391 Powell Street

This 3-storey building was 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 State. She married David S. Tuthill, an accountant, in 1874, and by 1878 had moved to Portland, Oregon. His apparent success in business was an illusion; by 1897 he was involved with several businesses including as president of the Acme Mills Ltd. The San Francisco Call reported on his death that year “David S. Tuthill, a prominent citizen and cashier for the firm of Allen & Lewis, committed suicide some time between 11 o’clock last night and 7 this morning. When his sister went to call him. as was her custom, she received no response. Opening the bedroom- door she found her brother stretched on the bed, dead, with a gaping bullet hole in his right temple. It is the general opinion that Tuthill was short in his accounts. The opinion is based on the fact that yesterday he deeded all his property to the Security and Savings Trust Company for a nominal consideration. Tuthill had been connected with the firm of Allen & Lewis for nineteen years. He was a native of Ellenville, N. Y , where his parents reside. He leaves a widow and one daughter.

Records suggest David and Emma had two daughters, but Mary was four when she died in 1881. Helen, who survived, was born in Ulster County, New York in 1875. By 1899 Emma Tuthill had moved to Vancouver, and she seems to have succeeded where her husband hadn’t. For an investment of $20,000 she become a special partner in F.R. Stewart and Company, a firm of wholesale produce merchants on Water Street. Her daughter, Helen, married a Portland bank manager in 1898, and they also moved north, where he became manager of the Vancouver branch of the Bank of British Columbia. Her husband, John Johnson was originally from Spalding, in England, and when the bank was dissolved he became the accountant at B.C. Sugar. They had a daughter, Beatrice in 1899, and in 1901 Emma was living with her daughter and son-in-law, their infant daughter, servant, and Chinese cook.

Helen and John had another daughter who they christened Helen, in 1904. John was in Fiji from 1905 to 1907, managing the Vancouver-Fiji Sugar Company, but he became ill, and returned to Vancouver as secretary of the British Columbia Sugar Refining Company. In 1912 the family moved to The Crescent in Shaughnessy, but in 1915 John’s wife, Helen, died, aged 39. John remarried in 1918 and from 1931 to 1936 he was the lieutenant governor of British Columbia.

From around 1910 Emma Tuthill moved into Glencoe Lodge, although her presence was only sometimes recorded in the street directory. She developed this building in 1912. The architects were actually Horton & Phipps, but the clerk could be permitted the error as they were a Victoria partnership. Emma died in 1927, and like her daughter was buried in Mountain View Cemetery.

The apartment building was completed in 1913, and became The Maple Rooms in 1914. Located in the heart of the Japanese community, their management was listed as ‘Japanese’. The stores downstairs were operated by K Imahori, a confectioner. and I Enata who ran a dry goods store. In 1917 the rooms were bought by Kurita Shojiro, who for a while was a contractor in the fishing industry.

In 1920 the Canadian Japanese Club was here, alongside the confectionery store. In 1925 the rooms had became the Nankai Hotel, and by 1930 the Victory Rooms run by K Nakashimada, with Ashai Paper Box on the main floor, alongside a restaurant run by T Kato. In 1940 the rooms and the box factory were still operating with the same owners, but the restaurant was the Sumiyoshi Cafe. After the war, when the Japanese had been cleared from the area, H Eng Soo was running the Victory Rooms. Harry Soo Eng was still running the rooms in 1955, with Choi Har Moon Pon. In 1972 the interior of one of the rooms was recorded by Niriko Hirota, who photographed its resident, Kiyoji Iizuka, one of the few Japanese who returned to the area. He had fought in WW1 as a volunteer soldier.

Residential use apparently ended in 1975. The facility was taken over by the St. James Society with the building renamed Victory House, offering a program for those with psychological disabilities. That was probably operating here when our 1978 image was taken. The building was deemed unfit, and was replaced by a new Victory House on East Cordova in 1997. Five years later St James built a new non-market housing building here; Somerville Place, with The Bloom Group (the new name for St James) having offices on the main floor.

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Posted 7 June 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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