Archive for August 2019

West Hastings Street – 100 block, south side (2)

We saw the buildings to the east of this part of the 100 block of West Hastings in an earlier post. We’ve also looked at most of these buildings in greater detail over the years. The tallest building in the group is the Stock Exchange Building, an 8 storey steel-framed building on a 25 foot wide lot, costing $75,000 to build and designed by J S Helyer and Son in 1909. The two storey building to the east (on the left) is The Province Building, which we revisted in a second post. It started life in 1898 as the offices of the Province Newspaper, Walter Nichol’s Victoria newspaper that moved into Vancouver. It was given a new lease of life in the 1920s as a retail store known as ‘The Arcade’, and today’s façade is Townley and Matheson redesign for that purpose. Both the Stock Exchange, which today is non-market housing, and the Province building have been given a recent make-over, with furniture store Structube moving into the retail space. Our 1981 image below shows that it was a furniture store in a previous incarnation. In 1940 (above) there was Singer sewing machine dealer, and the office building had become The Ray Building.

The black and white almost matching three storey buildings to the west are 152 and 156 W Hastings. The westernmost is older, built in 1901 for Jonathan Rogers, and costing $10,000. It was designed by Parr and Fee. 152 West Hastings, next door, was built in 1904 and designed by William Blackmore and Son. It cost $8,000 and the developer was E Rogers – Elizabeth, Jonathan Rogers’ wife, who had married Jonathan in 1902. Long the home of the Trocadero Grill, today it has office space over retail.

The one building we haven’t researched is 150 West Hastings, and we don’t know who designed or developed the building. It’s the 3 storey building between the Stock Exchange and Rogers buildings. It’s been cleaned up – in 1979 the brickwork had been painted over and the store was ‘Save-On Surplus’. It was repaired in 1920 by Cope and Sons, who hired Gardiner and Mercer and spent $2,000 on fixing it up, and the same owners carried out more repairs in 1916. In 1911 the Vancouver Electric Company added an electric frame sign, but we don’t know who that was for. In 1903, when it was supposedly built, T Grey, a tailor had a store here, as well as Ernest Easthope (senior), who repaired bicycles. (His son, also called Ernest, was a teamster). Today there’s a yoga studio, with offices upstairs.

Image sources City of Vancouver Archives CVA 586-2574 and CVA 779-E16.21

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Police Station – East Cordova Street (2)

If the 1913 police station on East Cordova was relatively short-lived (from being built in 1913 to demolition in 1956), its predecessor fared even worse. It was built in 1903, and was on the same spot that the 1913 building was constructed. As far as we know there was nothing actually wrong with the earlier building (seen here in 1910), but the city grew dramatically in the early 1900s and a larger building was needed very quickly.

It was designed by Dalton & Eveleigh and had cost a not insubstantial $38,000. It included the Police Court and jail, and was on the same block as the fire hall. It wasn’t a foregone conclusion that it would be demolished once the decision was made to build a new facility; initially some on the City Council favoured using a Powell Street site that the City had finally obtained title to, after a long court battle. It was where the first City hall had been built, immediately after the fire. After some debate it was decided the existing location was a better choice. We’re not sure what the part of the building to the west side was – perhaps the coroner’s laboratory, but the design is surprisingly similar to the 1978 Kiss and Harrison police station that sits on the site today.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-2129

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Posted August 26, 2019 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Police Station – East Cordova Street (1)

This 1956 image shows Firehall #1 on the left, (still standing today as the Firehall Theatre). Dating back to 1905, it was designed by W T Whiteway. Next door was the Coroner’s Court, which today houses the Police Museum. Designed by A J Bird, it was converted to the museum in the early 1980s, but was built in 1932.

Next door today is the concrete East Wing of the police station (hidden by trees in the summer), built in 1978 and designed by Harrison Kiss Associates. In this 1956 image an earlier (and taller) police station stood on the same spot. Built in 1913, The East End police headquarters cost $250,000, was built of ‘concrete and stone’ and designed by Doctor, Stewart & Davie. Initially it was shown as costing $175,000 in 1912 (and on Powell Street, which was an earlier intended location). An extra $70,000 was approved in 1913. The Beaux Arts style building had a cream terracota and stone façade over the concrete frame.

Surprisingly, for such a substantial investment, the building didn’t last very long. In 1956 Ernie Reksten photographed the building being demolished. Earlier that year the Vancouver Sun had reported the intention of clearing the site “to call tenders for demolition of the historic building on Cordova near Main. A survey of the old building, built in 1914 and located behind the new station on Main, shows It is good only for light storage purposes. Aldermen decided not to put the building up for sale as the land it occupies is urgently needed for the parking lot and possible expansion of police facilities. The heating plant has been removed. The elevators are cranky antiques and all electrical services require replacement. “It would cost a tremendous amount to put the old pile back into any reasonable shape,” said Alderman George Miller, properties committee chairman.”

