139 East Cordova Street

This building, with its fancy brickwork patterns, dates back to 1912 when it was built by Dominion Construction at a cost of $22,000. The developer was A C McNeil, and helpfully, we don’t need to look for him in the city’s street directories as he was recorded on the building permit as ” (of Montana, USA)”. He hired J P Matheson as his architect on the building that would open as the Harbour Rooms, run by Mrs. Essie Thompson. There had been a house on the lot before this development was built.

Quite why Mr. McNeil chose to build here is unclear, but there is a Butte resident who regularly visited the west coast, including Washington and Oregon. In 1917 A C McNeill was recorded as having taken a 1,300 road trip from Butte to ‘Spokane and the west’ with his wife and daughter – a remarkable distance for a road trip at the time. He visited Vancouver Island in 1929 and seems to have been a hotelier later in the 1930s, in Butte.

By the 1920s the spelling of the name had taken on the US preference – the Harbor Rooms – run by Mrs Ella Kelly in 1920, and Charles T Berryman from 1921 (who arrived in the city after the 1921 census). He also ran the Harbor Bar downstairs. By 1930 the name had changed to the New Harbor Rooms, run by H Anderson, and by 1934 the New Harbour Rooms, run by C Traversy. (The new art deco black retail façade might have been added around this time, although it could have been in 1945 when the building’s name was changed). In 1938 The New Harbor Rooms were run by Uda Zenkichi. In 1942 there was still a Japanese proprietor, H Iwasaki, but a year later he would have been interned, and Quon Hon had taken over. In 1945 the proprietorship changed to Pang Mock, and the name to the United Rooms. It still had that name when this 1985 image was taken, and today when the rooms are managed as a privately owned SRO rooming house by the Shun Chi Company.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-2450

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Posted September 20, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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