Archive for September 2019

West Pender Street east from Bute

This image was taken around 1910, and is titled “View of Pender Street looking west, showing Elysium Hotel and Hoffmeister Bros. garage” Actually it’s looking east – because the Elysium Hotel was on the south side of Pender. We looked at the history of the hotel in a recent post. It was designed in 1909 by Sholto Smith, with the developer described as ‘C C Smith’ in the permit – although we haven’t found anyone with those initials in the city at the time.

On the left is another 1909 development, but this one more modest. Fred Hoffmeister developed the $5,000 repair garage here, designing the building himself. (His brother Henry also designed and developed repair garages, and the Hoffmeister family had extensive real estate holdings, both as investments, and associated with their engineering and car repair businesses). Although other Hoffmeister family members were in the city in subsequent years, Fred appears to have moved on. The garage flourished, with the Hoffmeisters (whose office was in the prestigious Winch Building) selling a range of both electric and gasoline powered brands.

Here’s a 1911 image from the Vancouver Sun showing both the electric powered Waverley and The Marmon and Thomas Flyer gasoline vehicles. The Waverley was produced from 1908 to 1914 in Indianapolis although it had been built for a few years before that as the Pope-Waverley. It used Edison batteries, and the models shown here could seat two. The cars were popular with lady drivers, as they didn’t require hand cranking to start them. The Marmon was produced from 1902 through to 1933, and was also built in Indianapolis. The first Indy 500 was run in 1911, and a Marmon won. The company introduced a variety of new features, including the first rear view mirror. The Thomas Flyer was a big car, seating seven, built in Buffalo, New York. The company existed from 1902 to 1919. A 1907 Model 35 with 4 cylinders and 60 horsepower won the 1908 New York to Paris Race, the first and only around-the-world automobile race ever held. (The car is on show in Reno, Nevada these days).

After the war the building was used by the Soldiers Civil Retraining establishment. Canada was one of the first Allied countries to implement a system of retraining for its wounded soldiers, and by 1920, when they were using the premises, 26,000 wounded ex-servicemen were being retrained.

On the right in the foregroound is a house designed by Crowe and Wilson for Mrs Lipsett, who apparently built it herself, if the permit is to believed. It cost $3,200, which was a substantial sum. her husband, Edward, was originally from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and became an important manufacturer in Vancouver, making sails on Water Street. He added to his business over the years, by 1914 working from a larger building and described as manufacturers of canvas goods – sails, tents, tarpaulins, aprons, coats and overalls.

On the right today are a row of office buildings. Closest to us is 1166 West Pender, built in 1974, designed by Paine and Associates, and already proposed to be demolished and redeveloped with a building over twice as tall. Next door is a 1985 office designed by Hamilton Doyle in 1984, and there are two red brick clad buildings from 1980 and 1960 beyond that.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives SGN 1577

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Posted September 30, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Howe Street – 500 block, west side (2)

We’re looking north on Howe from Dunsmuir in 1936. On the left is the Angelus Confectionery store, in a building dating back to at least 1889. We looked at its history in an earlier post. The corner on the left today has a 1976 fourteen storey office tower, but an earlier proposal (in 1971) would have seen a nine storey parkade, with a basement restaurant/cabaret. That project was rejected – the architect who proposed the building was Frank Musson and Associates, so it’s quite likely that they also designed the office tower that was subsequently approved, known as The Good Earth Building. While it’s a candiadate for redevelopment one day as a bigger office building, it underwent a 2006 retrofit of heating, cooling and lighting systems that saw a 32% improvement in energy efficiency – at a cost that has already been paid back today.

Down the street on the west side were (and are) a series of low-rise low density buildings which surprisingly have yet to consolidated and redeveloped. Past the Angelus Confectionery premises was an office and store designed by Dalton & Eveleigh and built in 1921 for E Bloomfield by H A Wiles. It replaced two earlier houses. The developer was probably Edgar Bloomfield, a barrister, who lived in Point Grey.

