Granville Street 600 block – west side

This side of Granville Street was demolished to make room for the extension of Pacific Centre Mall northwards. At the far end of the block in this 1953 image was the Colonial Theatre, a cinema converted in 1912 from an 1888 office building. We looked at its history in one of our early posts over 8 years ago. It was originally designed by New York architect Bruce Price for Sir William Van Horne. President of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Since then, the 1974 office tower that replaced the cinema has been reclad to a lighter colour, with double glazed widows.

Closer to us, just showing on the left of the picture was 679 Granville, a 1910 3-storey building designed by Dalton & Eveleigh for Henry Bell-Irving. In 1953 Purdy’s chocolate store was here, with the Devon Cafe. Next door, at 665 Granville, D’Allaird’s lady’s clothing store had obscured the facade of their building. It appears to have been built in 1904, with the St Louis rooms above retail, initially occupied by R J Buchanan’s crockery store, and Cicero Davidson’s jewelers. We think the site was owned and developed by Jonathan Rogers, who applied to build a $24,000 building on the three lots here in 1904 – described (somewhat inaccurately) as a ‘frame dwelling’. The whole building included both the D’Aillards lot and the building with mis-matched windows to the north. (It’s hard to see in the image, but one has a curved cornice, and the other a shallow pyramid). Mr. Rogers was a builder and identified himself as the architect too. D’Aillards Blouses Ltd carried out work to 651 Granville (just to the north) in 1925, so had been in this area for many years.

The next building appears to have two identical facades, but was developed as a single structure, also in 1904. It was designed by Parr and Fee for Mrs. Northgroves, and cost $15,000. We’re not really sure who Mrs. Northgraves was. She doesn’t appear in any street directory, or census, although she was listed as attending a function with many other women in 1913. There was a Miss Northgrave, who lived on ‘income’, with her sister (and he sister’s husband, William Walsh, who was listed as a ‘capitalist’ under occupation in the 1911 census). In 1905 and in 1908 Mrs. Walsh and Miss Northgrave left the city to spend the winter in Southern California. Mr. Walsh developed a number of properties in the city, including some designed by Parr and Fee.

The building with the four Roman arches beyond also dates from the early 1900s, and we’ve failed to identify the architect or developer. In the early 1920s it was owned by B. Holt Fur Company, who spent over $5,000 on repairs and alterations. In the 1910s P W Charleson carried out repairs to 641 and 657 Granville on several occasions, and ‘Charlson & Abbott’ to 665 Granville. (Percy Charleson also owned 800 Granville, two blocks to the south). Fraser Hardware also paid for alterations to 641 Granville in the mid 1910s, and were tenants here. Brown Bros appear to have owned the properties in the mid 1920s.

Down the street, the narrower four storey building was approved to be developed as an apartment building in 1912. Charles Williams of Acroyd & Gall claimed to be developer, architect and builder of the $29,000 project. This was one of very few building lots that had originally been developed before 1901 (when the only other building that had been developed was the 1888 office on the corner). Richards, Ackroyd and Gall were an Insurance, Finance and Real Estate agency and there was a civil engineer called Charles Williams who might have managed the development. It’s not clear if the project was for the company, or whether they were representing a client when they submitted the plans.

Next door, there’s a modest 2-storey building. It was developed in 1910 by W F Huntting, who hired Thomas Hooper to design the $13,000 investment. William Foster Huntting was the wealthy president of the Huntting-Merritt Lumber Company, and he had a Shaughnessy mansion built in 1912. He was born in Iowa in 1879, and was successful in business at a young age, founding his lumber company in 1902, the year he arrived in BC. He died in 1930.

There’s another small building to the north, designed by W T Dalton for Edward Bros, who spent $7,000, hiring E Cook to build it in 1902. Beyond that, (just before the cinema), is a building on two lots. It has a shallow bay window on the second floor, and was apparently called The Bower Block in 1907, when it was developed by G Bower, who hired Hooper and Watkins to design the $15,000 investment. George Bower built other Granville projects including a much larger investment on the next block to the north two years later, using the same architects.

Image source: Leonard Frank, Jewish Museum LF.00308

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