1000 block Richards Street – west side

These modest houses in the Downtown managed to last for over a century, although they had been cleared away several years before the new building that now stands on the corner of Richards and Helmcken. New Jubilee House is designed by GBL Architects, and was a replacement for Jubilee House, a modest non-market building to the south. The new building has nearly twice the units, and is concrete rather than wood-frame, so much more substantial.

The houses that were here in our 1981 image were first built around 1907, when the building permit records are missing. The first residents were Harry Gray, a clerk, who lived in the house closest to us, and Mrs Mary Vincent in the second house. There was a third, more imposing house on the corner that dated back to 1902 which had been designed by W T Whiteway for Robert Willis, although it was always tenanted; by Edwin Bridge, a teamster in 1903, and Frederick Mileson, an electrician, in 1908.

In 1911 George R Wilson lived on the corner, Robert L Erisman next door, and Mrs Vincent was still living in the third house. It wasn’t entirely clear why Mrs. Vincent, born in New-Foundland and 63 years old in 1911, was the name in the street directory. According to the census she shared the house with her family, including her husband Robert (also from New-Foundland) who was 67, and children Minnie, aged 19, born in BC, and William, who was 40 and also born in New-Foundland. It became clearer when their employment was taken into account. Minnie was a stenographer. Robert was retired according to the street directory, but the census said he was a ship’s carpenter,  while William was seaman. For the purposes of the street directory it was Mary and Minnie who counted as resident, although in earlier years (and also after he had retired) Robert was listed as a carpenter.

By 1915 all three houses had new residents, and there’s a continuous turnover of changing names suggesting these were probably rental properties. Later this part of town changed from being wholly residential. By the start of the second world war the corner had become the base for Eagle Taxi. Next door Mrs Robinson’s house was let as rooms, and so were Edgar and Elsie McKinnin’s house to the north. Just up the street businesses had moved in, with the Central Sheet Metal Works and the Heating and Ventilation Company of BC. The shift to business premises continued for decades, although houses like these continued to be scattered throughout the area.

Now almost built-out as the Downtown South residential area, thousands more people live here than at any earlier point in previous history.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E05.30 (wronly labeled as 500 block Dunsmuir Street)

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Posted September 4, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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