900 West Pender Street (1)

The building on the left, on the corner of Hornby and West Pender, was completed in 1952; one of a number of modest new office buildings that were constructed in this part of Downtown in the years following the end of the war. It was developed by the Yorkshire Trust, a UK based organization when it was founded, which built a portfolio of investment properties in the city. This 1952 office was designed by McCarter and Nairne. The site was once the soda water manufacturing premises of Cross and Co, in the early 20th century, and in 1909 was vacant, and a year later the City Produce & Dairy Co Ltd were here.

The adjacent building was older, and a low cost hotel, the 43 room Midtown. In 1909 this was listed as a ‘new building’, which a year later were identified as the Benge furnished rooms with the Benge Café was downstairs. Later they were listed as the Benge Apartments, and by 1930 the Benge Rooms. When they opened John W Pattison was running the rooms, but Fred Fuller developed the $24,000 project; hiring Parr and Fee to design it, although Mr. Pattison almost certainly named the building.

We saw John’s later business, a car dealership, in an earlier post. John was married in 1909 to Eva Brown, a widow, born in Govenor, New York. In 1911 John and Eva were living with their sons, James and Gordon Benge, listed as aged 15 and 14. Although we haven’t been able to trace the marriage, we’re pretty confident that Eva previously married a Mr. Benge, and had two sons before being widowed and marrying John Pattison. Gordon Benge, born in 1897 in Govenor, New York, was drafted into the US Army in Minneapolis in 1917, and died in King County (Seattle) in 1972. James Benge, born a year later in New York was resident in Minneapolis in 1940. John appears to have named the apartments after his wife’s first husband.

The building in 1974 when this picture was taken also included the Yokohama Japanese Restaurant, One Hour Martinizing, and Principal Trust. One Hour Martinizing was pioneered by a New York chemist named Henry Martin in 1949. At the time, dry cleaning was done with flammable solvents, so the cleaning was dropped off at a storefront and then transported to the cleaning facility, and returned a few days later days later for pickup. By using Martin’s non-flammable solvent, dry cleaning plants could be located much more conveniently, and the process could be carried out in a much more timely manner.

Today this is part of the office occupied by Manulife, completed in 1985, designed by Webb Zerafa Menkes Housden Partnership. Initially we think it was developed by Montreal Trust.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-312


Posted November 23, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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