Author Archive

Arlington Rooms – East Pender Street

This beige rooming house with a diamond red pattern of brickwork seems to advertise the architects from the design. The diamond pattern was the trademark of Townsend & Townsend, a British-born father and son partnership with considerable success in the five years they were in the city. The exact same pattern was on the Rialto Hotel on Granville, and 322 Water Street among many others. However, that’s not what the 1912 permit says. It says that P J Bennett was the owner, and the builder, but E Beam, contractor designed it. That’s very odd, as Mr. Beam designed a few houses, which he usually built, often for himself. This is the only apartment building he was shown as having designed. Mr. Bennett is also an unlikely builder – the only P J Bennett in the city at the time was a Main Street barber called Peter J Bennett who lived at 549 Jackson. He was almost certainly the developer, as he was involved in a court case in 1913 related to this lot, between Peter John Bennett and Dominion Tobacco.

While it’s possible, but seems unlikely, that Mr. Bennett learned how to build, it looks as is Mr. Beam ‘borrowed’ Townsend & Townsend’s signature design of brickwork. That would mean Mr. Bennett was the developer and Mr. Beam the contractor and designer. (The ledger of Building Permits is pretty clear on that). We can find no evidence that the Townsends were involved, and they left Vancouver in 1913.

Peter John Bennett was from Sweden, and would have been about 45 when this was built. He had arrived in 1891, with his wife, Lena, and they had a daughter, Agnes, in the year after they got here. We found him successfully in the 1901 census, but he was more of a problem in 1911 because he was listed at John P Bennett. All the other details about the family remained the same; for once none of then tried to shave a year or two off their age.

Although the rooms were built in 1912, they don’t show up in the street directory until 1914. There’s a 1912 advertisement for them in the Vancouver Sun, and in 1913 Patrick Meagher was shown here – ‘bartndr’ at the Europe Hotel. They were called the Norden Rooms, run by Helen M Whitten in 1914, The Liverpool Rooms in 1915 (with no named proprietor). In 1918 identified as ‘Chinese’. Downstairs the Chinese Independent & Presbyterian Mission occupied the storefront until the early 1920s. In 1921 the owners Griffiths & Lee carried out $1,000 of repairs, and the Chinese Mission made minor changes in 1925.

The address in 1924 continued to say ‘Chinese’. In 1926 there a new proprietor, J McIntyre, and a new name; The Star Rooms. The name stuck around, although Mr. McIntyre didn’t; by 1929 the description had switched to ‘Japanese’. It must have been confusing at times, as there was another Star Rooms on Main Street, and a third on Powell Street. That confusion continued into the early 1930s, when all three rooming houses had Japanese proprietors. In 1932 this one was run by T Nishi, clarified as T T Nishikawa later in the 1930s.

Once the Japanese were forced to leave the coastal parts of British Columbia two of the three Star Rooms had Chinese proprietors; in this case Wong Hung took over. In 1949 there was new proprietor, and a new name – the Arlington Hotel, run by Paul Chubocha. Within a couple of years Max and Peter Nelson of Haney had taken over and renamed the building as The Arlington Rooms. In 1957 the main floor was advertised as ‘warehouse for rent with front office’. Our 1978 image shows almost no differences from the appearance of the building today, when the Chinese Community Library Services Association occupy the main floor and basement, and there are still 30 rooms with shared bathrooms on each floor upstairs. The property was offered for sale for $2.8m and sold in 2018.

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Posted 13 May 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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East Pender Street – 200 block, north side

 

This view of Chinatown dates from 1972. It’s only down the street that things have changed (with a new building hidden by the street trees). At this end the buildings are the same – although there was more activity fifty years ago than there is today, and more businesses have closed now that the COVID pandemic has affected the area.

Closest to us on the right is the East Hotel. It was designed by S B Birds for Lee Kee, a Chinese merchant, and opened in 1912 as the Hotel Reco. Beyond it down the hill are two 25 foot wide buildings; 279 E Pender was built in 1928, and 275 is from 1949, although its design suggests it’s older. The building that was here earlier was probably part of Carl (or Charles) Schwan’s estate; a hotel owner and part of a prominent family of bar and hotel keepers, he died in 1915. He owned a building a little further to the west, 265 E Pender, in 1914. The 1972 image shows that it had started life as a house, with a shop front added when Dupont Street (as it was then) changed from a residential to a commercial street. There was also a house on 269 E Pender, the lot with a single storey retail unit in 1972.  Chinese merchant ‘Sam Kee’ (the name of the company run by Chang Toy) owned 275 E Pender in 1924.

