Archive for April 2022

St Luke’s Court – East Cordova Street

This 1920s Arts and Crafts style building replaced a building that housed the City’s first hospital, St Luke’s. The original seven bed building was intended as a maternity hospital, but with no other general hospital in the city in 1888, it became the general hospital by default. Not too much later the city opened a brick building on Cambie Street which later became Vancouver General Hospital, and the Sisters of Charity of Providence opened a three-storey building on Burrard Street, founding St. Paul’s Hospital. St Luke’s continued to be used as a hospital for a short while, and then became a nursing residence.

The site was redeveloped in 1923 as a women’s hostel or guest home, called St Luke’s Home, designed by Sharp and Thompson. It was funded with a bequest from J.B. Greaves, founder of the Douglas Lake Cattle Company, and was initially a residence for retired nurses, community workers and nuns. Our 1978 image shows it when it was the St Luke’s Home.

Now named St Luke’s Court, in 1986 the building was refurbished and enlarged so that there are now 9 rental apartments. It is in private ownership and was most recently sold in 2015.



Posted 28 April 2022 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Plaza Apartments – Bute Street

This 1930s Vancouver Public Library image shows the relatively newly completed Plaza Apartments. E Evans & Son designed the $65,000 apartment building for Hugh Warner, in 1927.

Hugh A Warner Co had a series of permits through from 1925 to the 1930s for over 20 apartment buildings, many of them, in South Granville, but others in the West End. There were at least three more apartment buildings in the late 1920s. It seems that all the earlier buildings were designed by Enoch Evans, but later Ross A Lort designed several, and the aged W T Whiteway was given one commission. Most were frame apartments, often in the ‘Spanish Mission style’, and together they would have cost well over a million dollars to develop. However, presumably for cash flow purposes, Mr. Warner often sold the buildings soon after completion, and in at least one case ‘off plan’, before he had even built it.

Hugh A Warner was from England, born in 1880 (his death notice) and not 1885 (his marriage certificate). That said his parents were Frederick Warner and Hannah Miller, and we found him, and his sister, in the 1881 UK census living with Frederick, a 40-year old warehousman, and Hannah, his 30 year old mother. In 1891 his mother had become Hannah Mayes, married to Charles Mayes, who was 18 years older. Hugh Arthur Warner was christened in 1880 in St Olave, Bermondsey, in South London, so it would seem he was making himself a few years younger when he married.

The 1901 census showed him as a 20 year old carpenter, in lodgings in Lewisham.  His Vancouver wedding certificate said that when he married Emily Melcombe, in 1914, he was a widower, and we found his first wedding, to Emily Follett in Lewisham in 1902. They had a child, Dorothy, in 1907, and possibly a twin, Emily Elizabeth, who died a year later. Emily Daisy Warner died in Lambeth in 1909, the same year Hugh left England for Canada.

In 1921 he was living with Emily, who was 28, and had arrived in Canada in 1913, his daughter Dorothy who was 14 and 2-year-old Betty.

In 1928 “Mr. Hugh A. Warner, well-known city building contractor, is convalescing following an operation in the Vancouver General Hospital.” He seems to have fully recovered; there are records of him passing through New York (presumably en route to England) in 1934, 1935 and 1936. Hugh Arthur Warner died in 1959, aged 78 and Emily Ada Warner died in 1977, aged 85.

The apartments appeared in many newspaper items over the years. Some offered suites for lease, (in 1982 a studio was $299 a month), others reported a lost dog, and a lost New Zealand passport, or a kitten available. There were deaths in hospital of former residents, and weddings announcing plans for the newly wedded to move here. One resident, in 1955, was selling his cascade green Pontiac de luxe sedan – ‘with direction signals’ – for $2,500, and another in 1957 a walnut chest of drawers for $15.

In 1939 the apartments were owned by A E Wilson, who seems to have not been the best landlord in the city. “Damages. of $150 were awarded by Mr. Justice Coady Wednesday to Mrs. Bertha Johnson, widow, 63, of 1215 Bute Street, in her suit against A. E. Wilson, 925 Bute Street, because of a remark he made about her a year ago. His Lordship found that Wilson’s statement was defamatory and malicious. Mrs. Johnson, whose case was conducted by H. R. Bray, claimed Wilson, her landlord when she was a tenant in the Plaza Apartments, 925 Bute, accused her of taking fixtures. C. K. Guild acted for Wilson.” In 1944 Rick Horne’s parents were given notice by Mr. Wilson as they now had a baby daughter. “Also, you must use the side entrance when you come in or go out with your baby carriage.”

