1000 block West Pender Street

There are two buildings here that were replaced in the 1960s, seen here in a 1931 Vancouver Public Library image. On the left is the Essex Rooms at 1033, while next door were the Duchess Rooms, at 1025. These were apparently developed by the A S French Auto Co in 1910, as a $55,000 ‘garage and rooms’, designed by ‘Blackmore’. The Essex Rooms were described as a warehouse when their building permit was issued in 1909 to Crickmay Bros. who hired Honeyman and Curtis to design the $14,000 investment. The main floor was occupied by the BC Anchor Fence Co when the building was completed. Baynes and Horie were the contractors, while Hemphill Brothers built Austin French’s building.

In 1911 the Daily World announced “The A. S. French Auto Co. are now occupying their new commodious quarters at 1027 Pender Street West, and have the largest fireproof and most up to date garage and sales rooms in British Columbia. They have a storage capacity for 600 cars, and carry besides a full line of accessories. The building is of reinforced concrete, absolutely fireproof, and with two floors, 66×132 feet In size. Each floor has a level driveway entrance, the lower being on Seaton street, and the upper on Pender. When the outside decorations are completed, the building will present an extremely attractive appearance. “Any one wanting a Napier car this season will have to hustle.” said Mr. A. S. French, “as the allotment for this year Is almost sold out. Nearly all the cars allotted us are in now, only five or six carloads remaining to be delivered. I have no idea how many Napiers have been sold in Vancouver without looking up the records, but as an instance of the way they are going I might mention that last week I sold over $42,000 worth, including the sales of Saturday night after dinner, which amounted to $19,500. We are open for business day and night. Besides the Napier we also handle the Stoddard – Dayton cars, which I consider the best car on the market for the money. The Napier is a British built car.”

Fred and Alf Crickmay were customs brokers, The had offices in the Pacific Securities Building, across from the customs building and overlooking the harbour. Fred had arrived from England in 1886, and by 1901 were already successful in the brokering business. Fred shared a house that year with his two older sisters. By 1912 he was also managing director of the BC Anchor Fence Co, and had moved to Shaughnessy Heights. Alfred had arrived in 1888, and was married with two children in 1901, with a 19 year old Japanese servant called Verna. By 1912 he had moved to North Vancouver.

A few years after construction in 1915 the Duchess Rooms had become the Driard Hotel, managed by J K Ramsay, while the Essex Rooms had Mrs E T Armstrong as proprietor. A S French continued in business, switching to selling the Overland cars in 1916 (at only $850), and in 1922 the Chandler, Cleveland and Liberty Six lines of vehicles. His father, Captain George French (whose warehouse we saw in an earlier post), Austin, and Austin’s son, (also George) were all associated with the company.

In 1978 the 26 storey Oceanic Plaza office building was completed here. A later cousin to the Guinness Tower across the street, it was developed by British Pacific Building Ltd and designed by Charles Paine and Associates.

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Posted August 24, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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