We’ve see the first building that was built here in two earlier posts. It was the site of the city’s post office: a controversial and much fought-over choice of location. The Canadian Pacific Railway Co offered the Federal Government the site on Granville Street at a significant discount from its market value. Of course, the Federal Government had given CP the land a few years earlier to help them decide on Vancouver as the terminus of the railway, so it was only really returning a favour. The benefit to CP was significant – it pulled the city’s important public services westwards, away from the original Granville (the name for the Gastown original city centre) and towards CP’s own Granville; the street with their station, hotel and Opera House located some distance from civilization in the recently cleared forest.
After the Post Office operations moved out in 1910 to a newer, and even bigger building nearby, the previous post office was used for the Dominion of Canada Assay Office until 1924. In 1926 the street directory records this location as ‘under construction’ and in 1927, when this Vancouver Public Library image was taken, it housed the offices of the Northern Pacific Railway Co. (We’ve looked at their new station, built in 1919 on the reclaimed False Creek Flats, designed by Pratt and Ross of Winnipeg).
We haven’t identified the architect of this building, and initially we thought the railway company were the developers as it was called the Northern Pacific Building into the 1930s, although the railway soon stopped occupying main floor space in the building, their corner office replaced in 1935 by Christie’s Shoes. Thanks to Patrick Gunn’s research we now know it wasn’t the railway company, but Mr. A J Buttimer who developed the building, with Dominion Construction building it at a cost of $65,000. Dominion may have used their in-house designers, as no architect is identified on the permit or in the newspaper story.
A J Buttimer arrived in Vancouver in 1890, and established the Brunswick Canning Co (reflecting his New Brunswick origins). WestEndVancouver say that “He continued to be involved in the fishing industry until 1925, when he sold his interest to B.C. Packers and devoted his time to Vancouver real estate.”
Pender Place, a pair of office towers designed by Underwood, McKinley, Wilson & Smith now occupies the spot.