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1147 Howe Street

This 1933 image by Stuart Thomson shows Fred Cheeseman’s car dealership on Howe Street. Fred had garages in other locations; in the 1920s F G Cheeseman was owner of the Strathcona Garage on West 37th Avenue. In 1936 he built a new reinforced concrete garage in an art deco style on Seymour Street. Fred’s dealership was first here on Howe Street in 1931, as Cheesrman-Franklin, with Francis G Cheeseman shown as manager; Fred Cheeseman had already retired, and either died or moved away after 1930. We haven’t been able to find anything to tell us where Fred came from. Although he was working for Begg Motors from 1917, he seems to have been missed in the 1921 census.

Franklin was the make of cars they initially sold; before this they had been sold at Pacific and Granville. There were 253 North American automobile manufacturers in 1908. That had fallen to 44 by 1929, principally through mergers. Eighty per cent of output by 1929 was by the ‘big three’; General Motors, Chrysler and Ford. Auburn cars, sold here in 1933, hung on a bit longer – production ceased in 1937, along with Cord and Duisenberg Motors, controlled by the same company. Based in Auburn, Indiana, the art deco manufacturing plant is now a museum of the company’s production.

We know what the garage looked like inside; that was photographed as well. The ramp on the right has rollers and a gearbox under the rear wheels showing that it is a Bendix-Cowdrey brake testing machine.

By the late 1930s Oxford Motors had taken over these premises, agents for Morris, M.G, and Flying Standard cars, all built in England. Today the Pacific Cinemathique is here, an art cinema built in 1985 as part of a 13 storey office building designed by Eng & Wright.

CVA 99-4337 and  CVA 99-4336

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Posted November 12, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Hunter Block – West Hastings Street

We caught a glimpse of this building when it was on an early hand-coloured postcard. It was lost in 2004, (the same year that we shot the ‘before’ image) after a fire destroyed the structure. The building dated back to 1890s, developed by the Hunter Brothers who also built a smaller building on Granville Street in 1892. Samuel and Thomas Hunter (and not James, as some surprisingly inaccurate official records suggest) were contractors and developers. Samuel arrived first, in 1891. Thomas was here in the same year, and in 1892 he got married. As the Daily World reported: “Wooed and Married. In Homer street Methodist church on Thursday evening Thos. Hunter, of Hunter Bros., contractors, was married by Rev. Robert R. Maitland, assisted by Revs. E. Robson and J. F. Betts, to Miss Jennie Simpson, daughter of Theodore Simpson, Seymour street. The groom was supported by his brother Sam and Jonathan Rogers“.

The wedding record shows that the brothers were from ‘Wilfred’, (actually Wilfrid, near Brock) Ontario, and Jennie had been born in New Market, also in Ontario. When she died in 1937, she was recorded as Jane Maria Hunter, and census records also record her as Jane, although her marriage certificate and the newspaper report called her Jennie. The 1911 census found the family headed by Jane’s father, Theodore Simpson, (born in England) and Jane and Thomas with their 17 year old son who was named after his grandfather.

Samuel was a year older than his brother, and they had been part of a large family headed by William, from Nova Scotia and Elizabeth, who was Irish. At 15 Sam was already working as a labourer, and when he first arrived in Vancouver worked as a machinist. Only a year later the brothers were building a modest commercial building on Granville Street for a local landowner, John Twigge, and a year later partnered with Jonathan Rogers (who was at Thomas’s wedding) on a commercial building on Powell Street. By 1896 only Thomas is listed in the street directory, and it would seem that Samuel (who would have been aged about 30) may have died in 1895; there’s an 1896 newspaper report that says ‘the heirs of the late Samuel Hunter of this city, received $2,000’ in an insurance payout.

The building was therefore only associated with Thomas Hunter. There’s a permit approved in 1902, designed by Blackmore and Son, costing $15,000 to construct. Thomas was the builder, and he stayed in Vancouver, and continued to act as a contractor and builder for many other projects. Several were investments built for his own portfolio, including about a dozen frame houses and an apartment building on Nelson Street in 1909. He also built a Parr and Fee designed commercial building on Cordova for his father-in-law in 1903, and there was a Parr and Fee commission for a three storey block in 1906, also on Hastings (and it’s possible that the Blackmore commission was never built, and this was a Parr and Fee building).

In 2004 we photographed the building early in the year, only a couple of months before the local press reported the fire that destroyed the building: “The three-alarm fire raged through a two-storey building at 311-317 West Hastings, gutting the Blunt Brothers, a marijuana-oriented cafe that billed itself as “a respectable joint.” Smoke from the blaze on the edge of Gastown could be seen as far away as White Rock.

Vintage clothing store Cabbages and Kinx was also destroyed, as was Spartacus Books, a long-standing left-wing bookstore.”

As historian John Atkin noted at the time: “The building that has major damage [311-317 West Hastings] is a wonderful building with an amazing sheet metal facade to it, lots of pressed tin.  It was very rare in Vancouver because the original overscale pediment that sat on top of the building was still intact.  Those are one of the first things to fall down in windstorms or whatever, and here it was intact.”

