Archive for April 2018

888 Burrard Street

This rather unimpressive structure on Burrard Street will surely be redeveloped one day – although the residential strata from 1983 to the north may add some complexity, unless that’s also redeveloped at the same time. Today there’s a yoga studio upstairs and a Thai restaurant, a diamond store and a pub underneath. In our 1974 picture Denny’s were alongside a realty company, a furniture renatl store, and Hertz car rental, who had a huge rooftop signboard that would never be permitted today.

Before the retail uses this building was an automobile showroom, with Sherwood Motors selling imported Hillman cars. They were here in the early 1950s having replaced McLachlan Motors, who sold cars (Kaiser Fraser cars – an obscure brand that operated from 1946 to 1951), but also farm equipment and Rototiller machinery as well as Firestone tires. By 1950 McLachlan were selling DeSoto cars, as this advert shows – another brand heading for closure in 1960, but part of the Chrysler empire selling mid-line vehicles.

The company had been here since 1938, when Frank Leonard took this picture of the new building, now in the Vancouver Public Library collection. The corner was originally cut away, with the gas pumps underneath the second floor – something else that wouldn’t be permitted today, although it might be the only way that Downtown will have a gas station if it were possible for this arrangement to return in future.

The architects for the garage were E Evans and Son, but the design would have probably been by George Evans, who was running the company. Enoch Evans, the founder died in 1939, and hadn’t been active in the company for several years.

Before the garage was constructed there were four houses here, built in the early 1900s – similar to those visible to the north in the 1938 image.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-29


Posted April 30, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Richards Street – 1100 block, west side

This modest series of single and two storey commercial buildings were typical of the Downtown South commercial area in the 1980s. sandwiched between the earlier warehouse district built on CPR land in Yaletown, and the early ‘high street’ of Granville Street, the area started life as a residential neighbourhood but transformed into an industrial and commercial area from the 1920s. Many of the early houses were repurposed or replaced, but nothing was very substantial in scale, as these 1981 images show.

In the early 1990s a plan evolved to allow the area to transition to residential use. Initially mixed use was allowed, but very little development took place. Development took off once it became clear that this part of the area would be predominantly residential, with a retail layer added along Davie Street. The City of Vancouver identified the need to add parks and other public facilities, and this block was identified to be the largest, named as Emery Barnes Park after the first black politician in Canada to be elected Speaker of a Legislature, and a Vancouver resident. We’ve seen the final phase of the park in an earlier post; this corner represents the first phase, completed in 2003, with a fountain, stream, benches and planting. Funds to acquire the land were collected from Development Cost Levies on every development in the Downtown South area. Accumulated over time they have allowed the whole of the southern end of the block to be acquired and redeveloped as a park.

The buildings seen here at the southern end of the Richards side of the park all date from the industrial era of development. There were houses built here in 1901, and early on there was a laundry at the northern end of the block, but these buildings date from the 1920s to 1950 (on the corner). In 1930 several of the lots still had houses; Mrs Wright lived at 1179, although Vancouver Auto Cleaning was located behind her, on the lane (that no longer exists). Overwaitea Ltd had a warehouse next door, and S Miyauchi, a grocer was at 1191. There were two taxi companies based out of a building on the lane behind the corner lot, Eagle Taxi and Dollar Taxi. In 1955 the businesses in these properties were Gestetner duplicating machines, Tobac Jobbers, Con Jones’s tobacco distribution warehouse, J R Stratton, tires, H Cornfoot’s overalls business, Diwalt Sales who dealt in wholesale kitchenware and Canadian Car & Foundry auto parts.

