631 Seymour Street

This image taken in 1974 is labelled 621 Seymour, but The Clubhouse Restaurant & Coffee Shop was 631. Upstairs was a rooming house, adressed as 621 and called The Bay Hotel.

The building opened in 1912 as The Roslyn Rooms, designed, built and owned by builders Purdy & Lonergan, who obtained the permit for the $33,000 investment in 1910. This appears to be their only substantial investment, (assuming it really was built for their ownership). The location, and the presence of hot and cold water in every room were the main selling points.

Purdy & Lonergan had been builders in the city for many years. William K Lonergan married in 1902 to Kate Ashe ‘from the east’ (actually Halifax, NS), and lived in a house on West Georgia. He was born in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia in 1870.  A year later Charles Purdy married Elizabeth Boyd in Revelstoke, although his bride was from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Charles was also from Yarmouth, where he was born in 1868. William Lonergan was only aged 60 when he died in 1930, and Charles Purdy was 77 when he died in 1946. We think they both arrived in 1902, joining Charles Lonergan, William’s brother, who was already in the city, working for the Hudson’s Bay Company.

The rooms didn’t really get mentioned until 1917, when the Sun reported “Mrs. E. S. Gardiner, residing at the Rosslyn rooms, 631 Seymour street, has asked police assisiance to trace her husband. While coming to the city about three weeks ago, Mrs. Gardiner stopped off on the road to visit friends, and while with them received a letter from her husband telling her he was going north about 40 miles, but that he would return here in a few days. Since then she has not heard anything of him. Gardiner is aged 45, 5 ft. 10 in., 145 lbs., clean shaven, of medium complexion, with grey hair. When last heard of he was wearing brown corduroy pants, blue serge vest and blue woolen sweater.” Strangely, there appear to have been no follow-up story.

In 1931 the valuation of the rooms, and the St Regis Hotel to the north were challenged by the Hudson’s Bay Company, who owned the properties (presumably with the idea of further expansion of their store). The Roslyn Rooms were operating upstairs, run by C C Cook, and the store on the main floor (numbered as 633 Seymour) was Share Bros, a paint store.

In 1946 The Sun carried a story about the Rooms: Fight Ends In Arrest

A charge of damage to property as the result of a fight in a downtown rooming house was laid against Mike Burns, 21, no fixed address, late Saturday. Arrest or Burns followed a report to police by Mike Kohoot, 621 Seymour, who declared that early Saturday he heard someone in the hallway of the rooming house and went to investigate. He said he found two men In the hallway and during the ensuing struggle Burns plunged through a plate glass window in the front door. According to police, Burns sustained several cuts on his hands and face and was treated at St. Paul’s Hospital before he was taken to the city jail.

In 1948 the numbering had altered so that the Roslyn Rooms were 621, run by J Klimchuk, and the store was Pratt’s Beauty Supplies and their cosmetics laboratory. They had renovated the store, and added a moderne storefront, although rather misleadingly the Sun reported that “A handsome modern building with four floors has just been opened at 631 Seymour Street by Pratt’s Beauty Supply Co. Ltd., moving from a few doors up the street.” Mrs H V Pratt ran the business, and the remains of her storefront can be seen under the Clubhouse Restaurant sign.

A restaurant had opened by 1964, and were constantly advertising for waitresses and kitchen help. Chris Levas ran it, (as well as the Argo Coffee Shop and Zenith Cafe). The Club House had Zambra, a reader, available in 1971. She replaced Madame Golar ‘from the East’ who was here in 1969. In 1970 there was a fire on the fourth floor of what had now become the Bay Hotel. In 1977 the restaurant was still offering psychic readings with Mrs Veesk (cards, teacups and wax).

By the mid 1990s the rooms had closed, and the building was boarded up. In September 1997 Harold Munro wrote an extensive story in the Vancouver Sun that started “Ryan Beattie followed the amber glow down the darkened hallway of the vacant building to find his friend Newfie asleep on a mattress that was in flames. He was wrapped in a sheet and that was on fire, too,” said Beattie, 19, who was among 15 young squatters living in the five-storey building in the 600-block Seymour when the fire started at 7:30 a.m. Sunday. Beattie helped Newfie to his feet. Flames raced down Newfie’s jeans, melting the rubber toe of his sneaker. Fire singed his goatee, but he got out with only a small burn on his right palm. No one else was injured in the fire. They tried to hurl the burning mattress out the third-floor window, but only succeeded in spreading the fire the wall.” The shell of the building was demolished later that day.

Two years after the fire, the owners of the adjacent Gotham Restaurant added a 40 seat patio garden, which is still there today.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1095-01043



Posted 27 March 2023 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Tagged with

%d bloggers like this: