Archive for April 2019

Nelson Street – 700 block, south side

While the foreground has changed since this 1981 image was taken, the building further east are unchanged. On the corner of Granville and Nelson is a hotel, just rebranded from a Comfort Inn after extensive renovations. It started life at the Hotel Barron, designed by Parr and Fee for W H Forrest, and completed in 1912. We think Mr. Forrest was agent for the actual owner, Colonel Oscar G. Barron. In it’s new grey and pink paint job it will revert to another earlier name, the Hotel Belmont. Next door the shorter hotel is the Glenaird Hotel, built in 1910 by, and for, contractor Malcolm Griffith, and also designed by Parr and Fee.

On the right of the picture today is Fortune House which had a ‘Now Selling’ sign when the photo was taken, and only finally completed in 1988, seven years later. It was office space from the second to the 10th floors, with the top two floors as residential, but only eight years later the office floors were converted to condos. It hides the view of the back of the Royal Hotel, another Parr and Fee design for Dr. Robert Boyle and Lewercke, and completed in 1911.

In between Granville and Fortune House, on the corner of Granville and Nelson, are a row of single storey retail buildings. There was a store built on the corner here in 1901, designed by ‘Fripp’ (architect R Mackay Fripp) for Mrs. D Gibbons. In 1920 Honeyman & Curtis were hired by F T Andrews to design retail units on the back of three lots, designed to face Nelson Street. We assume Mr. Fripp’s earlier store on Granville was incorporated into the project. Today you can buy pizza from the corner unit, and the three on Nelson offer the choice of poutine, tacos or a drink in The Moose bar. Here they are as they appeared in 1981.

Mrs. Gibbons, who developed the corner, doesn’t show up in the 1901 census – or at least, not as Mrs. D Gibbons. However, Catherine Gibbons, a widow, was head of a household of five children: two daughters (one a domestic, and one a milliner) and three sons, one a clerk and two still in school. Going back to the 1891 census shows Catherine was married to David Gibbons; he was from Ireland, and she was an American, and there were three other older sons who had left home by 1901. The family had arrived in Canada in 1890, and all the children had been born in the USA. In 1901 they were living at 640 Harris Street (today’s East Georgia Street). David Gibbons was a contractor, and he started impressively by getting a contract to grade and plank a Downtown sidewalk in April 1890 – as soon as he arrived in Vancouver. He died in 1897 or early 1898, and Catherine stayed in the brick-built family home until 1912. It was built in 1894 by Irish-born bricklayer and contractor John Henry Freney, a relative of Mr. Gibbons.

Mr. Andrews, who built the Nelson stores twenty years later has proved more elusive – at least as far as census records are concerned. He had built a garage a couple of years before this building, further south on Granville, and in 1907 had been involved in a complicated land sale court case in connection with a Hastings Street lot that he sold to Angelo Calori, the owner of the Hotel Europe. (Mr Calori almost lost the hotel to Mr. Andrews, but the courts sided with Mr. Calori). He also developed another Granville Street property in 1913. The difficulty in tracking him down may possibly be because he seems to have spent quite a bit of his time out of the city. The land deal with Angelo Calori was all arranged initially by cable, while Mr. Andrews was ‘residing temporarily in Engalnd’, and the deeds for the property were in Toronto.

Frederick T Andrews was district manager for the Dominion Permanent Loan Co, based in Ottawa, in 1898. In 1908 he was inspector for the same company, based in Vancouver, but had spent the previous year in England. In 1912 the Province reported ‘Mr F. T. Andrews of this city has returned from a visit to England extending over eighteen months. On the return trip Mrs. Andrews remained over in St. Thomas., Ont., to visit relatives.” In 1913 he added a substantial three storey addition to the Palms Hotel on Granville, that he had also acquired, and he was living there in 1917 when we think he may have built another garage on Granville Street. In 1915 the Canadian Northern Railway bought one of his properties in conjunction with their arrival into the city. That was after another legal fight over the acquisition of the False Creek land by the railway company – who weren’t keen on compensating former owners in a particularly timely manner.

We think F T Andrews had family members in the city: Frank M Andrews, a salesman, also lived at the hotel in 1917, as well as J Andrews, a clerk. In 1921 Francis Andrews lived with his wife and baby on Commercial Drive, and was shown as having arrived in Canada in 1911. John M Andrews was living with his uncle, Frank T Andrews, and had also arrived in 1911 – so they would have been missed by the 1911 census. It would seem that F T Andrews wasn’t living in Vancouver in 1921.

Surprisingly, the single storey retail stores still stand today, although renewal and densification are starting to change this part of Granville Street.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W03.05 and CVA 779-W03.04

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Posted April 29, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Pacific Palisades – Alberni Street

The major redevelopment of this block took place in 1969. Bing Marr Architects designed two residential rental towers (off the picture, to the right), and this office building that had an entrance on Bute Street. (We’re looking along Bute Street from Alberni). The North American Life Assurance Co were the developer, and the two 23 storey residential towers were a significant change in scale from earlier residential buildings – houses in this stretch of Robson and Alberni.