By 1981 the car parts warehouse had become an Indian restaurant, and the other businesses sold sound systems, security products, ‘Western Offset Rebuilders’ and a business selling cash registers, liquor dispensing systems and electronic scales. There was a Service Club on the upper floor. Western Offset was run by a Dane, Kaj Jensen, who rebuilt printing equipment and repaired typewriters, helping people set up small print shops. Something of an entrepreneur, soon after he arrived in BC he traded 7 typewriters for a piece of land, and together with his wife Aase built a house in the forest by the Coquitlam River.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E07.06 and CVA 779-E07.05


Posted April 26, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Richards and Davie Street – se corner

Here’s the north end of the 1200 block of Richards Street, which today houses the Choices supermarket – one of the earliest food stores to open in the old Downtown South commercial neighbourhood as it started its transition to high rise residential. It started life as a laundry, which was still its use in our 1981 image when it was being operated by Canadian Linen Supply. In 1929, when it was built, it was operated by Canadian Linen Co; the same company still operating over 50 years later.

The architects were Townley and Matheson, who applied their art deco styling to the industrial premises, adopted avery effectively by Stuart Howard Architects in the design of the Metropolis Tower completed on the adjacent site in 1998. The laundry building was converted to retail use as part of the same project, with a density bonus covering the cost of retaining a single storey heritage structure.

This 1934 image shows that very few changes had taken place over the life of the building up to 1981, when it looked very similar, and the scale of the surrounding area matched. These days there’s a park across the street, and a series of residential towers have replaced almost all the older commercial structures.

Image sources; City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E08.15 and CVA 99-4653


Posted April 23, 2018 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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Gore Avenue and East Cordova Street

This 1889 Archives picture is titled “Mrs. Sullivan’s house – N.W. corner of Gore Avenue and Oppenheimer (E. Cordova) Street”. It’s not entirely accurate; the house was not actually Josephine Sullivan’s, but the newly completed home of her son, Arthur, although she did live here. In the 1891 census Arthur W Sullivan was living here, aged 31, listed as a general merchant. He had been born in BC, and his wife, Annie, was born in New Brunswick. Their infant son, also called Arthur, was obviously living with them, as was Charles, Arthur’s younger brother, Josephine, their 71-year-old mother and Lillian Wood, their domestic servant. The 1891 street directory identified both Arthur and Charles as musicians, rather than merchants. Annie and Arthur had been married in 1887. In 1895 Charles Sullivan, born in New Westminster, married Amy Lilian Wood of Wasbro, England.

Josephine was born in the US, and her late husband, Philip, in the West Indies, and they were both among the earliest black residents in the Lower Mainland. (In a 1934 interview W R Lord said neither were negro; both were ‘mulatto’, and Isaac Johns said she was part French, named Josephine Bassette). Philip and Josephine arrived in BC in 1859. Although some records suggest they came from San Francisco, her obituary shows her arriving via Panama, crossing the isthmus on mules, suggesting an eastern origin. Their son Arthur was baptized in New Westminster in 1860.

Accounts suggest the family settled on Water Street, with the first Methodist services being held in the family kitchen. Initially Philip may have been a cook in gold mining camps in the Cariboo, but by 1870 he was a steward at Moody’s Mill (on the North Shore), and Josephine apparently helped her husband to prepare the meals. Philip was also musically talented – he played the organ at the Methodist church. Josephine may have had a restaurant on Water Street in 1875, although we haven’t found any contemporary records that confirm this; similarly we can’t find anything to confirm Alan Morley’s statement that they ran the Gold Hotel on Water Street for a while, which may be connected to the fact that the Sullivan two-storey store run by Arthur was next door to the hotel. Interviews with Major Matthews suggest that the store and restaurant were separate premises, and Josephine may have run the restaurant while her husband worked on the North Shore at the mill.

Because BC joined Canada in 1871, just after the census was conducted that year, there are no records until the 1881 census when the whole family were shown living on the North Shore. Philip’s origin in the census record was altered from ‘West Indies’ to ‘Irish’, suggesting where his father (and his surname) may have come from. Philip was aged 64, his son John, also a steward, was 40, while Arthur was 21 and Charlie 17. There were at least two other children who had left home by the time that census was taken. A year later Arthur had a store in Granville, but Philip was still shown living in Moodyville.

