Archive for May 2017

Hartney Chambers – West Pender Street

The building on the corner of Homer and West Pender is numbered as 347 West Pender, because this is only a short block. It’s a small building because it shares the lot with an older structure, the original offices for the Daily World newspaper in 1892, and later for the News Herald. Down the street is the Pender Ballroom and the Riggs-Selman Building.

Hartney Chambers was completed in 1909, and designed by W F Gardiner, who then had his offices here. He tendered the building in the last week of February 1908, and tenants were advertising their businesses in the building a year later. Tenants leased either a single or double room in the building, and so were small , often one-man businesses. The Daily World in July 1908 described the building, which today could benefit from some attention, but at the time had ‘a handsome entrance’ to the offices on the upper floors, with a tiled entrance and space for a shoe shine stand. The facades, which have been painted for many years, was originally of pressed brick with New Zealand stone trimmings. The building was fitted with electric lights and steam heating,

We had no idea about who the ‘Hartney’ is that the building was named for, or why the name appeared on it. There were no contemporary records we can find that link the building to an investor called Hartney, although there were two possible candidates in the city, Charles and Patrick, and neither one seems more likely than the other. Both ended up running hotels in the city. The Hartney Real Estate Co had offices in 1907 on West Hastings, but frustratingly their advertisements don’t identify the owner, and the company seems to have lasted only a few months.

The developer was listed on the building permit as Peter G Drost, and the Daily World referred to it as the Drost and Turnbull Building. Adkison & Dill built it at a cost of $22,000. Drost continued to own the building, as he carried out some repairs in 1919. He was born in Ontario around 1863, and in 1891 was living in Whitewater in Selkirk, Manitoba where he was a grocer. That’s where the ‘Hartney’ name almost certainly comes from; Mr. Drost acquired a homestead in Manitoba, and then in the 1890s ran a flour and feed store in the newly expanding railway town of Hartney. In 1895 a fire destroyed much of the centre of the town, reaching Drost’s store.

In 1901 he was still in Manitoba, but in Brandon. He first shows up in Vancouver in 1903, with this rather odd entry, as a manufacturer. The advertisement from the Delta News from November 1902 explains a little more.

In the 1911 census he was living on the 2600 block of Columbia street of Vancouver. In the census he was described as retired (at age 48), but in the directory he was listed as a broker, with his office in this building on West Pender. His wife, Anne, aged 52 was with him, also from Ontario, along with Estelle, 26 and Harold, 23, born in Ontario, and four more sons aged 18 to 12, all born in Manitoba. In 1911 Mr. Drost used the same team of architect and builder to build a rooming house on Powell Street.

Mr. Drost was a Methodist, and involved in running the Central City Mission. In 1912 he was manager of the Mission, reporting that “2,034 men had been given free beds apart from the men who had been given free shake – downs”. In 1930 he had a huge row with the directors, who ran the operation in a way that he didn’t believe followed Christian values as it was run as a private company, and sometimes turned the destitute away. Clearly his disagreements were eventually resolved as the Archives have this image of him in 1949, burning the mortgage for the Mission.

Our image was shot some time in the 1970s, and today the building is still standing as a backpackers hostel. In 1918 it was home to the Vagabond Club, but by 1920 there were some rooms in residential use and by 1930 it had switched to entirely residential use as the Hartney Apartments.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-16 and CVA 371-1576

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Posted May 4, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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317 West Pender Street

In this 1974 image the Victory Block (as it’s now named) had space to rent, and a fire escape on the façade. To the west was the Pender Ballroom, and to the east the Roberts Block. When it was built in 1908 (the same year as the Roberts Block) it was called the Riggs Selman Building, named for its investor developers, Samuel Spencer Selman and Dr. Herbert Wilkinson Riggs. If he read it, Mr. Selman was no doubt unimpressed by the news report that “Dr. H. W. Riggs and Mr. S. Salmon have taken out a permit for a four-storey brick block to be erected on Pender street, between Homer and Hamilton street, at cost of $40,000. The building will have a frontage of 50 feet.”

Oddly, for such a strikingly designed building, there’s no reference to an architect. There is another building completed that year which has some architectural details somewhat similar to this block, albeit rather less exuberant; the Shaldon Hotel on East Hastings was designed by H B Watson.

Dr Riggs was a physician and surgeon, born in Wicklow in Ontario in 1872. He trained in Winnipeg and Edinburgh, and arrived in BC in 1899. In 1901 he was still single, but he soon married and had two daughters, lived on West Georgia and was a member of the Terminal City  and University Clubs. As with many of the city’s successful professionals Dr Riggs also took a keen interest in property development. As well as this building, he had interests in the Dominion Trust Company (in 1907) and the Federal Trust Company, and was a director in both companies. He was a Freemason, and also governor of the Pacific-Northwest District of the Kiwanis from 1918 to 1920. He was president of the Vancouver Medical Association and in 1930 was appointed by the Provincial Secretary to the Board of Vancouver General Hospital.

Samuel Selman was a realtor in 1908 (representing the Manitoba Land Co), and born in Ontario in 1862. He married Clara Barr in Ontario in 1883, and by 1901 they had moved to Victoria, and had several children, Ella, (or Elba as she was shown in Victoria), May, Hubert, Gordon, Mary, (Marie on her wedding certificate), and Roy. Clara’s mother, Mary Barr also lived with them. Tragically, Ella accidentally died of drowning in English Bay in 1908; at the time she was crippled, on crutches, and slipped in the water. Samuel switched employment a number of times. In 1901 he was shown in the census as a lumberman, although he doesn’t appear in the street directory in Victoria until 1903 when he was listed as a grocer. In 1911 he was President of the Canadian Pipe Co, a position he first held in 1909. He died in 1947,

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-265

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