Archive for May 2017

Vancouver Club – West Hastings Street

The front of the Vancouver Club hasn’t changed in over 40 years, as this 1976 image shows. In fact, it hasn’t changed much in over 100 years, from 1914 when it was completed to Sharp and Thompson’s design. The back of the building is a different matter. When it was built it sat on top of an escarpment, looking out over the railway tracks and wharves. The design was distinctly ‘back of house’ as nobody really saw it. That changed over time as the port functions moved and the road network gradually expanded northwards with new connections, effectively huge bridges, linking up at the West Hastings grade with the creation of Canada Place. Now the Waterfront Centre is across the street (and an extended Cordova Street), and beyond that is the Convention Centre. In 1992 the remodeling of the building saw a new façade facing north and internal layout, with a cantilevered element on the upper floor.

Founded in 1889, it was a number of clubs established by local businessmen; the city’s elite were members of the Vancouver Club. They had C O Wickenden (a club member) design their first premises in 1893, and once this new building was completed the Quadra Club occupied their old building (which was next door, to the east, and finally demolished in 1930).

Image source: City of Vancouver archives CVA 780-34

Posted May 29, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Temple Building – 515 West Pender Street

Because the building permit records for the early 1900s are missing, we can’s be certain that our attributions here are correct; we’ve already revisited this post as a result of further research.

The Temple Building in the centre was probably built in 1906. When completed it was numbered as 505-519 West Pender. In 1906 the main floor tenants included BC Assay and Chemical Supply Co at 513, while W S Holland of Holland and Davidson Real Estate was at 517. In 519 W Pender, Guilding & Folley, auctioneers occupied the space in 1906, but in 1908 it was Morrison and Morrison, builders supplies, E G Blackwell, manufacturer’s agent, and Hood Brothers, real estate. That’s a clue to who might have developed the building. William Hood built other property on Pender, he could have developed this as well. (There were in fact a second Acland Hood Hall, also on West Pender). There’s a 1906 entry in the Contract Record magazine saying that a business block was to be erected on Pender Street for W A Hood, designed by Dalton & Eveleigh.

The Hood brothers arrived around 1906 from Cupar, in Fife, Scotland, and successfully ran a real estate business for over 50 years. (Robert Hood developed a sideline as a writer – his first novel was published in 1918, and he published seven books; fiction, non-fiction and poetry over a thirty year writing career). They were more ambitious than some of their rivals, advertising in an Oregon newspaper in 1920 for example “FIVE-STORY and basement modem brick hotel, on Granville street, Vancouver. B. C, 75-ft. frontage, most of furniture goes with building, tenant’s lease expiring, for sale at a sacrifice. HOOD BROS., 626 Pender street west, Vancouver.”

Upstairs, at 515 was the Monte Carlo Rooming House. This arrangement remained for several years, although the real estate offices by 1909 were occupied by “the International Brokerage Co. A Sinclair, timber broker, the B C Ink Co and A Erskine Smith, mines” (he was a mining broker, living up the street in the St Francis Hotel). When this 1946 Vancouver Public Library image was taken, Vick’s Radio Service was in one main floor retail unit, Harvey & Riach’s furniture store occupied the other space, and upstairs were the Temple Rooms.

To the west is a 2-storey building that almost certainly was developed in 1905 and designed by Grant and Henderson for trader and broker Richard Winch. Mr. Winch was amazingly successful, amassing a fortune from starting in grocery and game retailing,  canning salmon, and then also became a broker, supplier, and insurance and shipping agent. He invested his profits from these businesses into real estate, building one of the city’s most prestigious office buildings, and trading in real estate across the city. He owned a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost in 1910, and had three servants at home in 1911.

We identified the development by an early image in the BC Archives that shows the cornice in 1912, identifying the building as “R V Winch Building” although it was shown by then on the insurance map as the Ackroyd Building. We assume the name change is because Mr. Winch had already built the much larger and fancier Winch Building on West Hastings.

Today the Conference Plaza development is here, completed in 1996 and designed by Aitken Wreglesworth Associates. The Pender Street facades recreate a low podium similar in scale to what was there before, with a 30 storey 252 unit condo tower on the corner with Seymour.