In 1912 J J Grey hired architect A E Cline to design a single storey retail store on the next lot north. John J Gray was a real estate agent who had developed other investment property in the city. Given the amount of change in the Downtown in the past century, he and Mr. Cline would probably both be rather surprised that the store is still standing today.

On the right in the 1936 picture is the Hambro Building built around 1923. Before it was built there was a house here that was the Japanese consulate. Today this is the northern part of the Pacific Centre Mall, completed in 1990 with an 18 storey office tower designed by Zeidler Roberts Partnership. Beyond it is Pender Place, a pair of identical towers designed by Underwood, McKinley, Wilson & Smith and completed in 1973.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str N283.

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Posted September 26, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Howe Street – 500 block, west side (1)

This 1981 image shows a block that really hasn’t changed in nearly 40 years, despite being ‘underbuilt’. On the corner is a 1978 tower designed by Underwood, McKinley, Wilson and Smith. It replaced an earlier building that we looked at in an earlier post (and as it looked a little earlier). The new tower was developed by Grander Developments, the Canadian arm of UK Property developers Hammerson.

Across the lane is a 1935 Art Deco building designed by Gardiner and Mercer. It started life as the Pacific Athletic Club, developed by Jack Pattison, and more recently became the Executive Building. In the 1970s it was home to Maximillians Club and Symphony Hall, but today it’s office space. It’s bigger than it appears on the street, with six floors tiered back from Howe Street.

There are pictures from 1936 of the interior, including this one. There was a badminton court, a very comfortable lounge on the main floor, and 2 squash courts on the top floor. To watch squash you had to climb up a ladder and go along a walkway in order to sit on plank seats behind the courts. The courts were repurposed as a second gymnasium after the war.

The membership numbers boomed after 1947 when it became legal for the club to serve alcohol to members. After prohibition only a limited number of beer parlours were able to sell liquor to the public, and operated under very restrictive rules. Nightclubs (theoretically) couldn’t serve alcohol until the mid 1960s – patrons smuggled their own drinks in and kept them under the table.

Next door is a 1928 building that by 1981 had a contemporary glazed façade replacing the original.

This block of Howe Street became commercial in the 1920s – it started life as a mostly residential street, as this 1913 image shows. Traffic appears to have been busier than it is today, but the caption explains that it was the Rotary Club leaving the Compressed Gas Company’s offices for the Royal Nurseries on August 12th.

In 1981 there was (and still is) a relatively tall, narrow office building from 1966 at 549 Howe, which replaced a store developed by motor engineer Harry Hoffmeister in 1913. There’s a 1923 two storey retail store next door at 551 and a three storey building from 1929 to the south at 555, and a single storey 1933 building next to that.

The next single storey retail building is the oldest on the block, from 1912, developed by real estate agent J J Grey and originally designed by A E Cline, costing $6,000 to build.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W04.30 CVA 99-4465 and CVA Bu P535

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Posted September 23, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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West Georgia Street – 1100 block, north side (2)

This large slab office, seen here in 1981, has been recently replaced by the Trump Tower. It started life as the Shell Oil building, completed in 1957. It was built by Dominion Construction, who designed it in-house. Although there was an architect employed by the company, engineer John McLaren was credited with the design, although it should have had an accredited architect to sign off. It was initially headquarters for Shell’s Western Division. Initially established in Canada in Montreal, Shell, like other North American oil companies established a new office in Vancouver, then moved operations to Alberta some years later as oil exploration and exploitation shifted the centre of Canadian activity. (The company headquarters moved there from Toronto in 1984). The office uses continued, with the building apparently renamed as the Weststar Building, (although that could be an error, as the Westar Building was next door).