In 1956 there was an advertisement in The Vancouver Sun for the building (but no price stated): “PLAZA APARTMENTS 925 Bute Street West End 22 Suites Excellent Corner Location Buff Brick Veneer gross revenue $18,000 plus.” Today the building still offers rental apartments.


Posted 25 April 2022 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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716 West Hastings Street

The cafe in this 1931 Vancouver Public Library picture was (briefly) the Chocolate Shop Cafe #2. Leonard’s Cafe had been here for many years – we saw it, (but didn’t look at its history), in an earlier post. The 1920 insurance map shows a restaurant, and the 1924 street directory said it had been in business for over 30 years. Originally the cafe here, and one at 163 W Hastings were run by George (or Clayton) Leonard. He opened the Cafe that bore his name in 1902, but had previously run the Oyster Bay Restaurant on Carrall Street, from 1894. The 1871 census showed him aged 9 as C George Leonard, and the 1891 census showed him in St Stephen, New Brunswick, listed as Clayton Leonard, married to Nellie. In 1903 G Clayton Leonard hired Parr and Fee to build a $3,500 house at Bute and Barclay. In 1905 Clayton G Leonard visited Honolulu – so he switched between using his first and middle names fairly frequently, and sometimes the order was switched as well.

The cafe here was apparently developed by Mr. Leonard in 1906, and reported by the Daily World. “Its opening marks a new era locally in the business in which Mr. Leonard is engaged, and a visit to the place is well worth one’s while simply for the purposes of inspection.”  “He engaged the design services of Mr. James Bloomfield who decorated the restaurant as well as designed the furniture.  Entering the nearly one hundred foot dining room from the street, diners stepped across a tiled entry in which a mosaic of the famous Leonard badge of the head of a setter bearing a bird was inlaid.  The design was repeated on some of the light fixtures.  The dining room was decorated in a west coast theme featuring scenes of First Nations peoples in four large murals entitled The First SockeyeThe Clam GatherersThe Homecoming, and The Lone Paddler.  Four large folding screens were decorated with scenes of birds and morning themes featuring paintings of English Bay, the Prospect Point lighthouse and other local scenes and landmarks.”

One feature was unique to the establishment: ” A grand staircase at the back of the dining room lead up to a rooftop garden which would be open seasonally for dining and, at the time of its construction, afforded views of Burrard Inlet”. There’s more about Mr. Leonard and his restaurants (and their china) on the Neumann Collection blog. The 1911 census shows he was born in New Brunswick, and his wife Nellie was American. They were divorced later that year, and he married Jeanette Rice in March 1912 in San Francisco.  He sold his business in 1915, although the name lived on after his death (In 1916, at his new home in Los Angeles). He’d accurately said he was 50 when he married, but his death certificate also said he was 50 (which was inaccurate – he was 54).

In 1924 there were repairs and alterations to the building that cost Edwardes and Names $2,600, which seems likely to be when the new facade appeared. We suspect they weren’t the owners of the building, but rather the agents who looked after its leasing and repair. Dixon and Madill owned the Leonard Café operation after Mr. Leonard sold it, and in the mid 1920s it was sold to the Michas family who ran it for nearly twenty years, until 1944. They moved their restaurant operation to 831 Granville Street in 1929, and this briefly became the offices of an oil and mining stockbroker. Leonard’s business on Granville was sold to the Menzies family of Chilliwack in 1944. The business moved again in the late 1940s to 720 West Pender and the café burned down in 1961, taking the Arctic Club, located on the second floor, with it.

