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 1928 for 14 apartment buildings, all of them except this one in South Granville. There were at least three more apartment buildings in the late 1920s. All the earlier buildings were designed by Enoch Evans, although one in 1930 was a Ross A Lort design. Most were frame apartments, often in the ‘Spanish Mission style’, and together they would have cost 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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