Today the site remains one of the most obvious redevelopment opportunities, with some parking, and the odd movie shoot occupying the space.

Posted November 8, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Ellesmere Rooms – West Pender and Homer

The Ellesmere Rooms were unusual because they weren’t clad in fireproof materials, even in the 1940s, although that was the what the fire by-law generally required. The Ellesmere had been around a long time – the name was on the 1912 insurance maps, but it was noted as ‘formerly Douglas House’ in the Archives, and in 1901 it was shown as ‘Elesmere – Boarding’ and was three storeys on Pender and two behind.

The Ellesmere Rooms were described in J. S. Matthews Early Vancouver (Vol. I), 1932 as ”a tall wooden building…which is now used for cheap stores and offices. It was the first large ‘boarding house.” In 1889 it was Douglas House, run by Mrs. J M Douglas. The census shows that Mrs. J M Douglas was a 45-year-old widow in 1891, born in the USA, but not long after that entry she seems to have disappeared from the city. In the 1891 census there are a series of names associated with 439 Homer, headed by F Yorke, Stevedore. There’s a picture from 1890 (or thereabouts) that shows Mr. Yorke on the porch of the premises, on the hill of Homer Street. (He’s third from left, wearing the derby hat). He wasn’t just a stevedore, he ran a stevedoring company in Moodyville, across the inlet. By 1901 he had married, had moved to Victoria, and was a master mariner, with a tugboat business.

The other residents of the building had a variety of jobs, including clerks, a real estate agent, the manager of the BC Iron Works and Monsignor L’Abbe LaChasse. Alterations were carried out to the premises around this period, designed by N S Hoffar.

In 1894 it has become Elsmere House, and in 1896 Elesmere House, shown as being run by  Mrs. L Walsh. A year later it is listed as the Ellesmere, which is how the spelling stays, run by Mrs. Welsh. In the 1901 census Mrs. Loirisa Welsh was aged 60, a widow, still running the Ellesmere rooms with her daughter, Florence, who was 20. Mrs. Welsh had arrived in Canada in 1888, but her daughter arrived 5 years later; both were born in England. Mrs. Welsh had ten lodgers, including Emma Shand, a photographer and Stanley Kirby, a rancher.

At some point after the 1890 picture the entire building was lifted up so that retail stores could be inserted along Homer and Pender Streets. This looks to have been done in the later 1920s, although there seem to have been addresses here in office use earlier than that period.

This image is said to have been shot in 1948. On the corner you could leave your films for processing at the newsagents and tobacconist that had been Bert’s Cigar Box since the early 1930s. There was a watchmaker next door, on West Pender, and a laundry to the north, along Homer Street. In between was a locksmith, ‘Garry’s Lockeyist Shop’, while to the north was the Hollywood Café, and Lacey’s Sign Works. Those businesses were located here in the 1930s, and were here in 1940, but rapidly closed during the war. The Ellesmere Rooms name disappeared after 1938 when it was listed as vacant, and from the look of the building, and the window boxes, we think this was more likely taken in 1938, not 1948. In 1943 it was reported that a city inspector had condemned the building as a boarding house. The shops were still occupied in the building in 1950, though you can see a for sale sign on the building in a Walter Frost image taken that year, and the boarding house looks to be in a pretty poor state. There was a parking lot here for many years once the building was removed, and then in 1993 Central City Lodge was built, offering 112 rooms of supportive housing with 24 hour care and a meal service.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P642 and Bu P141

Posted November 5, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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First Baptist Church – Burrard Street (2)

We saw a very poor ‘before’ image of the First Baptist Church on Burrard a few years ago. Here is a better image, that captures the church before the dramatic change that’s coming to this location. The church has partnered with Westbank to create an expanded church hall, non-market housing, and a luxury condo tower at the back of the church that will pay for a full seismic upgrade of the building, estimated to cost over $25m.

The church was completed in 1911, designed by Burke, Horwood and White in a Gothic Revival style. It replaced an earlier church in Downtown., that in turn replaced one further east. In the image, from 1920, there were no street trees in this stretch of Burrard Street.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-1437

Posted November 1, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Hotel Abbotsford – West Pender Street

We’ve caught a glimpse of the Hotel Abbotsford in an earlier post, but this is the first look at the hotel’s history. It’s rare in being one of the few early hotels that still serves that function – the vast majority have been converted to single room occupancy rental rooms. It was developed by J M McLuckie, a Scottish builder and sometime developer. His contracting business had its yard here until the end of the Great War.

Mr. McLuckie designed and built this $70,000 hotel in 1911, with completion in 1913. When it opened in March of that year, it was described in the Daily World as a $300,000 investment, which may have been an exaggeration (or the building permit might have been wildly optimistic). The report noted that Mr McLuckie had designed the building himself, and had erected over 200 other buildings in the city. The hotel also contained “an elegant cafe and grill, a continental chef, and It will be conducted as a first class hotel on the European plan. It was furnished throughout by the Hudson’s Bay Company, under the able direction of Mr. Joseph F. Marino. Mr. W. Drinnan. experienced in hotel management, will conduct the new establishment.” Walter Drinnan didn’t keep the job long; by 1914 F J Wallingford had taken over.

