936 Main Street

The larger building on the left is the American Hotel, (the Clarendon Hotel when it was built in the early 1900s). It might have been designed by William Blackmore – he had a commission for a building here, but only apparently for a single lot, not the double lot that was developed with the hotel, so we’re not sure whether he actually designed the building that was completed around 1907. The smaller 936 Westminster Avenue to the south was built soon afterwards.

In 1901 Mrs. Mary Walker had built a $600 frame dwelling here. We don’t know who Mrs. Walker was. She wasn’t obvious in the census that year, if she lived in Vancouver. The two Mary Walkers were married to men with low wage employment, and neither were in construction. She didn’t appear to move into the house; it was vacant in 1902 and a miner, Jacob Shermer lived there in 1903.

This building was apparently constructed in 1907. It was certainly built by 1908 when Belcastro & Co, tailors were here with Arthur Adams, a barber. In 1911 we have a permit that says developer R Stafford hired Coffin & McLennan to carry out $1,400 of work (we assume repairs) on the building. That year a fire affected another building close by on this block that the news report said was owned by J Stafford. We think the fire was in the building next door, (where there was already a vacant site in our 1985 image) and the owner would most likely have been Jonathan Stafford, who owned a stables and delivery business in Mount Pleasant. He was from Ontario, born around 1855, and had been in Brandon, Manitoba before moving to Vancouver. Jonathan Stafford was 95 when he died in 1949.

The only possible local resident was a Richard Stafford, who was living at the Commercial Hotel in 1907 and retired and in a rooming house on Burrard Street in the 1910s, but he had been a labourer with the Parks Board, so seemed an unlikely investor. The legal title was held by ‘Richard Staffors’ from 1907 to 1921, although the retired Parks Board worker died in 1915, when he was also shown having been born in 1855, single, and also from Ontario.

So we, and others, haven’t been able to make any sense of who actually developed the building, or even exactly when, and with no permits now available from the early 1900s we can’t identify the designer either.

The tailors weren’t here long. By 1910 this was occupied by the Ross Second Hand Store, run by L Rossman
& M Goldskin. By 1912 this had become Main Street (renamed from Westminster Avenue), and Nick Castis was running a restaurant. That didn’t last long; as the war started William Freeman was selling furniture, and by the end of the war Sun Fat Co were selling produce. In 1920 the State of Maine Junk Co run by Samuel Gordon and Abraham Green had moved in, after the building owner, D Goldberg, had carried out repairs to the staircase. In 1924 Louis Davis’s Coast Junk Company made more repairs to the vacant store, and had moved in by 1925.

In the 1930s the Nathan Perelman’s Tacoma Junk Co were here – and owned a Ford truck for the business.  Nathan made the news in 1945 “Nathan Perelman, 68 of 445 West Twenty-ninth, proprietor of the Tacoma Junk Company, after getting off one street car was struck by another going the opposite direction. He suffered severe head lacerations and was taken to General Hospital by Kingsway Ambulance. His condition is reported “fairly good.

They were still here in 1953, with Morris Burnstein running the store with Mr. Perelman, although a 1958 obituary for Joseph Sussman said he was the overall owner of the business, which originated in Tacoma and also operated in Seattle. Nathan died in 1953, and a court case led to his name in the press for a final time. “Chief Justice Farris awarded Mrs. Lena Burnstein, 445 West Twenty-ninth, $20,000 for taking care for 22 years of the late Nathan Perelman, Vancouver merchant who died last April. Perelman made his home with Mrs. Bernstein and her husband, Morris, but paid no board on the understanding that he would remember Mrs. Bernstein in his will, He left an estate of $81,000 and distributed about $10,000 to named beneficiaries, but left nothing to Mrs. Bernstein. The balance of the estate, Perelman directed, was to go to charities to be selected by his executors, David A. Freeman and Morris Bernstein. As counsel for Mrs. Bernstein on her petition for payment for the care she gave Perelman, A. A. Mackoff suggested $15,000. But Chief Justice Farris said $20,000 would be a more appropriate compensation.

Morris Burnstein continued to run the business here through the 1960s. They were an early example of recycling, as they collected beer bottles which the sorted and returned to the breweries. They paid the public 25c a dozen.

The building has been abandoned for many years, after significant fire damage. A plan was approved to construct a rental building that would have incorporated the facade, but earlier this year BC Housing acquired the site as well as the adjacent vacant site and the American Hotel, with a view to redevelop one day on the full 100′ frontage.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-0669

1105

Posted 19 August 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

Tagged with

%d bloggers like this: