Firehall #2, Seymour Street

Fire was one of the biggest concerns in the new City of Vancouver. Having seen almost every building burnt to the ground weeks after incorporation in 1886, the new City Council quickly bought fire fighting equipment and required fire-proof construction, (although the need to rebuild quickly meant that initially new buildings were often still wooden). Firehall #1 was on Water Street, the centre of the original settlement which was known as the Town of Granville for nearly 20 years before the city was created. The second firehall was built on Seymour Street in 1888, in the middle of pretty much nothing, except cleared forest, and ambition. It was also wooden, surrounded by the new city quickly developing with wooden houses in new residential neighbourhoods here, including on either side of the firehall. It was soon replaced with something larger, and more solidly built; in 1902 W T Whiteway was hired to design this handsome replacement, and he got the permit in 1903 for the $29,000 development. It had a castle-like hose tower at the back, on the lane that was quite prominent on the skyline. Whiteway also designed an almost identical replacement for the Water Street hall, on a new site on East Cordova a couple of years after this one.

This 1907 Vancouver Public Library image shows that the firehall had three floors, with a hose tower on the lane. The tower looked like a church from a distance. This building remained in use until 1950, when a new Firehall #1 was opened on Hamilton Street, and the East Cordova firehall was renamed as Firehall #2.

This site was swallowed up into BC Telephone’s expanding footprint. In 1975 they added a huge new automated exchange on Seymour to the north in a building designed by McCarter, Nairne and Partners. This new BC Tel building was apparently built in two phases, as the 1961 image on the left shows a new building where an earlier BC Tel building was located, and the site of Firehall #2, (which was still standing in 1957). In the past couple of years the interior of the Telus building has partially been repurposed as office space, and additional equipment and earthquake proofing added. The entire structure had a glazed skin added, over the top of the original structure. A similar new skin was added in 2000 to the 1948 William Farrell Building , on the corner of Seymour and Robson, sold by Telus to Avigilon Security Systems a few years ago.

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Posted 10 September 2020 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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