856 & 872 Seymour Street

There are plans to redevelop this modest Downtown site with a contemporary 7-storey office building behind the facade of the 2-storey building, developed in 1926. The Great War Veteran’s Building was designed by A A Cox, and cost $24,000, and was built by Cameron Construction Co. Next door Central Battery Service built the single storey building in 1921 and altered it a year later (it was 864 Seymour then, and 872 today).

The Great War Veteran’s Association had premises in 1919 on West Hastings, but built this new building with an auditorium and offices when sufficient funds had been accumulated. Before it was built there was a house here, divided up into separately leased rooms.

As the GWVA Hall, and then the Canadian Legion Hall branches of different service associations met here, especially during the second world war. After the war other groups hired the hall – including the Ex-tel-o club (we’re taking a wild guess at former telephone operators?), the joint labor-veterans’ committee, and the Northumberland and Durham Society for example (all in 1946). In 1950 thieves made off with 7 cartons of cigarettes and eight cases of beer. The safe was also removed, and the dial knocked off, but couldn’t be opened by the thieves. In the 1950s the Orange Order held the Loyal Protestant Home Tag Day at the hall.

By the mid 1960s references to Legion meetings had almost disappeared. The Vancouver Opera Association took over, and various arts activities started up. Vancouver Guild of Puppeteers performed here in 1965 and the Ballet Summer School was held here a year later. In 1976 the VOA made a loss of $42,000, but that was far less than expected as they had sold the hall for $218,217. The association blamed cost overruns by The Merry Widow, but still had another property at 111 Dunsmuir (for a while). There are no references to the building for several years, but in 1985 a Cabaret Licence was approved, allowing alcohol sales from 7pm to 2am. Club 856 opened up after advertising for cocktail waitress/er and a doorperson.

The club reopened in 1987 as Hollywood North, offering dancing and karaoke in an intimate atmosphere. A 1992 article, describing the bar as one of the ‘the poshest in the city’ noted that the owners agreed that ‘karaoke is dead’ and so allowed Mark Manhattan of The Outrageous Valentinos and partner Tex Rich to open ‘Licorice Whip’ two nights of the week. Early booking for live bands Potatohead, Luna Rosa, The Outrageous Valentinos and Art Bergmann with Short Leash. That version of the club didn’t last long, but Hollywood North continued with a jazz theme. Dee Daniels performed in 1992, not long before pianist Diana Krall was booked. For a short while Central Studios were here – opened in 2019, a Queer owned ‘part assembly space and part art studio, acting as both a production house and a presentation space’, unfortunately timed to coincide with the Covid pandemic.

Next door Central Battery Service was replaced by Holbrook Tires in the 1930, Callender’s radio store in the early 1940s and Seymour Machine Works in the late 1940s. In 1951 Ralph Thoreau, a plumber was based here, and by 1960 the Fairway Golf store, selling bags and clubs at ‘up to 20% off American prices’. In 1980 it had become the short-lived Ne Chi Zu Works Gallery, replaced in 1981 by VIP Collision Repairs and a year later by the Body and Paint Shop Co, who offered to pay the ICBC $100 deductible on car painting. In our 2003 image B Wireless sold Telus cellphones, and today Daily Body Care operates as a massage parlour and spa (not the RMT type). An online review, translated by Google says “Cleanest, tallest in the city center on the place, very friendly staff and a professional massage, come every week”



Posted 5 December 2022 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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