The Biltmore – 955 Thurlow Street

Biltmore Thurlow

This 1928 Apartment building was a bit of a mystery. All we were able to find was that the architect might have been ‘Simmonds’ – H H Simmonds who practiced in the city for forty years. Then, thanks to a tip from the Heritage Vancouver Society (who are adding more and more building permits to their database) we were able to confirm the architect was indeed H H Simmonds, and the that developer was C S Gustafson, who spent $80,000 to develop it. Carl Gustafson was a builder (and the builder of this project) who had built houses in the West End as early as 1903, and developed the Clifton Hotel on Granville Street in 1910. In 1911 36-year-old Carl was identified by the census as Swedish (having arrived in 1890), living with his wife Hannah and their three sons and their domestic servant, and a lodger.

The building permit was issued in December 1928, and was shown in the street directory as ‘new apartment building’ in 1929, and occupied in 1930 The two fourth floor tenants were Claude Irons, the manager of the Burroughs Adding Machine Co and Laurent Maclean, a clerk with Customs. There’s no earlier building listed at this address on Thurlow – but that’s because it was on the corner with Barclay and the house that was there before was listed as 1100 Barclay. This 1955 Vancouver public Library image shows the building has remained pretty much unchanged in appearance over six decades.

From 1898, for twenty years, the house on this site (designed by William Blackmore) was the home of George I Wilson, President of the Coast Steamship Co, a Scotsman who first arrived in Vancouver in 1887 in the dry goods trade and then made his fortune in the canning business (although in 1900 he was listed as a broker, with an office in the Flack Block). In 1920 Mrs C Parkinson was listed as occupant of the house here, but so too were clerk J J Morley, Robert Norman, an industrial surveyor, F M Robinson, another clerk with the S C Railway and Alex Wood, the local manager with the Rat Portage Lumber Co (whose wife visited Toronto that year). In the Daily World in 1920 Mrs. C Parkinson who lived here was holidaying at Seaton Lake in the Lillooet Valley. The newspaper also reported  that Marion G Buller, who lived at the house, registered a new Chevrolet Tourer from here. We assume that this was a very classy multi-occupied rooming house. In 1923 Mrs Nellie Rudd was listed as the occupant and in 1927 and 1928 James Pickford, a salesman lived at the house until it was replaced with the apartment building.

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Posted May 11, 2015 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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