Howe and Davie Street – sw corner (1)

For many years this site remained vacant, as site remediation from the earlier use as a gas station was needed. Eventually the site was cleared, excavated, and redeveloped, but the gas station use went back many decades. Here’s the Home gas station seen in a 1929 Vancouver Public Library image. The street directory doesn’t mention the gas bar, but that year Mutch Tires are listed, and a year later they had been replaced by Wallace and Co’s radiator repair business. A year earlier there appears to have been a house here, so the date for the picture looks to be correct. W F Gardiner designed a series of gas stations for Home Oil between 1927 and 1937, so he may have designed this one.

A few years earlier George Mutch’s tire store had been on Granville Street, and it was still there a year later, but for just one year, 1929, they tried branching out with a second location, although the timing was probably unfortunate, given the state of the economy. Home Gasoline were based in Alberta, and in February of 1929 they hit a bonanza. Pierre Berton told their story; “In January you could buy a hundred shares of Home Oil for $350 (or $3.50 per share) with a down payment of less than $50 and sell them in March for $1,585 (or $15.85 per share), But hardly anybody sold, because everybody believed stock prices would continue to rise. And for another six months they did.” Will McMartin in the Tyee explained that Home Oil’s stock-market valuation made William C. Shelly, B.C.’s finance minister and the company’s president, who had bought his seed shares for just a dollar each, an extremely wealthy man. By March 5, Home Oil hit an all-time high of $18, and Shelly’s personal stake in the firm was estimated at close to $2 million. Six months later as the stock market weakened, investors began to sell their Home Oil stock. On Oct. 25, the day after Black Thursday, the company’s shares were down to $12.65. Home Oil Co. Ltd was nearly wiped out in the years following the stock market crash. From a high of $18 the company’s stock two years later was trading at just fifteen cents. William Shelly lost his personal fortune, and his job as Finance Minister.

Today the building here is called Alto, a condo building completed in 2010 whose name references the ten foot ceilings.

Posted February 26, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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