Crown Hotel – Cordova Street

Cordova west from Carrall 2

We’ve looked at the history of the Boulder Hotel (on the right) some years ago, and we looked at it again more recently. On the corner on the left is the Rainier Hotel – we also looked at the history of this building several years ago. Beyond is one of the oldest buildings in the city – and certainly the grandest of the city’s early buildings; the Dunn – Miller Block. We’ve looked at parts of it in various posts – the buildings removed to build it in 1889 were featured here, and we’ve seen odd bits of the façade, like Clarke & Stuart’ s store in 1898, as well as how it looked in the 1960s. Here’s how it looked in 1990.

1912 Goad map Crown HotelThe Dunn – Miller block, it turns out, wasn’t really a complete building – more a unified façade designed by N S Hoffar, with a variety of businesses adding their own premises behind. A good example of this is the Crown Hotel, that occupied 75 feet of façade slightly to the west of the central portion of the block in 1912, as this extract from the Goad’s insurance map shows. It was numbered as 22-28 Cordova Street. Before 1911 there was a hotel called the Crown here;  when the building was first completed in 1889 all the retail units were occupied, and there were few tenants listed on upper floors (including a real estate office and a barrister at 44 Cordova). By 1892 it looks as if 22 Cordova was in residential use – it’s difficult to imagine why a streetcar conductor would have an office here.

In 1894 John Decker was running the Crown Saloon on Carrall Street. Two years later it was listed as the Crown Hotel, but reverted to the Crown Saloon two years after that. From 1907 the Crown Hotel is listed at this address, still run by John Decker. John was originally from Germany, arriving in Canada in 1886. His wife Alice was American, and their three children, John, Willie and Alice were all born in BC. In 1909 Mrs Alma Peterson’s jewellery store was on the main floor at 26 and Zarelli’s confectionary store at 26 1/2 (replaced by the Imperial Restaurant in 1910) and Joseph Sudmin’s clothing store at 28.

In 1911 the hotel was rebuilt at a cost of $30,000; accordiung to the building permit it was designed by ‘F Gardner’ – actually Francis Gardiner, brother of architect W F Gardiner. The owner at the time was a surprise to us; a Chinese businessman, Lung Kee. It’s likely that this was L O Kee who also imported dry goods at an East Hastings address. In 1912 the street directory shows the Crown Hotel being run by Alfd Manson, prop, 22-24 Cordova W. The bartender was Hans Christian, who lived in the Stanley Hotel (across the street). John Decker had moved on to run the Traveller’s Hotel on Abbott Street with A Burr, and was living on Haro Street in the West End.

A Lung family household of at least 7 members residing in Vancouver was recorded in the 1901 census. The head of household, Kee Lung, was born in China in 1851. The census identified his heritage as Chinese and showed he immigrated to Canada 27 years prior in 1874 when he was 23 years old. By 1901, at the age of 50, he had an occupation that was recorded as “Store Keeper”. Kee’s wife was Kee Mary Lung, who was 30 years old. Mary was born in China in 1870. Also identifying her heritage as Chinese, she immigrated to Canada in 1884 (when she would have been 14 years old). There were five children, 4 boys and a girl. In 1889 their eldest child, a boy named Mahie, was born. One year later, in 1890, when Kee was 39 years old and Kee Mary was 20 years old their second son, Man King, was born. In 1892 their daughter, Kee Ma Han, was born followed in 1898 by Malang, a boy and in 1901 by another son, Mashe. In 1901 the Lung family children’s ages were 3, 5, 8, 10, and 11 years.

The Crown stayed in business for many years, but reverted to offering managed rooms rather than a full service hotel. From time to time the building continued to have Chinese connections – either in terms of the café downstairs, or who ran the hotel. In 1919 it was listed as the Crown Hotel Rooms, run by K Kawano, while the bar was run by S Swaboda. Two years later the rooms were run by Samuel Riardan, and two years after that, C Hiraki. Although the hotel continues to be listed, there’s no proprietor associated with it. By 1926 the bar wasn’t mentioned, but there was a Crown Café, (Chinese) run by John Hing. In 1930 K Kosaka was running the Hotel Rooms, and the Beer Parlour was shown as being back in business at 28 W Cordova with J Shelling and A Didinsky running the bar. The Crown Café was now the Sunset Café, shown at the same address. At 22, J Grimaldi was running the Crown Jewelry store.

The depression seems to have had an affect on the businesses: in 1934 the Rooms were still operating but the jewelers had become Crown Tailors, selling second hand clothing, and the bar isn’t mentioned, although the Sunset Café is still being run by Jon Hing. In 1939 K Kosaka is still running the rooms, but the café had become the Golden Café, run by Sam Wong. During the war the Café became the Victory Café – a bit premature in 1942. No longer Chinese, it was run by G Maystovich. Mrs K Kosaka was running the Crown Hotel Rooms. By the end of the war, everything changed again. The Cansino Hotel, run by Mann Kuan and Wo Joon is shown at 24 W Cordova, and Harvey’s Boot Factory had occupied 28. We saw that business located a bit further up the street in an earlier post. The Cansino was still in business with one of the same owners a decade later, (M and S Kuan and C T Chan).

The Army and Navy store restored elements of the Classical-style façade in a remodelling of the entire store completed in 1974 that extends to Hastings Street (with a lane still bisecting the upper floors of the store).

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-427

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Posted March 14, 2016 by ChangingCity in Altered, East End

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