The upper floors of building haven’t really changed much since it was built in 1909. According to the building permit it cost $20,000 and was designed by A J Bird for J Seabold. (The Contract Record said Seabold and Roberts were the developers. We haven’t successfully identified who John Seabold’s development partner was.) In 1991 four dwelling units were converted to retail use, so there are now just 10 apartments in the building, but there were more in this 1924 image. The Daily World, in announcing the development, said “the design will be of classic character”.
John A Seabold developed a number of other apartment buildings around the city, including the Empire Hotel on East Hastings, our first post on this blog. He started out building houses, then apartments, and eventually was in partnership as Seabold and Roberts, building significant buildings for the day including Blenheim Court two blocks further along Davie Street.
Seabold was an American, and the source of his success was explained in a story published in an Indiana newspaper in November 1909; the Jasper Weekly Courier, published in Jasper, Dubois County. He was quoted saying that Western real estate “is better than a gold mine”. In 1913 he acquired the Clarence Hotel on West Pender Street. However, Mr. Seabold’s perspective changed quite quickly. Vancouver changed significantly from the city that only a few years earlier had elected a Jewish German mayor with a noticeable accent, David Oppenheimer.
A 1917 article in another Indiana newspaper, the Bluffton Chronicle, clarifies a point we’ve noted about several other Vancouver residents during the First World War. If there was any suggestion of German family origins it was wise to change your name or move south. The 1911 Census said that John was from a German family, but had been born in the USA. He was married to Louise, also born in the USA into a German family and they had a son, Ralph aged nine. John and Louise Schwartz were married in Michigan in 1900. They were shown having arrived in Canada in the same year, and appeared as John and Louisa Seabold in the 1901 census, lodging with Minnie Matthias. At that time John was a waiter, while in 1911 he was shown as a builder.
The 1917 news story explains that Mr. Seabold had tried to sell his property, but ‘found this impossible’. That wasn’t necessarily anything to do with Mr. Seabold’s origins – the economy of the city hit the skids around 1913, and the war didn’t improve things.
The main reason for heading to the USA was being drafted into the Canadian forces, which would have potentially have seen Mr. Seabold (who was aged 40 when the war broke out), expected to fight in Europe. The newspaper reported that some of Mr. Seabold’s property had been confiscated, presumably as a result of his decision to leave the country.
In 1944 Ralph Seabold was married in Los Angeles, and John and Louise were living there in both the 1930 and in 1940 US Census records. They moved south to California in the 1930s; in 1920 they were living in Seattle where John was working as a contractor.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N324.