Cambie Street north at West Cordova

This view north towards Burrard Inlet and the north shore is said to have been photographed around 1900, but actually it must be a little earlier than that. Two of the buildings are still standing, and most of the others we can see were built not too long after the picture was taken. On the left edge is the Horne Block, developed by James W Horne in 1895, and designed by N S Hoffar. It has an unusual arrangement of two floors of retail, exploiting the slope of Cambie Street. The upper floors were initially offices, but for many years have been SRO residential, with 18 rooms known as Danny’s Inn.

Next door is the Panama Block, developed in 1913. It’s triangular, without a lane, and was designed by fairly obscure architects (Wallington & Wheatley) who only appeared in the city in 1912, just as the economy tanked. The owners were McConnell, Abbott & Drayton and it cost $10,000 to build. We looked at who the developers were in the linked post.

Across the street to the north is one of the earlier buildings still standing today, developed as the Springer-Van Bramer Block, by American ships captain and mill owner James Van Bramer and mill manager Ben Springer. Built in 1888, it’s another N S Hoffar design, and once had the insignia of the Freemasons, whose hall was on the top floor. Down the hill, the Regina Hotel was the only building in Granville Township that survived the 1886 fire. It was replaced in 1907 by the Hotel Edward, developed by Swedish mining engineer Charles Edward Beckman at a cost of $21,000, although we don’t know the architect. He leased it for ten years to two former police officers, former jailer John Deptford, and Constable Gosby. They were fired by Chief Chisholm, after a bottle of liquor was found in a cell with its inmate. The chief in turn resigned his post, claiming he couldn’t run the police force due to interference from other officials in the city. John Deptford ran the hotel for several years, and today (unusually) it’s office space upstairs, rather than residential.

On the right, hidden by the trees, today there’s the McDowell, Atkins and Watson building from 1899, designed by J E Parr just before he formed his partnership as Parr and Fee. As there’s an earlier building in the picture, it must date back to closer to 1898. The developers were druggists, noted for their home-grown syrups like Linseed and Hoarhound, their Beef, Iron and Wine preparation and Extract of Sarsasparilla and Iodides. A few years later Stark’s Glasgow House moved their dry goods store here.

Across Cordova is the Whetham Block, developed by Dr. Whetham (who also built the Arlington Block in 1887 that faces the Springer-Van Bramer building). This building came a year after the Arlington, so was built in 1888, and was designed by N S Hoffar. Although a medical doctor, James Whetham spent his time as a real estate developer; by 1889 he had the sixth largest land holdings in the city, was on the board of trade and was a city alderman. In 1969 the almost windowless building that replaced Whetham’s was the one of only two buildings completed for Project 200, a massive redevelopment plan that would have seen the entire waterfront of Gastown demolished to be replaced with a row of towers over a waterfront freeway. Once the plan was dropped, this rather more modest structure was home to CNCP Telecommunications – perhaps the first serious hi-tech investment in the city, designed by Francis Donaldson and developed by Grosvenor Estates. Today it has been refigured as office space, as there’s no longer a  need for buildings full of equipment.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-2095

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Posted 29 October 2020 by ChangingCity in Altered, Gastown

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