Homer Street north from West Georgia Street

This modest almost suburban street doesn’t look like the heart of a busy metropolis, but in 1948, it was. The clue that you’re in a city is in the background, where the Hotel Alcazar can be seen on Dunsmuir Street. At the far end of the block on the corner of Dunsmuir was a single storey retail building. The tallest building on this block is a three storey building about two thirds of the way down. 632 Homer Street was built in 1912 as three-storey brick & concrete printing shop by Gustav Roedde, who claimed to have designed and built it himself. He also moved the 1904 house built by F H Donovan on the adjacent lot to the north, presumably to allow construction of his building. There had been a house built on the lot in 1901, designed by Bedford Davidson for Mr. Goldstern. Mr. Roedde was a bookbinder who was born in Germany, worked his way from Cleveland to San Francisco to Victoria, and eventually settled in Vancouver in 1888. He started work at the News Advertiser, was briefly based on West Cordova, and then in 1892 moved to premises on Cambie Street. His building here was renumbered to 616 Homer in 1948, but was still the home of G A Roedde Ltd, printers.

To the south, also in 1901, R M Fripp designed a house for Robert Mee. In 1948 it had been redeveloped (or altered) as a single storey building on the street, home to the BC Journal of Commerce. The two storey building at 622 was the home of Smith Marking Devices, as well as printers Cornell & Burroughs, and as the bus poking from the archway shows, it was also the Greyhound Bus Company depot.

Closer to us is a house that had been built in 1902 by the Church of England as a mission, designed by W T Dalton. The house to the south of the mission, extending forward to the sidewalk by 1948, was built by Fred Melton in 1910. By 1920 it was home to another printing firm, Trythall & Son, run by Wm J, Wm T and E Howard Trythall. The family were living on Nelson Street in 1921, and William and his wife Minnie were both shown aged 50. William had arrived in Canada in 1888, and Minnie in 1909. They had a six-year-old daughter, Marjorie at home, and a governess and lodger. William Trythall, William’s father lived next door, as well as their son Ernest, (known by his middle name, Howard) who was also a printer. They appear to be living with William and Ernest’s sister and her husband, George Peake. Fred Peake worked for Trythall and Son as well, living in the West End. In 1948 It was still a printer’s: J A Kershaw.

The buildings to the north, closer to the camera, predated the turn of the century as owner J H MacNab carried out repairs costing $300 in 1901. Next door to them, to the north, was another house that was built before 1901 (666 Homer) that had repairs carried out in 1915 for the Chinese Trust Co. In 1948 both houses were listed as vacant. The site was probably in process of being acquired for redevelopment. The new General Post Office, which takes up the entire block was completed in 1956. Designed by McCarter and Nairne, it is now a heritage building that will be repurposed as a retail and office project, with new towers above the restored 1950s structure.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str P256

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Posted May 10, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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