The office building lasted a relatively short time. It was still standing in this 1981 image, with the 1967 Blue Horizon Hotel that’s on the same block showing behind. By 1996 it had been replaced with James Cheng’s circular 32 storey condo buildings. The two original rental residential towers were converted in 1984 to the Pacific Palisades Hotel, only to be converted once again in 2009 back to rental apartments.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W10.10

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Posted April 25, 2019 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Richards Street – 1300 block, east side

Today there are two newly completed residential towers on this block in Downtown South. There are now very few remaining commercial and warehouse buildings in an area that was once dominated by modest industrial premises. At the far end of the street there was a storage warehouse, which we think dated from the mid 1920s. Johnston Storage were first in the building in 1926, and remained there for decades. Later the building was used as mini-storage before being redeveloped in 2016 as a rental podium and condo tower.

The building closest to us, on the corner of Drake Street, almost certainly dates back to the mid 1910s. A broker, Cecil Merritt, hired H L Stevens and Co to design and build a $35,000 Factory/Warehouse in 1913. It was vacant in 1914, but in 1915 MacLarens Laurentia Milk Co occupied the corner. Their dairy operated in Abbotsford, but they supplied the entire Lower Mainland. By 1918 the building was occupied by the Lake of The Woods Milling Co. They were an eastern brand, selling the Five Roses brand of flour, and they continued to occupy the building for decades. In the 1950s they were swallowed by another milling company, the Ogilvie Flour Mills Co, who sold their Vancouver warehouse in 1972, and the building was re[purposed as office space.

Next door, the single storey building was the location of the J Fyfe Smith Company, dealers in hardwoods and carriage building supplies. They appeared at this location in 1911, with a yard and lumber store, and were still running a wholesale lumber business here in 1955 when the single storey building was constructed. J Fyfe Smith came from Australia where he had learned the timber trade. In 1904 he bought the hardwood lumber business of A P May & Company, established around 1900; before that hardwood for Vancouver and Victoria, had been supplied principally from San Francisco. Last year Wall Financial completed a 43 storey residential tower, initially to be a condo tower but now offered as rental units.

Inage source: City of Vancouver Archivers CVA 779-E07.36

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Posted April 22, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1145 West Georgia Street

In 1931 this was the city’s shiny new Art Gallery. Designed by Sharp and Thompson in a fashionable art deco style, it was squeezed onto a 66 foot wide lot donated by the City of Vancouver, and cost $40,000 to construct. There were apparently just seven Canadian paintings on show; most of the collection was by British artists.

At the time it was built, this was a quiet residential street, as this VPL image from the same year shows. This site had originally been developed with a pair of semi-detached houses before 1900. Emily Carr was still painting at the time, and there were none of her paintings in the collection. In 1938 the gallery was occupied by unemployed men protesting government policy, but no paintings were damaged. A major expansion and remodeling was built in 1951, and the Art Gallery moved to it’s current home in the converted court house in 1983. The site was redeveloped in 1992 with an office tower designed by Webb, Zerafa, Menkes, Housden and Partners for Manulife (who developed the building as the headquarters of BC Gas, known today as Terasen). More recently it was acquired by the developers of the adjacent Trump Tower, and there are now refurbished retail units along the street.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4062

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Posted April 18, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Homer Street – 700 block, east side

We saw the front of the row of houses on the right of the picture in a post we published last year. They were built around 1901, possibly by contractor William Campbell, from Ontario, and from this angle we can see the back of the houses. There’s a vacant lot that served as an access behind the houses, and then a back-to-back tenement building – one of very few built Downtown, although there were more built in other residential neighbourhoods. There was another row, parallel to the one we can see in the picture, immediately abutting it to the north (just off the picture). This row was built between 1907 and 1908, but we don’t know who lived here because the street directory just identified the building as ‘cabins’.

In 1911 Mrs Bertha Allen was shown here; probably running the building as rental cabins, and a year later, Thomas Mott. He was a labourer, aged 36, who had arrived from England in 1903, and his wife Emma, and their two sons a year later. One son, Albert, aged 12, was shown as being a carpenter. This might be an error, as while it’s just possible he was an apprentice, school attendance was compulsory up to age 14.

