Archive for March 2017

Kenmore Apartments – Gilford Street

The Kenmore Apartments have been on the 1000 block of Gilford, in the West End, for over 90 years. The building was designed by McCarter and Nairne, better known for their commercial buildings (including the Marine Building) than residential projects. The building was supposedly completed in 1926, and has 32 rental apartments. This 1943 image suggests the stucco didn’t perform too well on what was a relatively new building, and since then the cornice (which was never tremendously prominent) has been lost.

During the 1950s Malcolm Lowry and his wife Margerie would winter here, when it was too uncomfortable to live in his squatter shack on the North Shore. The proximity of the bar of the Hotel  Sylvia was no doubt an attraction. The Kenmore was also home to Colonel E S Davidson, a retired widower in his 80s and owner of Tippie, a Yorkshire terrier who got her own obituary in the local newspaper when she died in 1940, aged 19. There’s more about the Colonel (and Tippie) on westendvancouver.

There was a house here before the apartments were developed. It was addressed as 1900 Comox, and completed around 1906 when J A McCrossan was the first occupant, described as an ‘inspector’ in 1906 (actually he was the city’s electrical inspector), and manager of  B C Dental Supply Co in 1908. This was apparently a short-lived move; In 1907, he had resigned his position as the city electrician so that he could become manager of the new company. It appears that he reconsidered this approach, because after 1909 he continued to be the city electrician for another four years. There’s more on him, also at westendvancouver.

The first time The Kenmore appears in a street directory was in 1928, so there seems to have been a delay in completion. Even at that point twelve of the apartments were vacant. The agents for leasing the building were Macaulay Nicolls Maitland & Co Ltd. Today there’s never a problem in filling a vacancy.

Posted March 30, 2017 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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1272 Granville Street

Our 1921 image shows yet another car dealership Downtown, with three more American brands competing for the city’s motoring dollars. We’re not sure who designed the building, but it seems to have been owned for many years (with several others on the same block) by Henry Hoffmeister. Henry was no stranger to motoring; he was one of several Hoffmeister Brothers who came to the city from Ontario, two of whom ran a significant car dealership on Pender Street in the 1910s, selling many different makes  The company were successful enough to have offices in the prestigious Winch Building. The building is very like one across the street designed by Henry’s brother, Reinhart.

Henry was more commonly known as Harry and with his brother George operated the car dealership on Pender Street offering both gasoline and electric models, and they were electrical engineers as well. Harry had arrived from Ontario in 1886, one of seven brothers whose father was an international lawyer living in Clifford, Ontario. Reinhart followed in 1888; a steam engineer in a flour mill, he learned about electricity as it was being installed for the first time. William, another engineer arrived in 1893, having worked for Allis machinery and the Pullman company. The Hoffmeister Brothers were dealers for a number of car makers, with at one time six different electric cars, including Detroit Electric vehicles. According to Major Matthews in an interview with Reinhart, architect Thomas Fee bought the first electric vehicle. They also appear to have been builders, with several building permits for their own properties and one for Captain French on Alexander Street.

Pattison Motors was a new enterprise, managed by John W Pattison who also ran Ye Olde English Billiards Parlour at 779 Granville. The 1921 census tells us he was aged 39, English, and married to his 28-year-old American wife, Martha and living in the Bell-Irving block at 679 Granville. He had arrived in Canada in 1901, and his wife in 1912. We think he was running a lodging house on Pender Street in 1911, living at that time with his older wife, Eva, who was also American, aged 34 and with two children, James and Gordon Benge.

Pattison sold Saxon, Roamer and Lexington cars. Saxon cars were built in the Ace factory in Michigan from 1914. Despite financial problems from 1917, in 1920 a new model, the Duplex, powered by an overhead-valve, four-cylinder engine joined the six-cylinder model with a sedan body. The six-cylinder cars were no longer listed after 1921 and production fell from 7,000 a few years earlier to 2,100 cars, and the company ceased production in 1922. The Roamer was first built in 1916 by the Barley Motor Car Co. in New York State, and later Kalamazoo, Michigan. The stylish car had a nickel-plated grill modeled after the Rolls-Royce. After a Roamer with a Rochester-Duesenberg engine set six records for sprints at Daytona Beach in 1921, the advertisements crowed, “America’s Smartest Car Makes America’s Fastest Mile.” Production was moved to Ontario in 1924, and struggled on for five years. Lexington Motors was founded in 1909 in the city of the same name in Kentucky. The cars were assembled with parts from a number of different suppliers: in 1922 the United States Automotive Corporation, Lexington’s parent company, owned ten different factories building parts for its cars. Production of Lexington cars peaked in 1920 with over 6,000 built. By 1922 it had fallen to roughly a third of that of 1920.

In 1923 the Daily World ran an advertisement “Announcing To All Automobile Owners and to Those Who Will Be Pattison Motors Ltd. 1365 Granville Street Have Been Appointed the British Columbia Representatives for the Manufacturers of Willys – Knight and Overland Cars”. While still selling Lexington and Roamer cars, the company had also added Stutz to their lineup, and moved a block south. Pattison Motors didn’t survive the 1920s financial crash, with Atlas Motors taking over their premises. John W Pattison became a broker. This building continues to be used for vehicle sales: C C Motor sales were here in 1927, run by E H Winram. By the mid 1930 Gent Supply Co’s auto accessory wholesale operation was here, along with Walsh’s auto wrecking and parts company. In 1950 Parker’s furniture store was here, and today there’s a market rental building with 10 storeys designed by Hywel Jones and completed in 2001.

Image Source City of Vancouver Archives Trans N19.

Posted March 27, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Knox Church – East Cordova Street

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This church was the third church built here, and the building shown in the picture was, we think, built in 1903. The first First Presbyterian Church was built here early in 1886, and burned to the ground in the Great Fire only a few months later. A replacement was quickly built at the back of the site with access from the lane; at the time the street was called Oppenheimer.

That second building was replaced in 1903 with this building, designed (we think) by Arnott Woodroofe who won a competition to design a 1903 Vancouver Presbyterian church (with C O Wickenden). The Presbyterians had already built a huge new church only a few blocks away at Hastings and Gore (where today’s First United Church is located) in 1892.

By 1903 this street had become East Cordova, and although the street directory says this was the Knox Independent Presbyterian Church, with Rev Merton Smith as pastor, the Congregational Yearbook for 1903 says it was actually a Congregational Church. By 1907, when this Vancouver Public Library image was taken, the street directory had caught up and this address was listed as the Knox Congregational Church, with the Reverend Smith still running the show.

In 1912 Rev. Smith resigned, and took over as president of Terminal City Press Ltd, publishers of the Western Call newspaper, based in Mount Pleasant. The newspaper tells us that he was born in Glasgow and had been in the USA for 20 years before moving to Vancouver from Chicago in 1902. His church responsibilities hadn’t inoculated him against the real estate fever sweeping the region; he was listed as a director of the Lilloouet and Cariboo Land Co as well as a director in the Albion Trust Co Ltd (who announced a $1 million office to be built in Victoria).

Rev A K MacLennan from Boston took over, staying until 1915. That year the church closed; it became the Cordova Hall. Two hundred local Japanese volunteers started training in the hall, hoping to see service in support of Canada’s war effort. That never came to pass – instead many made their way to Alberta where they were accepted into the 13th Canadian Mounted Rifles Regiment and went on to fight in Europe. This part of Cordova was predominantly Japanese, but after the war the International Longshore Men’s Association (Auxiliary) took over the premises which then became listed as the L W I W Hall, and later in the 1920s the Longshoremen’s Union Hall.

It’s not clear how long the building survived. From the 1930s the Peterson & Cowan Elevator Co Ltd manufactured elevators here, but we’re not sure if it was in the old hall or a new structure as we haven’t found an image of this part of the street. The site was cleared for many years, and has just been developed as ‘In Gastown’, a striking condo and retail building designed by Christopher Bozyk Architects.

Posted March 23, 2017 by ChangingCity in East End, Gastown, Gone

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Richards Street – 900 Block east side (2)

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The building on the right of this 1981 image is also on our previous image. It dates from the mid 1950s, although that might have been a refurbishment of a $10,000 building designed and built by Bedford Davidson for the Pioneer Auto & Carriage Company in 1920. They were a firm of auto body builders run my William Alexander, Michael McLean and William Benson, and seem to have developed from the Pioneer Carriage and Shoeing Co, shifting from horses to horseless carriages.

The decorative building to the north was built in 1913,  a $30,000 office and store designed by W F Gardiner for the North West Trust Co., Ltd. It too was part of Vancouver’s expansive motordom, occupied initially with the showrooms of the Albion Motor Co, (a Scottish vehicle manufacturer), the Albion Motor Express  and the United Auto Agency of BC offices.

Off in the distance on the left is the first building on the block, the Pioneer Steam Laundry, built in 1908 and still standing today. While the steam laundry building remains, the rest of the block here is taken up by The Savoy, a 2000 condo tower designed by Hancock, Bruckner Eng + Wright.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E09.11

Posted March 20, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Richards Street – 900 Block east side (1)

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This view of the east side of the 900 block of Richards dates from 1981, when the Downtown South commercial area comprised modest and generally unremarkable one and two storey buildings. There’s one exception in this image; the single storey structure in the centre of the picture started life as a “nondescript office-cum-warehouse” according to Exploring Vancouver 2, but in 1975 it was given a new life as the home of the Architectural Institute of BC. Dalla-Lana/Griffin were the architects of the conversion.

Across Nelson Street were the almost windowless studios of CFOX (which had morphed from CKLG a couple of years earlier). CKLG became Canada’s first full-time FM rock music station in 1968.