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-63 and CVA 2010-006.170 (flipped)

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Posted August 22, 2019 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Melville Street – 1100 block

On the right is another modest office building occupying a corner site Downtown. This one dates from 1959, and it’s known as the Wyland Building. We’ve drawn a blank on the architect; it wasn’t an especially complicated building when it was first built (with simple international style glazing) and bears a close resemblance to a number of similar offices developed by Dominion Construction, so they could have designed it in-house, as they did for several other buildings in that era, but we haven’t found any evidence to support that theory. It had a makeover in the 1990s to replace the glass, and spandrel panels in matching reflective glazing.

At the other end of the block was a brand new building in our 1981 image. Sun Life Plaza had just been completed; and it’s still standing today but almost hidden by the two buildings added in 1997 and 2000. We don’t know the designer, although the landscaped plaza was designed by landscape architect Don Vaughan. The two later buildings are Orca Place, a condo building, and 1138 Melville next door is an 18 storey office building. They were designed by the same architects; Orca Place by Waisman Dewar Grout Carter, and the office building by Architectura, the company’s new name in the late 1990s. In 1981 there was a pair of smaller office buildings; the smaller building was designed by Thompson, Berwick Pratt in 1952 for advertising agency Cockfield Brown & Co. The building beyond it was developed after 1955, and was demolished with the site used as a parking lot by 1990.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W14.09

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Posted August 19, 2019 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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Thurlow and Melville Street – north side

This is another early 1980s image showing a part of Downtown where relatively little change has taken place in nearly 40 years. The image is from after 1979, and we’re standing at the corner of Melville looking north on Thurlow. On the left is a 1975 office building of 11 floors designed by Waisman Architectural Group. Beyond it is a 1965 eight storey office called the Philips Building. Across the lane is an orange brick clad building known by its address, 1112 West Pender, completed in 1960; it was designed by McCarter, Nairne & Partners. The office at the end of the block was developed by R C Baxter in 1966, and is another Waisman Architectural Group design.

All four are still standing today, although they represent the more modest density buildings that are now being redeveloped as larger, more energy efficient towers. There are two buildings visible today on the west side of the street that weren’t around in the 1980s. In front of the Baxter building is the white tower of the Delta Pinnacle hotel, built in 2000, while beyond it there’s now a green-clad condo tower designed by IBI/HB and completed in 2012 called Three Harbour Green.

The dark glazing closest to us on the right is Four Bentall Centre, the tallest in the Bentall cluster at 35 floors and completed in 1981, designed by Frank W Musson and Associates. Beyond it is 1090 West Pender. It’s a 1971 twelve storey office building designed by Gerald Hamilton for Dawson Developments, and with the parkade alongside it’s in the process of being demolished. It will be replaced by a 31 storey office tower with an underground parkade. Beyond it is Manulife Place, a 22-storey office completed in 1991.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-1403

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Bute and West Pender Street – westwards

The building on the left, seen in this 1981 image, was called the Pender Building, and it was developed in 1947 as a six storey office building. When it was first built it was known as the Graphic Arts Building and it was designed by John Harvey. The building was also home to the printing presses of the Sun Newspaper, whose offices were on Beatty Street at the time.

It was replaced in the early 2000s with a 33 storey condo building, with a retail podium, called The Ritz. Before the Pender Building was built there were five houses here, developed in the early 1900s. By the 1940s the Pioneer Foundry was located here, before the office building was constructed.

The development of the tower shows the way Downtown was headed before the planners put the brakes on adding new residential buildings in the Central Business District. The success at getting more people living downtown led to an interest in developing residential buildings that in turn increased land values. That then made it difficult for developers of commercial property to compete for older buildings to redevelop. There was a serious possibility of running out of employment space in the longer term, as well as an added problem of new residents having unreasonable expectations of limited office development and economic activity close to their homes. As a result the planners instituted an extensive study, the Metro Core Jobs and Economy Study, which led to restrictions on future residential use in much of the CBD. Residential development continues outside the office core – the population Downtown is now greater than in the West End. Within the CBD, a recent surge in demand now has more new office space under construction than at any time in the city’s history.

On the right is the edge of the Evergreen Building, (today a Heritage ‘A’ office) designed by Arthur Erickson and completed in 1980. There’s a new small condo building being built in the space next to it, but in the 2000s there was an approved proposal to convert the office space to residential use. Fortunately a new developer was willing to step in, renovate the building (and designate it as a Heritage Building, so its status will remain as commercial) and obtain a bonus to transfer space elsewhere Downtown. In the background is ‘Qube’ – the former 1969 Westcoast Energy Building that was converted in 2006 to residential use, with a new glazed screen to match the original (but now with opening windows, as required by residential code).