Beyond those stores are two more narrow buildings redeveloped in the 1970s. We looked at them in an earlier post – they were developed in the period where new structures were adding ‘Chinese’ design elements like green glazed tiles.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-448

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Posted 10 May 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, East End

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Robson and Howe, looking west

We’ve had to wait to post this view of the 800 block of Robson for the completion of the new plaza, replacing a temporary closure that was tested over the past couple of years. Now paved with stone to match the Art Gallery plaza to the north, (although without the busy pattern), it’s reopened just in time for the summer.

The ‘before’ shot is dated to somewhere between 1980 and 1997, but we can pin that down better. The frame of the building under construction is 800 Burrard, designed by Eng and Wright Partners and completed in 1983. That would suggest this was taken around 1981.

In front of the office tower is Mayfair House, from 1980, and the two mid-rise buildings to to south are the Wedgewood Hotel from 1964, designed by Peter Kaffka, and Chancery Place, completed in 1984. On the right is 777 Hornby, designed by Frank Roy and completed in 1969. We’ve seen it in an earlier post looking north on Hornby, on the far side of the plaza. He’s a relatively obscure architect, and we assume based in a different province, as Thompson Berwick Pratt and Partners were supervising architects. He got his architectural training at the University of Manitoba, and his degree in 1950. The Archives have a 1967 brochure for the building, which is the only way we know the designer.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-929

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Posted 6 May 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

Unit block – West Pender Street (2)

The Arco (on the left of the picture) started life as The Patricia Lodge. It’s a six storey building developed by John Walker, who hired Braunton and Leibert to design it in 1912. J F Langer (who lived on Woodland Drive) built the $53,500 investment, with a reinforced concrete frame. We looked at the buildings on this block in an earlier post, but at that point hadn’t worked out who John Walker was. We think we have pinned him down now, having sifted out a series of John Walkers who were labourers, farmers and other unlikely candidates for an investment like this.

John was born in Clarksburg, Ontario in 1873. He appears in Vancouver in 1903 as a clothing merchant, with a store on West Cordova and living in rooms on East Cordova. He added a second store for a while on West Hastings in 1904, and he lived on Melville, then in rooms at the Board of Trade (probably above the saloon of the same name). In 1906 he returned to Clarksburg to marry Carrie Hartman who was 7 years younger. The western provinces were obviously a little unfamiliar to the registrar, who identified John as a merchant in Van Couver. The couple moved to a house on Nelson Street in the West End and John had just one store again at 74 W Cordova.

In 1907 he branched out into a new line; real estate brokerage. Like many other merchants, he opened an office, initially as Walker and Dresser, and in 1909 with Daniel Campbell. That year his clothing store was taken over by David Hunter. Business must have been good during the 1910 – 1912 boom years; John invested in this building and Daniel Campbell built his own rooming house in the same year on East Cordova. However, like many other real estate businesses, things went badly for Campbell-Walker as the Great war added to the recession that had already hit the economy. The 1915 Government Gazette lists a number of lots where they had failed to pay the appropriate taxes, and where they were in arrears. John appears to have moved out of Downtown. His family was growing; a son, John, was born in 1914 and a daughter, Kathleen, in 1916 (whose records seem to end at some time after the 1921 census).

In 1920 John appears to have been in a partnership with Adam Wallbridge. John Walker represented the owners of the Princess Mines, a copper deposit on Texada Island. In 1921 the family had returned to the West End, to the Felix Apartments, and John was listed as a partner in Walker and Robinson (with George Robinson) on West Pender. This was a return to familiar territory; a high-class tailoring business in ‘The Store with the Yellow Front’. John had survived the war years well enough to move to a $7,000 house he commissioned on Angus Drive, designed by W M Dodd in 1921. The family lived there until 1939, when they moved to Surrey. At the age of 66 John and Carrie moved to Newton, in Surrey, where Walker’s General Store was established. Carrie was 89 when she died in 1970, and John was just short of his 102nd birthday when he passed away in 1975.

The Patricia Lodge opened in 1913, with Mrs L E Pomeroy running the operation. Several long-term residents moved in, paying $3 a week. Travelers could stay for $0.75 a night. Unusually for a Vancouver hotel, there was no bar.

In 1921 there was considerable damage to the building following a fire. The manager, M S Cot, dropped a key down the elevator shaft, and went down to the basement to retreive it. Lighting a match to see his way, there was a large explosion. Water leaking into the basement was mixed with gasoline coming from the Central Garage to the west.

