Powell Street – 800 block, north side (2)

We saw both these buildings in earlier posts. The smaller three storey building that’s still standing today (to the west of the larger building) was developed by former CPR stores manager Richard Bowman in 1906. The adjacent larger building came five years later, again developed by Mr. Bowman. He occupied the upper floors as a storage warehouse, and leased the main and basement stores to a variety of tenants over the years. His son, Oscar took over the business, and commissioned another warehouse on East Hastings in the early 1920s, (although we’re fairly certain it was never built). From 1950 Bowman Storage also occupied premises across the street from this building.

In 1952 there was a significant fire that was captured in this Archives image. We’re guessing that the extensive rebuild needed after the fire was when the windows were bricked up. It’s surprising that there was anything remaining to rebuild; the Vancouver Sun reported that “Vancouver’s most expensive fire in two years raged out of control for six hours and 31 minutes in the heart of a waterfront industrial area Sunday causing $500,000 damage to a four-storey warehouse and surrounding buildings“.  The paper reported that at its height 375 firemen were fighting the fire, aided by the fireboat poring water onto the building from the harbour. “At one point firemen were forced to chop holes in the brick walls of the storage building to release water which had risen to window-sill depth on the second floor“. The newspaper reported the fire in great detail; “A dense pall of smoke hung over the entire downtown area Sunday. , Loss was mostly household furniture stored in the building. It was covered by insurance. Several hundred people had goods stored in the building.” “Efforts to raise ladders on five aerial trucks were hampered by trolley and electric wires at the scene.”

Although reported as a total loss, the building seen in the 1985 image appears to be the exact same as the original. It was eventually demolished some years after this picture was taken. After the site stood vacant for many years it was redeveloped in 2018 with a new storage warehouse, this one designed by Christopher Boyzic.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-0877 and CVA 447-171

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Posted January 17, 2019 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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