Plans were approved to reuse the abandoned building. In 1994 it was proposed for reuse as the Newport City Club – but that project failed part way through redevelopment. The Vancouver Sun reported the project: “Six floors of the Weststar Building on 1188 West Georgia are being converted into the Newport City Club that will house three restaurants, a health club, meeting and reading rooms. Final approvals have been received for construction in north Squamish of the companion Newport Ridge Golf and Country Club, a 5,800-yard executive-type course, 900 residences (single units and townhouses) and a 100,000 square foot clubhouse. “Due to geographic limitations there’s only 90 acres for golf we’re developing a course with 7 par-threes and 11 par-fours,” says Newport vice-president Peter Heenan, a Vancouver businessman.” The project was developed by Andrew Leung, who had previously developed resorts and golf courses in the Dominican Republic, and the financial backing was supposedly coming from three Hong Kong businesspeople.

By 1996, the 1957 structure had been stripped of its exterior walls and interior finishes, but within a year the project was in financial trouble, and soon in receivership with a number of court actions and builders liens.  A new proposal was submitted to replace it with a 27 storey office tower to be called Golden Ocean Plaza, but the project never proceeded. The site would sit as a vacant and derelict frame for many years. It was later owned by Cadillac Fairview, and in 2003 they sold it to the Holborn Group, who had already acquired the adjacent Terasen Building. The Trump Tower (with no financial involvement by the Trump organization; just a management and branding role), took several years to develop. Initial designs were rejected, until the Arthur Erickson inspired ‘twisting’ tower was approved, with an initial sales launch as the Residences at Ritz-Carlton, but the market for luxury residential towers in 2008 was depressed, and the deal fell through, to be relaunched four years later under the Trump brand, finally opening in 2016.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W14.13.

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Posted September 19, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Georgia and Broughton Street

This view westwards was taken by Ernie Reksten in 1965, mid-block in the 1400 block, looking at the buildings on the south side of West Georgia. On the far side of Broughton is the Georgian Towers hotel, dating back to 1955. Designed by Sharp, Thompson, Berwick and Pratt, and built by Marwell Construction, it replaced houses that were first developed on the site, overlooking Burrard’s Inlet. The tower started life in 1955 as a rental apartment building before being converted to a hotel in 1958. In the late 1970s it became apartments once again, and the adjacent parking lot closer to us saw a strata tower developed, ‘The George’, completed in 2002. Plans have recently been submitted to replace the seismically challenged 1955 building with a 49 storey tower that will replace the 162 rental units on the lower floors and add an additional 193 strata units.

Closer to us, on the east side of Broughton were the ‘Majestic Apartments’, developed around 1908, and designed by H B Watson. He was hired by contractor and investor J J Dissette. It was a classy building in its earlier days; one of its first tenants was Thomas Spencer, son of retail impresario David Spencer, and manager of the family’s Hastings Street store. A couple of years later Archie Barnes Martin, the managing director of Pacific Mills was in Number 5, and in the mid 1920s Samuel Emanuels, an auctioneer, notary public and for a while the Brazilian vice-consul lived in Number 6.

By the mid 1950s there were still 15 tenants living in the apartments, including Eileen Burden, secretary at Pemberton Insurance, Robert Adamson, an immigration officer, Ronald Woods, a manager with the Hudson’s Bay Company, who shared a suite with Frederick Woods, janitor with radio station CBUT and his wife Kathleen, proprietor of Kay’s Fabrics. John Whelan, a waiter at the Drake Hotel beer parlour was in Number 4, and Marion Watmough, a bookkeeper with BC Equipment at Number 11. There were several other retired and widowed tenants, Constance Lobeck who operated the elevator at the Hotel Vancouver and George Luchuk, director of the Arcade Whist Club.

The entire block was redeveloped in 1999 with a Chinese backed pair of condos, designed by IBI, called ‘The Lions’. On the part of the site where the Majestic stood, the project includes a small commercial component, with recessed retail stores along West Georgia.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 2010-006.022

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1090 Homer Street

This five storey warehouse (six floors on Mainland Street) was built in 1910 by Leek and Co. William and Walter Leek were both steamfitters, operating one of the city’s larger plumbing, heating installation and engineering businesses. When the warehouse was built the company was run by William Leek and Walter jnr, his son. Walter Leek senior was William’s brother, and was also involved in the business. In the 1901 census William and Walter jnr. were both living at 1110 Davie Street, with business premises on Pender. There was also James Leek listed at the same address, a plumber, and John W Leek, also a steamfitter, who had his home at 1429 Georgia. The family had arrived early in the city’s history. They arrived in Canada in 1880 into Ontario, and by 1892 John Leek and his son William were running a plumbing business in Vancouver, and living on Richards Street. In 1893 William accepted the position of plumbing examiner with the City of Vancouver. They were still living on Richards in 1895, when Walter Leek had joined them; there’s a picture of Walter and William in 1894 outside a shack in the middle of the forest (E49th Avenue).

The family were originally from Harrogate, in Yorkshire, and their business specialized in installing power and heating systems using prefabricated parts. They designed and built the power plants for several large projects, including the steam heating system for the University of British Columbia. In 1910 William, Walter, Eleanor and Verna Leek all applied to buy land in the Cumberland mining district, no doubt part of the short-lived mining boom that so many of Vancouver’s more successful residents joined in. Leek also served as President of the Vancouver Exhibition Association and the Pacific National Exhibition for many years.

The building permit said the company designed the block. That’s quite possible as the family’s business meant they had the experience to draw up plans. They had designed their own 821 Pender Street premises in 1903, and in 1904 William Leek had designed and built his own home on Harwood Street. Walter also lived in the West End in the early 1900s, moving to Nicola Street. The company continued to occupy this building through the 1920s, and following William’s death, Walter ran the business. Several other younger members of the Leek family continued to work at a variety of trades in the company. By 1930 Walter was still in charge, but the business had crossed the street to new premises at 1111 Homer. This building was then occupied by The Canadian Westinghouse Co, who supplied power equipment for hydro electric projects, as well as manufacturing electrical apparatus for railway, industrial and domestic uses. They were still here when this 1943 Vancouver Public Library image was taken, operating their repair division, with several other businesses including a storage warehouse on the upper floors.

Today there’s office space on the upper floors, a bank on the main floor on Homer, and the Blue Water Café occupies the lower floor on Mainland Street, using the former raised loading dock as an outdoor patio.

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Posted September 12, 2019 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, Yaletown

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National Garage – Nelson Street

This $5,000 building was developed in 1918 by Henry Hoffmeister – who we seem to run across building garages all over Downtowen Vancouver over many years He designed, as well as developed the property. There were two houses developed here (on the corner of Nelson and Howe) in 1901, built by M A Farrell, but they lasted less than 20 years. In 1919, when G Kilgren had finished building it, P Shackleton and J Smith ran the National Garage. This 1918 image must have been taken as construction was wrapping up.

There had also been houses next door as well, on the corner of Hornby, but they had already been redeveloped into Trafalgar Mansions. The National business didn’t last very long; by 1922 the service station was operated by Dodge Brothers, (although there didn’t seem to be anybody called Dodge associated with the business, so more likely it sold Dodge Brothers vehicles, built in Hamtramck, Michigan). By 1925 it had become the Independent Garage run by G C Leach. In 1928 it was Beaver Motors run by A A H and C T Weston, and by 1931 Frost & McLaren Ltd were based here. A year later it became the Nelson Garage run by A L Evans and S K H Laughton. They lasted just a year, and the building was vacant in 1934, and a year later reopened again with H Gardner running the service station and Williams Auto Metal Works (run by E C Williams) sharing the property. We haven’t checked every year of the directories, but this business seems to have changed hands more than many others. By 1939 the Oke & Duke garage run by C C Oke was here, and remained here through the war, although A J Duke ran the business in the 1940s. Changes continued; in 1950 it was the Transport Service Garage, but Mr. Duke was still running the business, until 1952, which is the last time the building appears in the directory.

In 1982 a Hong Kong developer built Nelson Square, designed by Romses Kwan and Associates. The top 5 floors are residential; the rest of the 25 floor building is offices with retail and restaurants in a slightly sunken plaza.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-690

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Posted September 9, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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