Philip died in 1886 and by 1889 Josephine had joined Arthur, across the inlet in Vancouver, where he had established a general store when the town was still called Granville, in 1882. Charlie Sullivan was working as a clerk in his brother’s store in 1884. In 1889 the Daily World recorded that the house that the Sullivan family had occupied on Cordova Street had been moved to Water Street. The same year Sullivan’s Hall appeared on Cordova, half way between Abbott and Carrall, presumably occupying the location of the former house. Major Matthews recorded in his historical Archives notes an interview that said Philip Sullivan had cleared the land himself, and the family probably lived there before the fire, and rebuilt the house that was later moved, after the fire. It was a ‘squatted’ site on Cordova, and built around 1879. On the day of the fire Arthur Sullivan had sailed to the Mission on the north shore in his sailboat, and so escaped the blaze. At the time Josephine was staying in Joe Manion’s hotel, but escaped the flames. Sullivan’s Hall was used for musical performances, union meetings and other civic and entertainment purposes. It was briefly used as a courthouse with Judge Begbie presiding.

In 1889 Arthur was the subject of a sensational court case when he, and a Dr Langis were accused of procuring and carrying out an abortion. This was the first time in British Columbia history that the charge had been laid, and both men were found not guilty by the jury. When the trial commenced, and some of the preselected jurymen failed to show up, there was a rush to the doors by the crowd waiting to watch the trial – but enough failed to get out fast enough to avoid being immediately pressed into jury service.  A married woman, Mrs. Amanda Hogg, was the woman involved, but her testimony at trial (reported in great detail over many days and pages of the newspapers), was inconsistent and unreliable. There seems to be some doubt about whether Arthur had a dalliance with the lady in question (who he had met in the Methodist church choir), and there was confusion about whether there was an abortion or a miscarriage as a result of a fall, and the description of the dead child implied that it was unlikely to have been fathered by Arthur (identified as Negro in the 1901 census, and spoken of negatively in that connection by Mrs Hogg’s husband, James). Mrs. Hogg’s attempt to obtain $2,000 from Mr. Sullivan probably didn’t help her cause.

It appears that the case didn’t adversely impact Arthur’s standing as the town’s leading musician and ‘most popular master of ceremonies’. He and his brother and their families continued to live on East Cordova Street, and were said to own several other properties. James Hogg seems to have stayed living only a block away for at least a couple of years, but Amanda Hogg, not surprisingly, seems to have left town. Josephine Sullivan died in 1893, and in 1901, Arthur, Annie and Arthur junior lived in the same house as Charles and Amy; the house in the picture. Arthur still had his store, and Charles Sullivan apparently made his living as a musician, playing the piano and later being described as ‘just a barroom thumper’. He drowned while getting on board his rowboat at Andy Linton’s boat house at the foot of Carrall Street in 1906. His widow, Amy, moved to the West End, and that year Arthur moved to the north shore. Although he disappears from the street directory, his son, Arthur G Sullivan continued to be listed, and his father, Arthur was living in North Vancouver, a widower aged 61 when he died in 1921.

Once it was demolished, the site of his home was used as a parking lot for the adjacent court building for many years, and in 1983 was redeveloped as a remand centre with a jail block designed by Richard Henriquez. The cells were taken out of commission in 2002, and in 2011 Henriquez Partners designed the conversion of the building to non-market housing, adding windows to replace the widowless cell pods.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P73


Posted April 19, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Hornby Street – 1000 block, west side

In our 1981 picture there was a parking lot on a raised podium on Hornby Street. Down the street London Place was nearing completion; a hybrid condo-over-office building in the red brick favoured by the City Planner of the day, designed by Anthony Debecki. The parking lot was the former playground of the Dawson School, with a site stretching from Hornby to Burrard and Helmcken to Nelson. The first building was completed as the West End School in 1893, on Burrard; it was enlarged in 1897, and became the King George Secondary School when a new Dawson elementary was built at the end of the block on Helmcken Street in 1913. The schools were demolished in 1972.