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-312

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Posted August 12, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Beatty Street – 700 block

Two of the warehouse buildings seen in this 1981 image are still standing, and one has disappeared. At the far end is a 1914 building, designed by Dalton and Eveleigh for F T Cope. George Snider & Brethour built it at a cost of $75,000. In the middle is a building costing $140,000 for the National Drug Co, and also built by George Snider & Brethour a year earlier, designed by H S Griffith. Thomas Hooper was hired to make $1,500 of alterations in 1914. With replacement windows it looks much more recent, and since our 1981 image was taken it’s had a blue tile makeover.

The third warehouse was the most expensive. In 1912 a permit was issued for a building to cost $150,000. Designed by Parr, McKenzie & Day for John W Gibb it was to be occupied by The Canadian Fairbanks Company.

Cope & Sons were electrical suppliers. Frederick T Cope was company president, an Englishman (from Oxford) who emigrated to Manitoba at 19, and arrived in Vancouver in 1895 when he was 35, and established the business two years later. In 1914, when they built the new warehouse, Frank R Cope was company treasurer and Bert F Cope company secretary. In 1911 both were still at home with Fred and Marjory, their mother, who was born in Ontario, but had their own homes three years later.

The National Drug and Chemical Company of Canada started in business in 1905, initially in Montreal, then rapidly across the country through expansion and buying out other businesses. David Bole was already a successful drugstore operator from Manitoba, and established the national wholesaling and manufacturing business with six million dollars of capital. State-of-the-art factories were established for both pharmaceuticals (in Montreal) and by 1908 125 items, including cough syrup, skin cream, shampoo, and toothpaste were manufactured in Toronto. The Vancouver distribution centre was opened soon after Calgary and Regina. In 1920 National Drug reorganized its administrative structure, as business had increased by 250 per cent in the previous 10 years. The business still operated here in the 1950s, and is still in business today as Canada’s leading drug wholesaler (now part of US business McKesson).

The Canadian Fairbanks Company was created in 1905 by Henry Fuller, who bought out the Canadian interests of the US parent company, at the time the largest machinery and mill supply company in Canada. They immediately occupied a new warehouse on Water Street developed by McLennan & McFeely. They had a warehouse and machine shop in the building. Within ten years they were looking for larger premises, and moved into the Beatty Street warehouse.

The developer, John Gibb, was a broker with an office in the Rogers Building and a home in the West End. His father, David Gibb, was a retired contractor with an excellent reputation. A 1915 court case shows his son’s business scruples weren’t quite as pure. It referred back to the 1912 deal with Canadian Fairbanks to occupy the building, with lease payments of $242,000 over 10 years, (starting at $22,000 for each of the first 3 years).  The building had to be ready for 1 August 1913, and if delayed no rent was due. Walter Meuller was hired to build the warehouse for $106,000. It became clear in May 1913 that Mr. Gibb was suffering “financial embarrassment” (to quote the judge), and it also transpired that he did not own the land outright, as he had claimed, but rather held an equity stake. That meant banks wouldn’t advance him a loan to complete the building. Mr. Gibb actually needed over $200,000 to complete the building and obtain tiitle – he had a deal with Harvey Haddon to advance $106,000 on completion, but that wasn’t going to solve his problem. He was willing to sit back and seemed to think that, as the agreed rent was a bargain, he might get out of his predicament. Fairbanks weren’t willing to wait, and paid the contractors to finish the job, in October.

This was highly unusual, and as the judge noted “Failure of Gibb to satisfactorily carry on construction or to complete within the time specified did not entitle the plaintiff to enter on the premises and proceed with the work.” Trustees were appointed immediately after the 1 August date was passed, and the interest in the property was transferred to David Gibb, John’s father. A Fairbanks manager was initially a trustee, but his head office forced him to withdraw, and launched the case to try to obtain a significant sum that they had paid to complete the building. The judge didn’t agree, but imposed the $20 per day pre-agreed fine for missing the August 1st deadline, and another $800 because the building didn’t use equipment sold by Fairbanks in its construction, as the lease agreement stipulated. Fairbanks also received their costs.

Despite this rocky start, Canadian Fairbanks were still occupying the building in the 1950s. It was cleared to become the plaza in front of the BC Place stadium, constructed in the early 1980s, allowing new windows in the side of the National Drug Co building. The Terry Fox memorial, designed by Douglas Coupland, is located here. The other warehouses have been converted to office use; one is home to a private school.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E18.04

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