Stuart Building – Chilco and West Georgia Street

The Stuart Building, seen here in 1973, was a retail and apartment block that was completed in 1910. It was designed by Henry B Watson for lumberman W W Stuart, and sat near the entrance to Stanley Park. There were buildings on the north side of the street in those days, so some views of Burrard Inlet were interrupted, but the building ran along Chilco, with clear views of the park.

Whitfield Walker Stuart was born in New Brunswick, but started making money in Massachusetts. He was living in Boston in 1886, in his mid 20s, working as a carpenter. He married a local woman that year, and they had two children before he moved west around 1891, initially to New Westminster and then to Dewdney, where Mr. Stuart worked as a farmer, and they had a third child. He first showed up in Vancouver in 1898, living on Barnard (now Union) and having returned to working as a carpenter. He moved around the same area, to Keefer, and then Heatley, before moving to the West End. In 1904 he spent a remarkably low $300 building a store and house at this location.

Only four years later he moved to Robson Street, and the house and store were demolished, and the building in the picture was erected at a stated cost of $13,000. No doubt this reflects a much lower value than if Mr. Stuart hadn’t been a contractor with his own supply of lumber. By 1907 his electric powered mill was in operation on Front Street (now 1st Avenue, in Mount Pleasant). In 1908 it was reported that “The W. W. Stuart Lumber Company of Vancouver report that they have been running steadily at full capacity all winter, their output being used chiefly for local trade. They have recently put up a new moulding shed and office buildings”. His wife died in 1916, and two years later he remarried, to an Australian, and they had two children (the first born in Australia in the same year that they were married). They moved to Kerrisdale, and Whitfield Stuart died in 1927, and was buried with his first wife in Mountain View cemetery.

The Stuart building became home to an early bicycle hire business, and later an art gallery, but by 1982 there were plans to demolish it. The Vancouver Sun reported “The Stuart Building, a three-storey apartment block with a turret lookout on top, a stained glass panel over the front door and a seven-foot-wide staircase, was built in 1909 for lumberman W.W. Stuart. At the time, it overlooked a Lost Lagoon that was still tidewater. The first park causeway was built 14 years later. Edith Clark has operated the Gallery of B.C. Arts on the ground floor of the Stuart Building for the past 20 years. On Tuesday, they’re pulling down the building that has stood as a landmark at the entrance to Stanley Park since 1909. She is furious. But she is still praying that a miracle will save the building she and her husband, Herbert, have grown to love. Clark is one of 2,500 West End residents who want to preserve the turret-ted frame building at 674 Chilco at Georgia Street. Seven city aldermen voted Tuesday to tear it down.

Clark is furious that seven council members could cancel out the wishes of thousands of people who cherish the landmark across from Lost Lagoon. She still has not given up hope of saving it from the wrecker’s ball. “I can’t abandon hope for this building. I have about 2,500 signatures on a petition to save it,” Clark said Friday as she and Herbert loaded the last of the gallery’s paintings and pottery into a moving van. “We love this building. We’ve had 20 years here with many good times. Mayor Mike Harcourt was good to consider trying to save it and for a while it looked so hopeful,” she said. Clark said she cannot understand why, when building owner Stanley Ho of Hong Kong agreed to cooperate in preserving the building, seven council members can order it destroyed. “Maybe we can hold them off a little longer, stall until the next election and get a few of those aldermen off city council.” Upstairs in suite three, pensioner Rita Pinder prepared to move from the three- bedroom unit she rented for $220 a month into a tiny West End suite that will cost $380 a month. “It’s hard to decide what to give up. This place has been so spacious and so gracious,” said Pinder who lived for 13 years in one of the eight apartments.”

The building that replaced the Stuart is a strange one. For many years standing alone, it was developed by Hong Kong based billionaire and Macau gambling mogul Stanley Ho, who acquired the lot in 1974 for $275,000. He owned property throughout the city, including the Sutton Place Hotel, and according to a Vancouver Sun article Ho offered to upgrade the building and give the city a 30-year lease in exchange for zoning incentives on another property, but a majority on Council instead approved redevelopment. There are now three huge apartments and a wedding chapel in the 5 storey replacement building, designed by Ernest Collins, and completed in 1995.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives  CVA 447-85

0888

Advertisements

Posted July 22, 2019 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

Tagged with ,

%d bloggers like this: