The original High School, built in 1892, and apparently designed by C R Oldershaw, stayed around for many years, although its role changed over time. This Walter E. Frost image was shot in 1954, when it had been the School of Art for nearly 20 years, although the school had officially moved to other premises two years earlier. However, it looks as if this building continued to be used by the Art School – there are easels visible in the windows. While it hadn’t really changed a lot from when it was first built, there was an added fire escape that didn’t do the appearance of the building any favours.
Founded originally in 1925 as the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts, the school was initially situated on the top floor of the Vancouver School Board building at 590 Hamilton Street. Among the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts’ original teaching staff were the Italian born and trained sculptor Charles Marega, whose lions flank the Lion’s Gate Bridge in Stanley Park in Vancouver, pioneering abstract painter artist Jock Macdonald, and Group of Seven member Frederick Varley. Property magnate Jonathan Rogers was on the Advisory Committee that created the School. The object of the School was “to give a thorough practical knowledge of industrial design, drawing, modeling and decorative painting; and to furnish a sound training to those following, or intending to follow, the various trades, manufactures, or professions requiring such knowledge.” The cost to attend a whole term full time was $25. It was renamed the Vancouver School of Art in 1936 at which time it moved to this building – the former Vancouver (Central) High School.
During the early post-War period, artist-instructors such as Gordon Smith and Jack Shadbolt modeled modern abstract painting at the School. The School moved to larger facilities at the renovated former School Board building in 1952, evolved into the Emily Carr School of Art, and now Emily Carr University of Art + Design, moving to Granville Island, and soon to the False Creek Flats. This building had been demolished by 1956, and was replaced with a new structure by the early 1960s. The educational institution that replaced it is the former Vancouver City College; renamed as Vancouver Community College in 1974, when it separated from the Vancouver School Board.