In 2006 Tribeca Lofts replaced the AIBC building, with 52 condos in an 8-storey building designed by Hancock, Bruckner, Eng + Wright. To the north, on the left of the image, where Hudson Optical and British Columbia Industries operated in 1981, The Savoy, a 30-storey tower designed by Howard, Bingham, Hill was completed in 2000, while C-Fox (and the building’s resident mouse population – noted by former radio station staff) were replaced in 2003 by The Gallery, a 23 storey tower, also designed by Hancock, Bruckner, Eng + Wright.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E09.12

Posted March 16, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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328 Water Street

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We’ve looked at both the buildings flanking this modest 2-storey structure in earlier posts. 322 Water Street, to the left was designed by Townsend and Townsend in 1912, while 342 Water on the right dates from 1899 and was designed by William Blackmore for John Burns. The retail arcade building in the centre also dates from 1912, designed by Stuart and White for the ‘Thompson Bros’ and built by the Burrard Construction Co for $30,000. It was an unusual building for Vancouver: an arcade linking Water Street to Cordova, with an entrance across the street from Homer Street, which presumably explains its name as the Homer Street Arcade.

As we noted in an earlier post, the Thompson Bros were really the Thomson Bros; listed as James A and M P Thomson who ran their stationers business from 325 West Hastings. An 1896 Auditor General’s Report noted that the company could be up to five years late in paying for publications they had sold on the government’s behalf; the report shows they also traded in Calgary.

Somehow the 1911 Census seems to have missed James (or we can’t find him), but Melville P(atrick) Thomson was living at 1215 Cardero, aged 51 with his wife Louise and their son, Melville F(itzGerald) Thomson who the street directory tell us was working for the Dominion Trust. Two more sons, George (a bookkeeper) and Donald were at home, as well as daughters Nora and Marcella, as well as a niece, A Finkueneisel, and their domestic. Melville senior was born in Ontario, while Louise was French. Louise seems to have been a second marriage for Melville; in 1888 he married Marcella Fitzgerald in Esquimalt. Melville died in 1944 aged 84, when he was living in Oliver. His death certificate says his wife was Marie Louise Kern, and that they had moved to the town in 1924. He had lived in BC since 1887, and we’re pretty certain he was born in Erin, in Wellington, Ontario, and that his brother James was three years older. The directory says that in 1910 James A Thomson was living at 1238 Cardero, so across the street from his brother.

The photograph shows the businesses located on Cordova Street included G.R. Gregg and Co. Ltd., The Borden, and Richardson Jensen Ltd. Ships’ Chandlers. The businesses in the Arcade were addressed from Cordova Street; The Borden was actually the The Borden Milk Co (so not a bar, despite the name). The heritage description for The Arcade says “The covered passage, with shops on both sides, served the bustling community with commercial and retail services.” In reality there was very little, if any retail – the building was full of commercial offices and some pretty specialized services. Here’s the complete list of businesses in 1914: Robt D Dickie – com agt, Alex Smith – accordion pleater, Searson & Russell – whol men’s furngs, Mendelson Bros – whol silks, A Olmstead Budd – produce broker, Walter D Frith – mdse broker, M B Steele – mdse broker, Hayward McBain & Co Ltd – com agents, corn, Dan Stewart – tailor (workroom), Hugh Lambie – com agt, Chas Schenk – tailor, Produce Distributers Ltd, Successful Poultryman, Excelsior Messengers, BC Assn of Stationary Engineers and Sandison Bros – mfrs agts.

During the 1970s the building was spruced up, with odd details that included facemasks of the entrepreneurs responsible for the revival of Gastown in the 1970’s. In recent years there have been a number of restaurants in this location, renamed Le Magasin, most recently the short-lived Blacktail. No doubt another concept will pop up soon.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 810-1

Posted March 13, 2017 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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164 West Cordova Street

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This small wooden building only lasted at most 14 years before it was redeveloped, but the replacement has managed to remain for 116 years so far. This picture of Charles Anderson’s store is thought to date from between 1892 and 1895. It’s certainly no later than 1899 when the current building was constructed by McDowell, Atkins & Watson and soon occupied by Stark’s Glasgow House. The new building was one of J E Parr’s first in the city (whether with or without Thomas Fee) and features a series of cast iron windows between brick piers.

Chas Anderson was a wholesale and retail grocery, fruit and fish merchant in 1891. Fortunately for historical research purposes, it looks as if he stayed in the city, switching to becoming a fish curer in 1896. He still had that job in 1901, when the census reveals that he was Scottish, arriving in Canada in 1891 with his wife Margaret and their two year old daughter, also called Margaret. By 1901 she was 12, and had two younger sisters, Jessie and Helen. That’s quite likely to be a young Margaret with her father in the picture, which would suggest it was taken closer to 1892 than 1895. Charles and Margaret had her parents living with them as well, John and Isabella Nicol, who were in their early 60s.

Charles continued to cure fish in the city for many years; his premises were at 1547 Main in 1919, when he registered a new Ford Truck (an event recorded in the British Columbia Record), and he was manager of Chas Anderson Fish Curing Co. In 1922 he gave evidence to the British Columbia Fisheries Commission on the state of the fishing industry. We can trace where Charles and his family were living before they moved to Canada: in 1917 his daughter Margaret Isabella married William Oswald, also a Scot. Her marriage record tells us that she had been born in Banffshire, Scotland. Margaret died in 1970, aged 81, still living in Vancouver.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P512

Posted March 9, 2017 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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