vancouver. He sometimes advertised himself with the phrase “I am the man who imports cigarettes for ladies”. In 1919 ‘extensive alterations and repairs’ were carried out by contractors Dixon & Murray, including the installation of a new storefront.

Both stores were known for the elegance of their fittings and decorations. It’s possible that the building was designed by Thomas Hooper. The Statement of Historic Significance for Thomas Dunn’s warehouse at 1 Alexander Street (these days the home of the restaurant ‘Chill Winston’) says it houses “handsome oak store fittings dating from c.1897, designed by prominent local architect Thomas Hooper. This woodwork was originally installed in the E.A. Morris Tobacconist shop on Hastings Street, and moved here after a fire in 1982.”

Hastings 1931 detail

At the end the end of the block, on the corner with Richards, is the Scougale Block. It was replaced in 1938 with a new store for F W Woolworth, still standing today. We looked at this building last year. Quite possibly the original seen here was designed by W T Dalton, who designed a ‘Richards Block’ in 1897, and seems to have been designer of several of the buildings in this block.

This picture dates back to 1931 when Millar and Coe were the tenants of the other half of the Morris Block as they were in our previous post. On the corner of Homer, closest to us, Charles D Bruce had his clothing store, offering a ‘Special Underwear Sale’. Next door (and also on the lower floor accessed from Homer Street) was T B Lee, selling ladies read-to-wear and millinery. Several of the offices upstairs were vacant but Dr English was there, and so was the Vancouver English Academy. Dr. Lemons advertised his dental practice in the upper windows. There were also offices upstairs in the McMillan block to the west as well; James Lipp, a chiropractor was here, so was John Innes, an artist, Jack Allen, a music teacher and Miss Madeline Humes, a masseuse. Owl Drugs (by this time associated with Rexall) had a store downstairs and Copp, the Shoe Man was next door. Down the street on the other side of Richards Street the David Spencer company had built his Department store in 1926. Way down at the end of the picture it is possible to just make out the Metropolitan Building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str N281.1

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Posted June 6, 2014 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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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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West Hastings from Homer – north side (1)

Hastings from Homer 1

Here’s a view of the north side of the 400 block of West Hastings around 1910, looking at the corner with Homer Street. On the corner (on the right of the picture) was A E McMillan’s ‘Head Quarters for Diamonds’. Next door in the same building was a branch of the Dominion Bank, while the building to the west was home to Johnston’s Big Shoe House and Ladywares American corsets. Next door is the Lady Stephen Block – later known as the McMillan Building (although as the photo shows, McMillan’s were originally located next door). We’ve looked at the building already – it’s one of the earliest in the city still standing today, designed by T C Sorby in 1887. It was once obscured by a contemporary façade, but has since been restored.

The same cannot be said for the corner block. Underneath the mirror glass is at least the frame of the 1905 building designed by Maclure and Fox for Stephen Jones. The only Stephen Jones in Vancouver at the time was a sawyer, and it seems unlikely he was the investor. There was a Stephen Jones in Victoria who is a much more likely candidate. He was a hotel keeper – but also a real estate investor, both in Vancouver and Victoria. A 1933 obituary notice included the following: “For forty-three years Mr. Jones had operated the Dominion Hotel which he took over from his father, expanding it as the city grew. The successful operation of the hotel was the basis of the Jones fortune, but it was added to from the first of the century when downtown real estate in Vancouver, which Mr. Jones had acquired when Granville Street was only a trail through stumps, became valuable.” Mr. Jones was born in Ontario into an Irish family, but they moved to Victoria when he was an infant. He was a prominent Freemason as well as being active in both local politics and the Chamber of Trade in Victoria.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives LGN 560

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Posted June 2, 2014 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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