The image above, and on the right, were taken in 1931, when it reopened as The Chocolate Shop Cafe, run by Nicholas and Dennis Sagris. (Chocolate Shop #1 was at 160 W Hastings). Townley & Matheson had designed a new store for this location in 1929, owned by Stobie, Furlong & Co. The Chocolate Shop was a short-lived operation; in 1934 this was the Melrose Cafe, managed by Tom Latsoudes. He’d been running his cafe 2 doors to the west at 724, and stayed here for many years. In 1936 he acquired the second floor, and could cater weddings and club parties in the new Golden Room. The staff increased from 45 to 60. Wally Thomsett reminisced in the Vancouver Sun how “our family of five would go for dinner to the Melrose Cafe, just west of Granville on the south side of Hastings. Dad would order five full-course meals for 25 cents each. Even in those days, it was hard to believe, but true!” The Museum of Vancouver have one of the menus, and it shows prices had risen by the 1950s (although you could still go wild and have Eastern Oysters for 35c).

Today this is part of the United Kingdom Building which has been here for over 60 years. Built in two phases in 1957 and 1960 it was designed by Douglas Simpson just after the breakup of his practice with Hal Semmens.


Posted 21 April 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Stanley Park and the West End from above (2)

The angle on these two images is very slightly off, although it was shot at almost the same elevation. Our ‘before’ shot is from 1973 by William Roozeboom was taken from slightly further south, so he was just past the seawall. Trish Jewison, in the Global BC traffic helicopter shot the more contemporary image in July 2020, and the slightly different location of the picture means the entrance to False Creek can be seen.

Compared to the early 1970s much of the structure of Downtown, from this angle, has remained unchanged (although it’s significantly denser). Our previous aerial comparison posted a few weeks ago was of the same part of the city, shot much lower, in 1964, when the West End towers were starting to appear. Many more were built in the late 1960s, and a few in the early 1970s. In 1973 The Sheraton Landmark was under construction, although the revolving restaurant had yet to be added. It opened a year later, but when our 2020 image was shot it had just been demolished, with the foundations removed and an even bigger hole had been dug for two residential towers that were starting to appear above grade.

The largest area of change is to the north, along the waterfront of Coal Harbour, which was still industrial in the early 1970s. We saw a different angle from 1972 in another William Roozeboom image. Off in the distance, in 1973 the south shore of False Creek was almost empty, having been cleared and commencing redevelopment as the city’s first large scale urban renewal where older industry was replaced with a residential neighbourhood.

In 1973 the dark glass on the TD Tower in the Pacific Centre on Granville Street really made it stand out – today there are more towers clustered around it, but it’s still possible to make it out without much difficulty.

It’s possible to see the line of Robson Street in 2020, because the buildings tend to be lower. For a stretch of several blocks there’s a policy to restrict higher buildings to get more natural light onto the street, and closer to Stanley Park there are older, and lower scale buildings. That’s currently changing as there are three more towers proposed on Robson, one recently completed as well as the two being built on the Landmark site, and to the north along Alberni there are twelve more submitted or underway, several of them designed by international architects with some extraordinary contemporary designs.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 23-06 and Trish Jewison, Global BC helicopter.


Posted 18 April 2022 by ChangingCity in Altered

Persepolis Hotel – 351 Columbia Street

This modest rooming house has been operating for at least 110 years, but its development is something of a mystery. The smaller building to the left, with the arched entrance, is on the southern half of the lot. That’s Parr and Fee’s building for Borland and Brown, from 1902, and was home to The Horse Shoe Hotel. The part of the site in the picture was vacant until 1907. In 1908 there were businesses addressed here, so we can reasonably assume that’s when the building was constructed, in the dark years where building permits have been lost. We think James Borland would have been the developer. He built the Horse Shoe Hotel in 1902, and was still carrying out alterations and repairs up to 1912.

James was originally from Ontario, arriving in Vancouver around 1891. He started as a builder with two houses built in 1892 – both still standing. His death notice said that he arrived in Vancouver in 1888, although the street directories didn’t include him until 1892, and he appears to still be in Ontario in the 1891 census. He was born in Huron, Ontario, around 1864 and married Sarah Hamill, who was from Grey County, Ontario. They initially lived in the East End, then moved to the West End in 1901, where they stayed for over 20 years. When James died in 1937 he was living in Shaughnessy Heights. Over many years he developed a property empire, including several hotels and other commercial investments.