Once the School Board sold the block it was acquired by Peter Wall, who built the dark glazed Wall Centre on the site. Three architectural practices designed the almost black glazed initial towers; Hamilton, Doyle, Bruno Freschi and Chris Doray. One tower houses the Sheraton Wall Centre hotel, the other is condos, and that end of the block was completed in 1994.

At this end of the block, on Nelson, we can see the podium of the equally dark (but originally promised crystal clear) One Wall Centre, with condos over additional hotel rooms designed by Busby and Associates, and eventually completed in 2001. Once the switch to dark rather than clear glazing was revealed during construction, the City issued a stop work order. Eventually a compromise was agreed with the condos in clearer glazing, and the lower hotel floors retaining the dark glass. It was re-clad a darker shade, but slightly different from the hotel floors on the failing upper floors a few years ago. (The failure was said to be of the seals on the clear glazing, and replacement was also necessary because solar gain heated units beyond the capacity of the air conditioning to handle on very sunny days).

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W08.02


Posted April 16, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Dawson School, Helmcken Street

There was a school located on this block from 1893. Although today we think of the West End starting at Burrard Street, and this location as part of Downtown, this was initially called the West End School. Thomas Tracy designed the first building which fronted Burrard, which opened in 1893, and G W Grant designed an addition to it in 1897. It became known as the Dawson School in 1900. (It’s visible behind the 1913 school on the left of the picture.)

Later this building on Helmcken Street was added, the Sir William Dawson School, designed by Norman Leech, (the Board of Education’s resident architect), in 1912 with a $135,000 building permit. In 1914, the Burrard Street building became the King George High School when this new Dawson elementary school building was opened. It’s the building that Jimi Hendrix asked whether it was still standing when he played the Pacic Colloseum concert in 1968. He implied he had attended the school, although there are no records that confirm it (or any other Vancouver school).

The school was named for Sir John William Dawson, a Canadian geologist and president of McGill University, and closed in 1972, (the year this image was taken), and demolished later that year. The School Board eventually decided to sell the site and today it’s one of the forbidding dark glass towers of the Wall Centre; this corner is part of the hotel use completed in 1994, other parts of the complex include condos.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-276


Posted April 12, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Dawson School, Burrard Street

This is the enlarged Dawson School on Burrard Street, seen in 1902, with its new name, five years after it was doubled in size. The right hand half of the building was the first part to be built, opening as the West End School in 1893 (the third in the city, after the East End School and Central School). On the left is a picture of construction wrapping up in 1892. The lack of symmetry of the earlier building, and the blank windows in the design suggests it was built with the expectation that it would be made larger.

Thomas Tracy designed this first building which fronted Burrard, which in 1892 was pretty much still a dirt track. Tracy was appointed City Engineer in 1891, and was also responsible for the construction of sewer and water supply systems throughout the city.  When the school needed to be enlarged a few years after initial construction, G W Grant was hired, but he used Tracy’s design as a template and added a new northern wing in an exact match of Tracy’s.

Tracy – who was always referred to by his military title as Colonel Tracy in the newspapers – was reported to have been dismissed from his job in early 1905, although he was still working for the city in August, and his dismissal was only reported in the London, Ontario press, (where he originated from), not in Vancouver. His interests extended beyond his professional duties; he owned and developed property on Hastings Street, and by the spring of 1905 he was already designing water and sewer systems for other municipalities including Fernie and Ladysmith while holding down his Vancouver job. He stood for election to the Board of Parks at the end of 1905 when he was described as Ex-City Engineer Tracy.

When a new Dawson School was added to the south of this building, facing Helmcken Street, the original building became the King George High School. At some point it lost the pointed roof on the central tower on the northern end, as seen in this undated VSB image. The school was replaced in 1963 with a new building in the heart of the West End.

Today the site is the landscaped gardens (over the underground parking) of the Wall Centre hotel and condos, with two towers completed in 1994 and the taller tower to the north in 2001.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives Sch P29 and CVA SGN 48


Posted April 9, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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