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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