Our 1978 image shows this modest single storey retail building operating as an auto glass supplier. For many years it’s been used as a thrift store, but relatively unchanged in appearance in nearly 40 years. We saw in our previous post that it looked significantly different when it was first built in 1917, occupied in 1921 by Ford dealers Dixon Motor Co.
In 1925 Dixon’s were still in business, and Mutch’s tire store was next door, at 1275 Granville. That is built the 2-storey building from 1912 developed by R Hoffmeister, who claims to have designed it himself, with Wiles & Fisher building it at a cost of $8,000. It had a 25′ frontage to Granville, but stretched to 75′ on the lane, behind the next two 2-storey buildings to the north. Reinhart Hoffmeister in 1912 was an electrical engineer and contractor who operated his own electrical machinery and supplies company from 1271 Granville, (the building behind the car in this 1935 image), so quite probably designed both buildings.
Both R and H Hoffmeister also owned property on the same block on the opposite side of the street: Henry (known as Harry) and George Hoffmeister operated a car dealership on Pender Street offering both gasoline and electric models, and were electrical engineers as well. Harry had arrived from Ontario in 1886, one of seven brothers whose father was an international lawyer living in Clifford, Ontario. Reinhart followed a little later in 1888; a steam engineer in a flour mill, he learned about electricity as it was being installed for the first time. William, another engineer arrived in 1893, having worked for Allis machinery and the Pullman company. Hoffmeister’s were dealers for the Dominion, and the E N F (Flanders), and Detroit Electric vehicles: according to Major Matthews in an interview with Reinhart, architect Thomas Fee bought the first electric vehicle.
The Hoffmiester company were pioneer electrical contractors; castings were designed by the company to make generators that supplied electrical power to a number of the city’s earliest businesses, including the pulp mill in Port Mellon and the BC Sugar refinery. Mr. Hoffmeister also had an interest in the Vancouver Manufacturing and Trading Company; a sash and door and furniture factory that also made pails and tubs, with a sawmill in connection with it as well located at the foot of Burrard Street. Reinhart Hoffmeister’s building was Williams Piano House in 1978 (a company that had moved into the building in the early 1950s), and it’s a private liquor store today. At some point between the 1930s and the 1970s the sash windows were replaced with aluminum, and the brick detail lost to stucco.