Lightheart Apartments – 540 Helmcken Street

Lightheart Apartments

To the north of Emery Barnes Park there is a 1910 building which these days is called Brookland Court. It was built by two brothers, who are referred to in the architectural history books as ‘the Lightheart Brothers’. William and Joseph Lightheart were builders who designed their own developments and owned the sash widow factory that was on the site before they built the apartment building. Two other brothers are sometimes mentioned in passing as well, but there were in fact at least six different Lightheart brothers, all of whom ended up living in Vancouver and all apparently involved in construction and development. Strangely, none of the brothers seem to be mentioned in any of the contemporary biographies of worthy citizens, but at least seven of their apartment buildings are still standing today.

In 1901 William and Joseph Lightheart had both recently appeared in Vancouver and both lodged with James A Johnston and his family; 25 year old William working as a builder and his 23 year old brother Joseph as a carpenter. They appear in the 1901 City Directory at 604 Hamilton Street, which presumably was their works yard. Their family roots were in Nottawasaga, Simcoe in Ontario, (on Lake Huron). In 1901 William built a house on Burrard Street and in 1902  he built a house for George Whatmore on 8th Avenue. Joseph built a house in the same year on Burrard Street for himself, and it was a substantial house too – it cost $2,200.

There’s a period where the city’s building permits have been lost, so we don’t know for certain that this building is their first major investment, but it looks to be so. William’s wedding in Escondido in 1906 was mentioned in the Daily World, as was George’s wedding in 1907. Various house-building projects were noted by several of the brothers. In 1911 advertisements started to appear for the newly completed Lightheart Apartments, offering both furnished and unfurnished rooms.

In the 1950s the building was known as the Brooklyn Court Apartments. At some point an additional floor was added, and in in 1989 major renovations were carried out that reduced the number of units to 86 self-contained apartments of non-market housing.

Image source: BC Archives D-09176


Posted 13 June 2016 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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