The 1912 insurance map shows this building as part of the hotel, and there’s no reference in the street directory to any separate lodging here initially. The 1908 directory shows McLean & Oliphant, real estate closer to the lane, and The Horse Shoe Hotel Grill next to the hotel. In 1909 Royal City Realty Co took over the real estate office, and a year later the Empire Shoe Shop and the Empire Tailor Shop. The Horse Shoe Grill expanded to take the whole frontage in 1912. The Grill closed a couple of years later. Annie Snider, a tailor operated here in 1915, and Maurice Glucksman offered a similar service in 1920. By then there was also a barber and B B Taxi – rivals to Central Taxi who were located immediately opposite. The ‘rooms over’ shown on the insurance map that year were still the Horseshoe Hotel, and the hotel bar was on the corner of East Hastings. BC Collateral, a pawnbroker had moved in to the other half of the main Hastings frontage.

A Hamill and S A Harris hired R Hill to make alterations to one of the stores in 1920, and A Babalos opened a barber’s shop in the unit. A Hamill also carried out more alterations to another unit in 1923. Alfred Hamill was a motorman for the BC Electric Railway, but he apparently also owned this property, and he built himself an expensive ($7,500) house on West 40th Avenue in 1926. The reason for his involvement in the building, and property, was presumably because Alfred was James Borland’s brother-in-law.

Stores came, and went over the years. B B Taxi stayed for years, joined in 1930 for example by Horseshoe clothiers and Horseshoe Tailors and Cleaners. Five years later the New Horseshoe Tailors were here, and Blue Cabs. By 1947 both Horseshoe Tailors and Cleaners and Blue Cabs were still here, but the upper floors had become the Sunshine Rooms.

By the early 1950s the property had been split. On Hastings, to the left, BC Collateral and Cunningham Drugs (who had occupied the stores for many years) were underneath the Toon W O Fong rooms, while here the ‘Frinces Rooms’ were run by Chow Choy. Wing Mah who ran confectionery store Wing Hong Co, lived over the shop, and Horse Shoe Tailors were still in operation next to the lane. (We have no idea if that was the actual name of the rooming house, or a typo).

The names of the businesses here continued to change over the years. In our 1978 picture Hing Hing was running a store next to Eddie’s Trading Post, that offered to buy or sell pretty much anything. In 2001 this was the Evergreen Rooms, still in Chinese ownership when it was ordered closed for a number of violations of the Standards Maintenance By-law (among other problems). The building reopened in 2008 as the Persepolis Hotel; still a privately owned SRO hotel with 27 rooms. The retail store was most recently ‘Farm’, an unlicenced cannabis dispensary, which was not approved to continue in operation when it sought to become legitimate.


Posted 14 April 2022 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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1348 Robson Street

This is another survivor of an earlier era still standing on Robson. In this 1934 Vancouver Public Library image it was the Hotel Gifford. It had been developed by R J Kerr, and the architects, Sharp & Thompson, filed the drawings (today in the University of Calgary collection) as ‘Kerr Rooming House’. The $41,000 investment was built by Carver, Jones & Carver in the fall of 1912.

Mr Kerr was listed as a director of the Hastings Shingle Manufacturing Company in the period when the company owned a mill in Vancouver as well as at Moodyville (and four in Washington state) in 1906. He was also Company Secretary and Treasurer to B C Packers, the huge fish canning business in 1907. But he didn’t have a home in Vancouver, although oddly, Mrs. R J Kerr was present at a variety of events.

Then we realized that R J Ker of Victoria was listed as secretary of B C Packers, and was also part of Brackman-Ker, a milling company. Their premises on Pender Street were also referenced as Brackman-Kerr, so the additional ‘r’ was a common error. In 1901 Robert Ker, and his brother Arnot were both living with their mother, Annie, who was aged 70. Robert was 36, and a ‘cannery-man’, and Arnot was two years younger and a ‘Mill man’, and both had been born in BC. Their older brother, David was the ‘Ker’ in Brackman-Ker, but all three were directors of the company.