Dunsmuir and Homer Street – sw corner

We’ve seen the buildings here in a couple of earlier posts: the first building constructed here was St Ann’s Academy, and subsequently the parking structure with retail on the main floor (seen again here in this 1970s Vancouver Public Library image). It was replaced in 1984 with the low-rise component of 401 West Georgia, a 22 storey office tower designed by Aitken, Smith, Carter Architects. Now there’s a proposal for what would be the fourth building to be located here, an 11-storey office building designed by B&H Architects.

The area will change more, because there’s a tower proposed to be built on the parking garage of the Scotiatower, completed in 1976. That will be to the left of the tower, behind Zoltan Kiss’s 1974 tower for the Diamond Family, seen behind the parkade  (so pushing the image back to over 40 years ago). Down the street, beyond the Holy Rosary Cathedral, the Dunsmuir Hotel will be included in some way in the redevelopment of the Bay Parkade, and on the immediate left hand edge of the picture the Post Office has a proposal to add office, rental and condo residential towers on top of the repurposed heritage structure.

Posted May 22, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

602 Keefer Street

Gregory Tom was the headmaster of Lord Strathcona School, across the street from here, when he had this house built in 1902. He was aged 39, and had come to Vancouver from Victoria, where he taught school. His early years were spent in Usborne, in Huron County, Ontario, which is where we think he was born (and listed in the 1871 census as Greggory). He had at least three siblings, one of them becoming a Senator in Toledo, Ohio. In 1888 Gregory emigrated to New York, but by 1891 he was in Victoria, aged 27 and still single.

Before he moved into his new home, which cost $1,000, he had married Caroline Fitton, also from Ontario and a few years younger than her husband, and they hade a son, Reginald, in 1896. William Cline, a carpenter and builder designed and built the house, as he did several others down the same street. It looks as if he was born in Quebec, while his wife, Mary, came from Ontario, but their children, including carpenters Albert and William H were born in the USA. This house was addressed as 602 on either street, Keefer, or Princess. We’ve noted many times that the 1911 census is unreliable, and it proved to be so for the Tom family, where Gregory is recorded as Anthony, although the details of the home address, (by then 1602 E 12th Ave where the family moved to that year), his occupation, Caroline and Reginald are all correct.

By 1921 Gregory had moved on to be the principal of Alexandra School, and was living on Point Grey Road. Reginald was still living at home, training as a lawyer with Williams Walsh McKim & Housser. Adding a further decade finds Gregory still working as principal of a school, and Reginald still at home, but now a barrister. Gregory retired in the early 1930s and died in 1938 in Vancouver, and Caroline in 1949 when she was living in New Westminster. Their son, Reginald Fitton Tom died at aged 43 in Vancouver in March 1940, still living at home.

The house narrowly avoided the ‘slum clearance’ that would have replaced the entire Strathcona neighbourhood with more contemporary housing, but by 1977 when this image was taken it wasn’t at its best (although much better than many in the area). In recent years the house has been restored to something closer to its original state.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1135-28

Posted May 18, 2017 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Secord Hotel – 401 Powell Street

Angus Secord born 1850 in New Brunswick, and died in 1897; (he’s buried in Mountain View Cemetery). He was shown living in Vancouver in the 1891 census, but he was still living with his parents in New Brunswick in 1881. He was on the city’s 1886 voter’s list, and in the 1887 street directory where he was listed as a builder, in partnership with John Garvin, on Dupont Street. He could trace his family back to Ambrose Sicard, a Frenchman who was born in 1631, moved to England and then, in 1888 (the year he died), New York. We know Angus was a carpenter, because he was responsible for the woodwork on his hotel, which he may have designed as well.

The Vancouver Daily World described the new hotel: “On the ground floor are the dining-room, kitchen, sample-room – for this hotel is intended for a commercial as well as a family house – and smaller necessary rooms, besides a neat little store. The first floor consists of parlors for guests and bed rooms, and the third storey of private parlors, rooms en suite and single rooms. The house is specially arranged for a family boarding hotel. No liquor will be sold, and every provision will be made for a quiet, cheerful, comfortable residence. A balcony for each storey surrounds the building, to which there is a ready exit from the spacious halls within. By this arrangement, whether the guest wishes to sit in the shade or sun, he may do so at all times of the day. From the balconies the most delightful view of the surroundings may be obtained; but better still, there is an exit upon the level roof from which the scenery spreading out to view is grandly picturesque. All the smaller conveniences will be supplied, such as bath-rooms on every floor, and electric bells in each of the thirty-eight rooms for guests. The interior is being finished in cedar, stained and varnished.” Here’s the Lady’s Parlour in the newly completed hotel.

The lack of liquor continued after Mr. Secord’s death; it was listed as ‘Temperance Hotel’ on the 1912 Insurance map of the city. By 1920 it had become the Imperial Hotel, part of the expanding Japanese character of the area as it was run by Hyakutaro Honda. He was still running the hotel a decade later, but downstairs was the Imperial Beer Parlour run by R Willis. (It’s interesting to note that there was a sushi restaurant two doors along the street). By the time the Japanese were rounded up and removed from the city, Robert Willis had already taken over running the hotel, although he lived on Nelson Street with his wife Adelaide. In 1947 the hotel name changed to the Marr, with Arthur Field as the manager, although the Imperial Beer Parlour was still downstairs.

The balconies were removed many years ago, but the Marr name is retained today, and the building has just been given a new seismic and structural lease of life in a renovation by BC Housing as an SRO hotel, managed by Atira.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives Hot P23.1 and Hot P85.

Posted May 15, 2017 by ChangingCity in Altered, East End

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1105 Granville Street

In 1919 A E Henderson designed a $15,000 garage for agents Griffith & Lee, built by J B Arthur. This picture was taken two years later, and shows the Oldsmobile dealership of Bowell McDonald. They soon added Oakland cars to the mix; an Oldsmobile six sold from this showroom in 1924 would have cost you $1,345. (According to the Bank of Canada inflation calculator, that would be $18,700 today).

Not too much later, in 1925, Bowell McDonald expanded, moving to another concentration of vehicle showrooms on West Georgia. Later they moved again to Burrard Street, became Bowell McLean, and then to West Broadway, where their name can still be seen behind the Toys r Us sign. After they headed to West Georgia, Chevrolet Sales moved into this building, but by the 1930s the vehicle connection was lost and this became the West Port Food Market. Over the years a variety of retail stores have come and gone – and the building has been smartened up in recent years, initially for clothing store Le Chateau, and now for another clothing store, 8th & Main.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Trans N13

Posted May 11, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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2 West Pender Street

This sliver of a building has just been given a 21st century ‘makeover’ with the addition of a light show to an otherwise modest insurance office. The justification for the show is that, according to the Guiness Book of Records, this is the shallowest commercial building in the world; (not the narrowest). It was built in 1913, designed by Bryan and Gillam for the Sam Kee Company and cost just $8,000 to erect. (Behind it is a tenement building developed by another Chinatown merchant, Wing Sang).

It’s a good example of the hassles faced by the Chinese merchant community in the early days of the 20th Century – and their resilience. Sam Kee was an invented name for a company run by Chang Toy. He had built a 2-storey brick building here around 1901, one of several significant hotels and commercial buildings he developed. When the City of Vancouver moved to expropriate the site to widen Pender Street, Sam Kee instructed their lawyer to negotiate for $70,000 compensation in order that they achieved the $62,000 they estimated that the site was worth.

Our 1920s Vancouver Public Library image (above) shows that not content with getting the money, Chang Toy then got his architects to devise a steel framed structure that would maximize the development potential of his site, which was on average only six feet deep, and slightly less at one end. He added a barber’s shop (in 1920 it was run by Foo Key), and public baths in the basement, lit with glazed blocks set into the sidewalk. The main store was occupied by Sam Shing Lin Kee & Co, a shoestore.

In 1936, when the image above was shot, this may not have been an all Chinese tenanted building. While Chin Kee had a shoe repair business here and Y Kee was offering to repair or clean and press laundry, hotdogs and hamburgers only cost a nickel in the centre booth. Hires is a brand of root beer – still manufactured today and the second oldest soft drink brand in North America, dating back to 1875.  The corner unit, not visible in the picture, was the home of the Wong’s ‘Modernize Tailors’ store.

By 1961 when Walter Frost photographed the building (left) there was a tailor, Mr. E Rogers, and Wong’s jewelers and camera store (where they also cut keys) in the other half of the building.

Image sources; Vancouver Public Library and City of Vancouver Archives Bu N158.3 and CVA 447-346

Posted May 8, 2017 by ChangingCity in Chinatown, Still Standing

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