Powell Street – 300 block

Here’s the 300 block of Powell street looking westward. We looked at the history of T Maikawa’s art deco department store on the right (which today is a food manufacturing business) in an earlier post. In 1936 it replaced a 3-storey building with bay windows, seen here in 1929. It was a boarding house run by Y Uchibori, built around 1907 (when the building permits are missing). Mr. Maikawa had his store on the main floor. Before that there was a house here, occupied for many years by Maggie Phillips, a widow who worked as a nurse. The smaller buildings to the west were owned by builders Champion and White.

Next door. on the edge of the picture is another 3-storey building, a $35,000 apartment building designed (according to the permit) by ‘Horton & Phillips’ for ‘Mrs. Tuthill”. She lived in Glencoe Lodge at the time, and was originally from New York. She married David S. Tuthill, an accountant, in 1874, and they moved to Portland, Oregon. He was apparently successful in business; by 1897 he was president of the Acme Mills Ltd. He died at his home in 1897, from a gunshot to his head, which was probably self-inflicted. By 1899 Emma Tuthill had moved to Vancouver, and become a partner in F.R. Stewart and Company, a firm of wholesale produce merchants. Her daughter, Helen, married a Portland bank manager in 1898, and they also moved north, (her husband became an accountant at B.C. Sugar, and later President) but she died in 1915. Her mother died in 1927, and both are buried in Mountain View Cemetery. The architects were actually Horton & Phipps, but the clerk could be permitted the error as they were a Victoria partnership.

On the left is the 1912 rental apartments designed by William Gardiner, according to the building permit for David Sanguineti, who paid E J Ryan $45,000 to build the building. David and his wife Mary were from Italy and in their late 40s in 1911, and apparently earned enough income from their three lodgers and other sources to not have to work (according to the census). Their lodgers included an Italian tailor and an engineer.

David had arrived in Canada in 1880, when he would have been aged around 17, and Mary was 33 when she came in 1898. We had some trouble tracing David in Vancouver, until we remembered the struggles clerks had with spelling names. That way we found David living in the household of Angelo Calori in the Hotel Europe, in the 1901 census, when he was recorded as David Sanguinati, a barkeeper. The street directory managed a typo and a spelling puzzle, and called him Davis Sanguinetti in 1901 (the first time we find him in the city), David Sanginnet in 1902 and Sanguinette in 1904. By 1909 David was living on East Cordova and was the hotel Europe’s clerk, listed as Sanquineti. Strangely, although he supposedly developed this relatively expensive building in 1912, he was listed as David Sanguite, a labourer, that year.

In 1914 David applied to prospect for coal and natural gas on a 640 acre property on the Fraser River. By 1916 he was recorded as Sanguineti again, and once more was the clerk at the Hotel Europe. He still had the same job in 1920, and was only 59 when he died in 1921. He has a prominent memorial in Mountain View cemetery, which tells us he came from Genova. His widow, Maria Martina Sanguineti was buried with him following her death in 1937. She died at St Paul’s hospital, and the funeral cortege left from Angelo Calori’s home in the West End. For David to have accumulated sufficient funds to develop a building like this from a clerk’s job in a hotel seems unlikely. It seems more likely that he was backed by other partners, most likely Mr. Calori who was very successful, and reasonably wealthy.

The building housed the Sun Theatre from 1912-1918. It was in the eastern half of the building, so not quite in this image. C F Edwards ran the movie theatre initially, and in 1913 advertised ” CHANGE OF PROGRAMME DAILY THE SUN THEATRE 368 POWELL STREET, 6 BIG REELS. 5c. The home of Variety – Meet Me at the Sun. (Kindly note the Star is not the only six-reel show in town.) The operation appears short-lived, or at least there was no advertising after that year. By 1915 the building had become part of Japantown. The Canadian Japanese Association had their offices in the Sun Rooms, along with Japan Canada Resources Co and M Yamada’s real estate business, and the Theatre.

A story in the Vancouver Sun showed the attitudes to the Japanese population after they had been forced from the coast into internment camps in 1941. “PRESENT OPERATOR FINED $50 FORMER JAP LODGINGS ‘NOT FIT FOR HUMANS’ E. C Thompson, operator of a rooming house at 376 Powell, was fined $50 by Magistrate Mackenzie Matheson Monday for an Infraction of the health bylaw. In fining the defendant His Worship expressed the belief that former Japanese rooming houses were “in a filthy condition and not fit for human habitation.” Counsel for Thompson told the court his client had taken over the premises in 1941 and had since that date been ‘waging a relentless war on vermin’.

Today the Japanese connection has been restored with the building’s name; Sakura-So, now owned by the Lookout Emergency Aid Society, and providing 38 units in a renovated SRO. (There’s also the New Sakura-So, a seniors housing facility located in Burnaby). All of the tenants have come from the street or shelters, and have a chronic history of homelessness, and are supported by on site tenant support workers paid for through income from tenant rents, retail rents, and an annualized grant from Vancouver Coastal Health. Sakura So offers “supported transitional units” and aims to move residents to better and more permanent housing over time. Lookout spent over $3m improving conditions and adding bathrooms in the property in 2015. A grant of $190,000 from the City of Vancouver was tied to an agreement that the rooms would remain as social housing, at welfare rates, for 60 years or the life of the building.

The building next door was built as a bank in 1913. Designed by Parr Mckenzie and Day, it cost $30,000 as it was built with reinforced concrete construction for the Japan Trust Co. It replaced a building that had been erected in 1904 as tiny ‘cabin’ housing developed by H C Train.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-2467

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Posted 15 October 2020 by ChangingCity in Altered, East End

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