In 1921 C Mayne carried out repairs here, and was shown as owner, but again the listing was just as ‘cabins’, although Charles Mayne, a contractor was shown living at this address. (He appears to have just arrived in the city, and so wasn’t included in the census that year). A few other residents were shown having the street address; Mrs. Elizabeth Reading, who worked at Paraffine Co, (a waste paper company) and Reginald and Cecil Blunden, whose occupations were not listed. The cabins can be seen here in this 1928 image, and were still in operation in 1955 when they were owned by Mrs. K O Marchanton, and had eight tenants. By 1981 the site had been cleared, and stayed as a parking lot until the construction of  Moshe Safdie’s design for the Central Branch of the public library was completed in 1995.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N327

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Posted April 15, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Nelson Street – 600 block, south side

This 1981 image shows that not everything has changed Downtown – yet. If heritage status could be conferred on surface parking lots, this one might qualify, as it has been a vacant site for at least 40 years, with no sign yet of a development proposal.

We’ve seen the buildings that were on the site before it was cleared in an earlier post. There were houses here until at least the mid 1950s. Across the lane (fronting Granville Street) is a 1912 hotel, built as the Hotel Barron for  an absentee American owner, O G Barron. Parr and Fee designed the hotel, as well as the Glenaird Rooms to the south. For many years the hotel was known as the Belmont, then the Nelson Place Hotel, and more recently has been a Comfort Inn. The bars and cellar bar have been reinvented many times, including in their last iteration as Doolin’s Irish Pub and the Belmont Bar.

Currently the hotel is getting a comprehensive make-over under new owners, reopening as a boutique hotel that will once again bear the Hotel Belmont name, with the Living Room restaurant and Basement Bar.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E03.08A

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Posted April 11, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Robson Street – 400 block, north side (2)

These houses were on the north side of the 400 block of Robson to the west of Homer Street. From the picture, it appears that the three closest to the lane were all constructed by one builder, while a small house and the store on the corner of Homer had a different date of development. The houses occupied three lots, so were 75 feet from front to back, as the houses were built at right angles to the legal plots.

Our observation proved accurate, as in 1903 Mrs Hineman (sic) hired C F Mills to build three houses here at a cost of $3,000. A year later Mr Hyndman hired Mills and Williamson to build a dwelling house and store at 401 Robson at a cost of $4,500. We’ve come across Thomas Hyndman, and his wife Alice, in connection with a hotel on Richards Street developed by T B Hyndman a few years after these houses were built. They were still standing in this 1948 image by Otto Landauer, for Leonard Frank Photos.

Thomas seems to have first arrived in Vancouver around 1900, when he was working for R G Buchanan Co who sold crockery on Westminster Avenue. He was recorded in the 1901 census as a merchant, and in 1904, when he was also active in real estate development, he was vice-president of Woodwards Stores. In 1908 Thomas was in real estate, and he and Anna lived at 1075 Burnaby Street (an address Anna was shown living at in 1899 when she acquired 320 acres of CPR land with Henry Hyndman at $3.00 an acre). In the 1911 census Thomas was aged 61 and shown as retired and living at 1220 Barclay Street with Anna, and their 29 year old son, John. A 64 year old English gardener, Richard Buckle, and  a Swedish servant, Hilda Friedstrum completed the household. Both parents were born in Ontario and John was born in Manitoba. In 1921 he was living with his daughter, Esther, who was remarried to Stephen DeBou, having previously been married to Richard G Buchanan (her father’s early employer) before his untimely death in 1913.

Charles F Mills, who constructed all the buildings, lived on Davie Street. He arrived in Vancouver in 1888, and was married in 1890. He appears to have lived and worked at Hastings Mill for a few years, but by 1894 was living in Fairview and had established his business as builder and contractor. His wife was Sarah Jane, and in the 1901 census he was listed under his middle name, Francis. In that census they had three daughters and a newborn son, also called Charles, and the street directory shows they had moved to the West End, on Pendrell. By 1911 they had moved to West Point Grey, with five daughters and two sons at home aged between 3 and 16, his wife Jane and his sister, Margaret. Charles died in 1919, and Sarah moved back to Pacific and Thurlow. She died in 1947, in St Paul’s Hospital. The Province reported, “She was born in Antigonish, N.S., and came to Vancouver to marry Charles F. Mills. They were married in the little old wooden building of the Holy Rosary where the Cathedral now stands. Mrs. Mills was a charter member of the Vancouver Pioneers Association and served on the executive of the Catholic Childrens’ Aid Society and the Catholic Womens’ League. She was a past-president of the Canadian Social Service Club, and made regular visits to veterans at Shaughnessy Hospital. Surviving are three daughters in Vancouver, one in Toronto and one in Hollywood and two sons.”

As rental houses, there was a constant turnover of tenants in the homes. On the far right is the Homer Cash Grocery; then in the four houses; David M Crawford, a porter with Honey Dew foods, and his wife Jean, Mrs Mary Parker, a widow, Elmer Parker, a logger, and his wife Cecile and Miss Margaret I Beierle, who advertised that she had a room available. By 1981 the site had been cleared for surface parking, as we saw in a recent post. Today there’s a strata Westin hotel, where the rooms are owned by different owners as investments, designed by Lawrence Doyle Architects and completed in 1999.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives Str P263

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Posted April 8, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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