500 block Seymour Street – west side (2)

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We looked at the building on the right hand edge of this image in an earlier post. It was designed by Sydney Eveleigh in the late 1920s in a very English Georgian style that’s comparatively unusual in Vancouver, and once home to the Georgian Club. Next door was a bigger building – actually, if you look closely it was two buildings built at slightly different times and reworked to look like one. This was home to the B C Telephone Co, Ltd telephone exchange. As the city demand for phone lines grew they added another much bigger and more expensive building two blocks away to the north in 1914, but continued to use this building as well.

switchboards-in-the-b-c-telephone-company-555-seymour-streetbc-telephone-co-555-seymour-1909The first part of the building here was designed by Dalton & Eveleigh in 1906; (that’s the same Eveleigh as the 1929 building on the right). The Contract Record in February reported: “Plans have been completed for the new building to be erected on west side of Seymour street, between Dunsmuir and Pender street, for the British Columbia Telephone Company, and tenders will shortly be called for by the architects, Dalton & Eveleigh. The building will be of iron, steel and concrete.” In March they announced that the contractors would be Baynes and Horie. We know what the building looked like inside – here’s a 1907 image also in the Archives.

An addition to the building was built in 1910 designed by Cox and Amos and costing $20,000. That seems likely to have been the northern 3-bay addition, as the Philip Timms 1909 Vancouver Public Library image on the right shows, the northern addition hadn’t been added then. The entrance was later reworked so that the building retained some sort of symmetry, although the northern part wasn’t quite the same because it had to have its own flanking wall, and so slightly narrower windows overall. There’s a 1912 image that shows the original façade of the first building, with the new wing alongside so the more elaborate doorway in the middle was a later change.

BC Tel (as they became) retained the building for many years. In 1940 it was still the Seymour Exchange, but by 1946 it was part of the company’s maintenance operations. By 1955 it was used for the long distance exchange, with the employees medical services offices. We’re fairly certain that BC Telephone were still using this building when the 1974 image was shot.

The downtown campus of BCIT has occupied this location since 1996. Designed by Aitken Wreglesworth, the departments here are business and media, computing and information, and international student entry programs, with many students attending on a part-time basis.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-410 and Bu P498 and VPL.

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Posted November 10, 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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