The family name pops up in several other contexts, and tells us Robert’s family origin. His father was also Robert Ker, and arrived in Victoria in 1859. He became attorney-general of the Province, helping establish Victoria as the capital, and one of the early auditors-general of BC, described as a close fried of Governor James Douglas. He died when Robert was just 15. Having retired from government service, he farmed in The Gorge outside Victoria, and during a winter snowstorm he died of exposure.

When Granville burned to the ground in 1886 it was the crew of the ‘Robert Ker’ (anchored off Deadman’s Island, but dragged into the Inlet in the huge wind that fanned the fire’s flames) that launched the ship’s boats and saved many lives of people standing helpless on shore as the town burned down.

Not long after his investmnet was complete, at the end of 1913, The Province reported that R J Ker Esq. was retiring from business and returning to England. The contents of his apartment in Granville Mansions were to be sold off: “Auction of Valuable High-class Modern and Antique English Furniture”. In 1919 the Colonist reported that Mr. Ker’s death was one of many away from Victoria – he was 54 years old when he died in Kensington.

When it opened as the Hotel Gifford, Gifford R Thomson was running it. Originally from the Shetland Islands of Scotland where he was born in 1848, he arrived in Kelowna in 1892 with his wife, Harriet, and eight children (with a ninth born soon after their arrival). He initially had an orchard, but it grew poorly because of the high water table, and to make a living he drove the mail three times a week to Vernon. He pre-empted a different property in 1900 and built up a mixed farm, initially growing hay, but later a variety of vegetables. When he moved to Vancouver to open the hotel his two sons remained behind to run the farm. Gifford lived on Nelson Street, but he rented rooms in the house and moved here. In 1920 Albert Howard was running the Gifford Hotel, and in the 1921 census Harriet was living back in Kelowna with some of her children, and there’s no sign of her husband in the census. In 1923 A C Howard, proprietor from 1920, renamed the hotel as the Vendome Hotel. Mrs E Duncan had taken over running the hotel by 1929.

Gifford Ratter Thomson died in 1932, aged 84. (His mother was Elizabeth Ratter, hence the unusual middle name; his parents were recorded as Magnus Thomason and Elizabeth Rattor on his birth record). The hotel was still the Gifford in 1955, with the Gifford Dining Room on the main floor. Today it’s the Barclay Hotel, with the adjoining building to the east joined on.


Posted 11 April 2022 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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628 Harris Street

These days this is East Georgia Street, but it was still Harris in 1911 when W J Dickinson built an apartment building. Misleadingly, the clerk recorded this as a ‘1-storey frame dwelling house’ but it has always been a 3-storey building, designed by A E Cline and costing $8,000 to build.

Initially we couldn’t find Mr. Dickinson; however, we got lucky when the newspapers reported that Hazel Dickinson, daughter of W J Dickinson, got married in 1911 to Frederick Bescoby. That allowed us to find her parents, William John Dickinson and Isabella C Bundy. The marriage certificate shows that ‘Hazel’ had been christened Ada Marinia Dickinson, but clearly that wasn’t how she was known within the family. Both parents were from England; (Isabella was from London). Hazel had been born in Winnipeg, and she had two younger brothers, ‘Hugh’ (christened Robert) and George, aged 20 and 13, who had been born in BC. Robert Lister Dickinson’s birth record shows his mother had been Isabella Caroline Bundy before she married. She was born in St. George In The East, London, and christened in St. Mary Magdalene’s Church, Bermondsey (south London, although part of Surrey in 1860). Her father was Jabez Robert Bundy, (recorded as Bundey on her christening record) and her mother was called Caroline.

In 1911 W. J was shown as retired, but we can find Hazel, and so the whole family, in the 1901 census. There they were inaccurately recorded as Dickenson, and at that time William was working as a moulder. That sounds correct, as William John Dickinson was shown living at 622 Harris in 1901. In 1895 the Conservative Association held an election where W J Dickinson was elected to the executive committee. At that time he was a moulder at the B C Ironworks.

This building was, as we’ve seen with other buildings, a redevelopment of a reasonably recently built house to create a larger investment property. Often the developer lived in the redeveloped home, but in this case Mr. Dickinson lived two doors away. In 1892 he was shown as a moulder at the South Vancouver Foundry, and living on ‘Harris Street, south side, fourth north of Heatley’. At that point the numbers had not been allocated, but by 1901 that would be 622 Harris. The first mention we can find is in 1891, when Mr. Dickinson was in rooms on Powell Street, and the census shows that was when the family arrived in Vancouver.

