Maxine Motel – Bidwell Street

We looked at the early years of this West End building in the previous post. Initially developed in 1929, the facade we see today was built in 1936 and 1938, designed by Thomas McArravy and Ross Lort. A further southern addition was added some time after 1939, but before 1954. It was very shallow, as behind it was 1233 Bidwell Street, an early house on the block that had been bought by the building’s owners in 1929.

They were Maxine MacGilvray and her husband, Ivor Bebb. The married in 1928 and became partners in her already expansive beauty products and salon business. The depression in the early 1930s meant a trip to the beauty salon was a luxury many women chose to cut out, and the business suffered. There was also a Beauty School here, training many of the young women then recruited to work in the beauty salons.

In 1940 the US census shows the couple were living in Washington, in Seattle, where Ivor was shown as manufacturing cosmetics for his beauty shop, while Maxine was shown running the shop. Their ages and places of birth were recorded accurately – Maxine was from Wisconsin, and Ivor was 10 years her junior, aged 36, from Wales, (although their advertising had Maxine from Beverley Hills, and Ivor ‘of Paris and London’).

They were still travelling back to Vancouver for their business here. In 1939 “Gaily colored streamers and large green shamrocks decorated the reception-room of the Maxine School of Beauty Culture on Friday evening, when the juniors of the school entertained at a dancing party for, the graduating seniors. Guests were received by Maxine and Mr. Ivor Bebb, president and vice-president of the school, and during the evening prizes were presented to several students.” The house at 1223 Bidwell still showed I. Bebb as resident.

In 1940 Ivor Ewan Bebb became an American citizen, and the application shows he was born near Welshpool. His wife, Max Elwy Bebb was born in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, and Ivor said he had moved from Vancouver to Seattle in 1930. In 1941 a new business, the Max-Ivor company, was incorporated in the US and continued to operate until 2001.

In 1942 the Maxine Beauty School was shown operating here, but a year later this was the Maxine Apartments – eight in total. The house at 1223 was still listed too. In 1943 The Max-Ivor Motel, on Highway 99 at 6188 4th Ave in Seattle was opened.

In March 1943 the tenants in the Maxine Apartments got their rent reduced on appeal from $45 to $37.50, and George Hodgson, a shipyard worker, was given immediate notice to quit. He successfully sued G L Gillette and Maxine Ltd, joint owners of the property, after Mr. Gillette, who acted as janitor, removed the door to his suite and refused to put it back on. A month later things had escalated: “the tenants were asking for a second reduction in their rent, alleging that the management is neither providing heat nor collecting garbage. The landlady, her manager, and at least four tenants all had something to say” The case had been before the judge six times, and two or three times in police court – and once in the Supreme Court. In 1944 Maxine tried to get the building back from her lessee, Joseph Cuillerier, (who was already in prison awaiting extradition to England on embezzlement charges), arguing he was operating the building as an apartment hotel, rather than a rental building. She initially failed, but then succeeded on appeal. In 1945 1223 was still shown, but now with 4 suites rather than as a house, with Ivor as resident in Suite 1. In 1946 the building had 12 apartments, and the house was no longer listed, so that seems likely to be when the southern alterations and small addition were made.

In 1947 Ivor E Bebb successfully rezoned 5 lots in Seattle to permit a mobile home park, although he continued to keep his apartment in Vancouver, presumably commuting over the border to manage their interests in both Seattle and Vancouver. By 1948 this became the Maxine Apartment Hotel. You could rent a one, two, or three-room apartment with tiled kitchens and private bathrooms daily, weekly or monthly.

Maxine Bebb died in 1952 at the age of 58. We often struggle to find people in the census, but remarkably Ivor and Maxine were surveyed twice in the 1950 US census. In the first record Ivor said he was 50 (adding four years to his age) and born in Wales while Maxine knocked 11 years off her age, to 45, and chose California for her birth state. In the other record Maxine admitted to being 53 (which was only three years off) and born in Wisconsin, while Ivor was shown as 46 (which was true), and was shown born in ‘Wales, England’ (which would have upset anyone from Wales). Their days in the beauty business had apparently ended; Ivor was running an auto court, while Maxine was manager of an apartment hotel. Ivor took a trip to Britain in 1953, following his wife’s death.

In 1960 the Hotel here featured unexpectedly when Joseph Corbett, Jr., aged 32, listed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list for kidnapping and murdering the 44-year-old chairman of the Coors Brewing empire, was captured here. At the end of October, a Vancouver resident thought she saw the man in the West End, and a policeman recalled seeing Corbett’s car outside the Maxine. His landlady identified ‘Mr. Wainwright’ from his photograph, and a combined FBI and Vancouver police team arrested him without incident.

Corbett, who was from Seattle had been convicted of shooting a man in the back of the head in 1951, which he claimed was self-defense. Initially in a maximum-security prison, his good behavior, saw him transferred to minimum security, from which he then escaped in 1955. Adolph Coors had left for work in February 1960, but never got there. His bones and clothes, with two bullet holes in his back, were found in a remote mountain dump in September.

Corbett’s booking shot from 1960 showed a neatly dressed man with tinted glasses. He was found guilty in 1961 and sentenced to life imprisonment. Released in 1980, he only gave one interview, in 1996, where he maintained his innocence. With a recent cancer diagnosis, he killed himself with a single shot to the head in his Denver apartment in 2009, aged 80. He left no note, and there was nobody to claim the body.

From 1964 to 1970 Ivor was president of the Jefferson Park Lawn Bowling Club in Seattle. He apparently remarried; when Olaf Stevens died in 1955 his obituary referenced a daughter, Mrs Ivor E Bebb of Seattle, and a granddaughter, who was born, we believe, in 1954. Ivor was aged 85 when he died, in Seattle, in 1989, a year after the Max-Ivor hotel had closed. Grace Rena Bebb, the last person associated with the Max-Ivor company died in Renton in Washington in 2001.

In Vancouver, in 1965 the motel was owned by Maxine-Beach Lodge Limited. In 1968 Mrs. Margaret Finigan, a tenant (28) lit a cigarette while gas was apparently leaking from the stove and suffered third degree burns (and didn’t improve her apartment’s decor). The apartments were still here in 1972, but not for much longer.

In the mid 1970s an architect, Vic Pimiskern, acquired the building, and ran his practice here as well as opening a restaurant here called Maxines, specializing in ribs. In 1978 Denny Boyd, a columnist in the Sun told a moonshine story (but didn’t suggest there were any of the elusive tunnels we mentioned in the previous post). “Maxine’s young charm students were often shocked to find the carcasses of dead sheep hanging in the basement. Maxine used to extract tallow from them to use in the preparation of her own line of cosmetics. It is said that she also had a productive still operating in that basement lab, cooking up prohibition moonshine for her many friends“.

In the late 1980s this was Fogg n Suds on The Bay, becoming Mescalero, a Mexican and south-west themed restaurant in the 1990s, then Balthazar’s, and finally Maxine’s Hideaway, when the owner spun some attractive but totally fictitious stories about tunnels, rum-running and bordellos.

In 2013 the Alexandra, a condo and market rental building designed by Henriquez Partners was developed by Concord Pacific and Millennium, incorporating the facade of the original Maxine Beauty School, now serving as a coffee shop.

Image source: SFU postcard collection msc130-5071-01

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Posted 13 October 2022 by ChangingCity in Altered, West End

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