In December 1912 Mr. McLuckie had been unable to obtain a licence, as there were none available to transfer, but his application was allowed to be held over until a new liquor board had been appointed, and we assume he was successful at that point as there’s a postcard showing the hotel’s ‘refreshment parlor’.

J M McLuckie remained owner of the hotel until his death in 1927, and it was sold by his son in 1929. The picture was taken at some point a few years before it was sold. It still stands today as the Days Inn Hotel, missing from the city’s Heritage Register but still a fine example of a 100 year old building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Hot N40, SFU Digital collection MSC130-5919-01

Posted October 29, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Dunsmuir and Howe – sw corner (2)

This corner was first developed with the Badminton Hotel, developed in 1889 and designed by William Blackmore as the Manor House Hotel. By 1936 when this picture was taken the hotel had been replaced by a building quite a bit smaller, and much less ornate than the hotel. Through the early 1930s the hotel building was still standing, but had been converted to apartments, almost all of them occupied by women. In 1936 it appears as ‘new building being erected’, (as it was in this picture) and in 1937 the new occupants are revealed: The Vancouver Mortgage Corporation were on the corner in 601, H G Willard sold lamps and decorations next door, and J Sewell sold men’s furnishings in the third store. They had already added their ‘Men’s Shop’ sign above their doorway.

George A Martin was President and managing Director of the Mortgage Corporation. Mr. Martin was Vancouver mayor and sometimes Liberal MP Gerry McGeer’s financial adviser,and a member of the Liberal executive. He was on the executive of a newly formed political party, the NPA.

These days the site is home to the Standard Life Building, a relatively modest 14 storey office tower built in 1977 and (we think) designed by McCarter Nairne and Partners

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str N282

Posted October 25, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Murray Hotel – Hornby Street

The Murray has been on Hornby since it was completed in 1915. It appears to have had a slow gestation – Fred S Murray owned the site since at least 1910, when J A Matheson took out a lien against him for a debt of $115 (probably a typo for contractor J P Matheson). Unless there were two people called Fred S Murray (which is quite possible, although only one was listed in the street directory), he was a teller at the Royal Bank of Canada that year. In 1911 he was living on Denman Street, and a year later he was still there, and shown as being employed by the Real Estate Listing Exchange (appropriately based in the Exchange Building on West Hastings). His 1911 census entry shows he was only 25 years old, had been born in Canada (although no province is indicated) and he was a broker. (Other records show he was born in Bridgewater, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia on 1 March 1886). In 1911 he was already practicing to operate a rooming house, as he had at least seven lodgers in his home.

That year F S Murray obtained a permit for the $65,000 building described in the Daily Building Record as ‘Apartments/rooms; four-storey brick store & rooming house’. E Workman was shown as both architect and builder, and that’s confirmed by an August 1912 issue of Architect, Builder & Engineer, who noted Plans have been filed for a 4-storey brick and concrete store and apartment building, at 1117 Hornby Street, for F. S. Murray, to cost $65,000. E. Workman, 42 18th Avenue E, architect”. (A suggestion, that we initially thought correct, that Sharp and Thompson designed the building is almost certainly inaccurate).

Ernest Workman was trying to reinvent himself after he was arrested in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1907, charged with printing nearly $20,000 in conterfeit gold certificates which he had planned to bring back to Winnipeg, where he practiced architecture. (He stayed in Vancouver for only a couple of years while the development boom of the early 1910s was at its height).

Mr. Murray changed jobs again, presumably as hard times hit the real estate business. F S Murray and Co were shown as contractors, with an office in the Bower Building on Granville Street in 1913 and 1914, and in 1914 Mr. Murray was shown living on Robson Street. In 1915 F S Murray was listed as a traveler with United Paper Products, and then was no longer listed in the city; from references in the city’s newspapers it appears that he went to fight in the Great War. There’s no sign that Mr. Murray returned to Vancouver; after the war he returned to Nova Scotia, where he got married in Halifax in 1923. At that time he appears to have been a surplus dealer.

The rooming house initially never opened; it’s listed through the war years as vacant, and in 1919 Great West Permanent Loan (presumably owners of the building, or at least a financial interest in the property) obtained a $1,200 permit for repairs, to remodel the building for the R. N. W. M. P. (the Royal North West Mounted Police) for their new barracks of the Vancouver squadron. The main floor became stables, with offices in the upper floors. The RCMP use of the building was brief – in 1922 the Murray Hotel was listed for the first time, with Mrs. A W Smith listed as proprietor. Our picture shows the building as it looked in 1925, when it offered furnished rooms. As far as we can tell Fred St Clair Murray moved to California in 1934 with his wife and three children, becoming a US citizen in 1937 and dying there in 1958, and being buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills.

The building has recently had the façade repaired and restored (in conjunction with the new condo building constructed next door), a new storefront has returned the building’s appearance to its earlier design, and the upper floors continue to offer low cost housing as a privately owned single room occupancy hotel.

Image source, City of Vancouver Archives Hot N6

Posted October 22, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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