The 1913 insurance map shows that 622 Harris had been renumbered to 618, and the directory shows that Fred Bescoby was living there. Presumably it was a favorable rental while the house that the Bescoby’s were building was being completed. In 1914 the Dickinson’s were living on Victoria Drive, the Bescoby’s on West 5th Avenue, and this had become listed as The Dickinson Apartments, with five units, and a grocery store run by Hyman Bloom.

William John Dickinson died, aged 83, in 1942, and Isabella a year later, aged 82. Their son Robert was only 61 when he died in 1952, and son-in-law Frederick Bescoby in 1964 at the age of 82. Their daughter Isabel died in 1969, and an earlier daughter, May, died aged 17 in 1933. Hazel Bescoby died in 1978, aged 89, outlived only by her brother, George Vancouver Dickinson, who died in 1980 aged 82. Her married daughter, Hazel Wilson, died in 1995.

In 1940 these were still the Dickinson Apartments, now divided into seven, with S Oyami’s grocery. It appears that following Mr. Oyami’s removal from the Lower Mainland, the store became another apartment, home to Anton Perry and his wife Jessie in 1945 (although Anton was away on active service). The apartments were numbered oddly, presumably reflecting how they were split over time. In 1945 they were one, two, three, three and a half, four, five and seven. In 1955 there were nine apartments numbered one two, two and a half, three, four, six, seven, nine and ten. 628, the former store, was occupied by Hamilton Products, a janitorial supply business. Our 1978 image shows the building when it was being offered for sale.


Posted 7 April 2022 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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903 Homer Street

This former printing works has barely changed in appearance in the 40 years since this image was taken. The original ‘Brick Printing House’ was developed by the B C Printing & Engraving Company in 1907, and cost $15,000. They had previously been on the corner of Water and Abbott Streets, and C B Wainwright was manager of the lithography company. In 1912 there was a development permit for the Hon. H Bostock, who had Dalton and Eveleigh design a $10,000 addition built by Robert McCullough. (That may indicate who designed the original 1907 building as well – built in the few years that we have no permits to identify an architect).

Hewitt Bostock was an absentee owner, born in 1864, in Surrey, England. He had money, and a law degree. He arrived in Canada in 1886, and ranched in the Thompson Valley in the area that would be known later as Monte Creek. He returned to England in 1890 to marry, and only returned to Canada in 1893. He founded the Province newspaper as a weekly in Victoria in 1894, and invested widely in other businesses, including lumbering, mining companies, another newspaper and commercial buildings in Kamloops.

As far as we can tell this was his only Vancouver investment, and it appears he owned the printing business. He moved The Province to Vancouver in 1898, making it a daily paper, initially printed by BC Printing and Engraving. He had run for parliament and won, representing Yale-Cariboo in 1896, but didn’t run again in 1900. In 1899 The Province became an independent business, with Hewitt Bostock retaining a minority interest until Walter Nichol bought him out in 1901. In 1904, he was appointed to the Canadian Senate and became the leader of the Liberals there in 1914.  In 1921, he was briefly appointed the minister of public works in William Lyon Mackenzie King’s first administration. In 1922, he became the speaker of the Senate. In 1925, he was a Canadian delegate at the sixth assembly of the League of Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

In 1930, the year Hewitt Bostock died in Monte Creek, Bulman Bros. Ltd. of Winnipeg bought out BC Printing & Litho Ltd. They had printed a wide variety of material, including postcards and salmon can labels. From the printed samples that still exist, Bulman Bros. showed a similarly varied client list: picture postcards from the 1930s, a 1959 campsite map for British Columbia, apple crate labels for the Salmon Arm Farmers’ Exchange and even a school exercise book. In 1938 Thomas L Kerr carried out alterations to the building for the business, which closed in Vancouver in 1962 (and in Winnipeg in 1993).

In recent years there have been a variety of businesses in the building, with office space on the upper floors and an art gallery and coffee bar now replaced by an Italian restaurant.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E09.07


Posted 4 April 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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