62 East Hastings Street

Today there’s a vacant site, used temporarily as a Downtown Eastside market, but in 1985 there was a substantial building still standing next to the Shaldon Hotel (built in 1909 for H D Wright of Seattle). The first permit for the taller building was in 1904 for a $4,000 designed by J Young (who was actually a builder) for A Clemes. The first building mentioned here was in 1906, and it was probably the one in the picture, and had cost quite a lot more than the initial permit. (Strangely, this entire block of East Hastings was still vacant in 1903). It’s possible the 1904 permit was for an initial building on Market Alley, the lane at the back of the property, or that the $4,000 was an error and the sum was actually more. It’s possible the permit for the building was issued in 1905, and has been lost.

While we don’t know for certain whether it was Art Clemes who developed the building, it’s very likely. A few years later he developed the Regent Hotel down the street, (designed by Emil Guenther) and also the former Pantages Theatre there as well. He had built an earlier investment in 1903, so was in Vancouver and developing real estate in the early 1900s. In late 1905 James Young advertised in the Daily World that he had just completed the Clemes Block on East Hastings. A year earlier the same newspaper reported the acquistion of an East Hastings site: “Later Mr. Clemes will erect a handsome block on Hastings street. While this is the top price paid for unimproved property on that part of Hastings street, the purchase is considered by real estate men as a first class investment.”

In 1906, when the building was first complete, E S Knowlton had his drug store here, Minnie Olson had a rooming house, and Joseph Barss sold confectionery. A couple of years later the B C Concrete Block & Brick Co and Green and Melhuish’s real estate office had replaced the drugstore, and the Hastings Rooming House (run by Charles Mohr) was upstairs.

By 1918 the building was owned by the Palmer Land & Investment Company. The company was almost certainly run by Russell H Palmer, a contractor who came from PEI and had arrived in BC from the Yukon around 1907. The 1921 census shows his household consisting of Russell, aged 54, his younger sister, Gertrude and two sons; one aged 15 born in the Yukon, and one aged 13 born in BC. In 1912 he was sued with Palmer Brothers, and the Palmer Land & Investment Co, which we think establishes his connection to the investment company. His brother Arthur was a partner in the contracting business, and for a while so was Peter Henning. In 1918 the Investment Company hired builders Dixon and Murray to carry out $1,000 of repairs; ‘New marble base front installed & interior of bldgs. being given general overhauling’. The company ‘ceased to transact business’ in 1920.

The site, and the Shaldon Hotel are both going to be redeveloped as a new First Nations non-market housing building with 111 new apartments.

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Posted February 3, 2020 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone, Still Standing

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