In 1936 the new (and current) name was adopted; the Arco was initially run by A B Janousek, and during the war by Bill Chan and Wong Oak-Laing. The Arco became a typical run-down rooming house over the years, with the Two Jays cafe on the main floor (featured in two different episodes of the X-Files). In 2007 BC Housing acquired the building, and it was closed for a while for renovations and repairs, reopening as welfare rate non-market housing managed by Atira.

The large Wosk’s furniture warehouse in our 1978 image was initially a clothing factory operated by the Original Blouse Co. Built in 1950, there’s an approved scheme to turn it into office space with two added floors of residential rental units, but the devlopers have put the building on sale rather than construct the project.

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Posted 3 May 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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East Hastings Street – 1100 block, south side

There are three early buildings here, and we can pin down the development permit of both the apartment buildings. 1168 East Hastings is the apartment building on the right of the group next to the parking lot. It was built in 1911, cost $10,000, and was owned and designed by McPherson & Ross. Unfortunately, there seem to be no other references to ‘McPherson & Ross’ to help pin down who they might be. There were several McPhersons involves in real estate, and even more Rosses, but none listed in partnership.

The rooms, when they opened in 1912, were The Caledonia Rooms, and there were classified ads throughout 1912 mentioning hot and cold water in each of the furnished room, as well as steam heat, from $2.50. (That’s probably a weekly rate). In 1913 Mrs M. Logie was running the rooms. Success for the rooms was elusive; in 1915 Mrs. Gibson instructed an auction of “the residue of the contents of this well – known establishment, comprising I5 neat dressers, in good condition, iron bedsteads complete, wool blankets, sheets, bedspreads, feather plllows, comforters, pillow slips, centre tables, carpets, chairs, gas ranges. Mission oak sideboard, oak extension table, 20 yards heavy cork linoleum, miscellaneous effects, to be sold entirely without reserve.” Magdalene S Gibson was shown as proprietor of the rooms that year. She was Scottish, married to William Gibson, a machinist, and in 1911 they lived on Pender and had three sons at home as well as four lodgers.

On the end of the block today’s address is 1190 East Hastings. The first building on the block had been a 2-storey building built on the corner as early as 1903, numbered as 1888 E Hastings. It wasn’t occupied until 1905, when Douglas Gold, a grocer opened his store. The 1903 permit for the $1,000  store and dwelling was to John J Harrison. By 1908 Charles Levers was running the grocery, while at 1172 E Hastings there was the home of an engineer. In 1911 at 1182, the store on the corner was listed to John Stothart and Mrs M J Harrison lived upstairs, 1188 (to the west) was Richard Gosse living over a branch of Pat Burns East End Meat Market chain. The street directory identifies her as Mary Harrison, widow of John. John died in 1909, aged 54. The census lists her as M J Harrison, aged 54, from Ontario. There were ten roomers listed; five with two residents, and her son who was 17 and recorded as Glover J Gurrias.

As Mrs Harrison had carried out $1,500 of alterations to the frame of her building in 1911, (and fortunately we know from the recorded legal lot that it was the corner building) we assume that’s when she created the rooming house we see today. Why her son would have a different name, we’re unsure, (it looks like it was an error), but we can find Glover Harrison with his parents, John J and Mary Harrison, in the 1901 census, when he was aged 7. He had two sisters, Jennie, who was 13 and Apple, who was 12, both born in Manitoba. John was 45 and from Ireland, and was a teamster. Glover’s christening shows he was John Glover Harrison, born in July 1893, and his parents were John Joseph Harrison and Mary Jane Davidson.

The numbering was totally confusing for many years, with the 1912 Insurance map showing the corner building as 1882 and 1892 E Hastings, the two storey building to the west as 1888, and another house set back next to that as 1172. (The newly completed Caledonia Rooms hadn’t been given a number at that point). We are assuming that Mrs. Harrison’s building stayed where it was built, and she lived in the same building, but the irregular numbering created some confusion. She carried out more work on the building in 1922 and in 1925, and the building was described as office/ store and numbered as 1182. The street directory didn’t reflect the fact that the numbering was messed up, so ran the entries sequentially. Mrs. Harrison lived over the shop on the corner in 1915, when it was occupied by Thomas Brewis’s grocery store. Next door at 1888 the meat market and Richard Gosse were still here. In 1911 he was living here with his wife and two daughters. Mrs M A Brown ran a grocery underneath the Caledonia Rooms.

Mary Jane Harrison died, aged 82, in 1935. She was buried in Mountain View Cemetery, and her death notice said she was born in Stratford, Ontario in 1853. When he died in Mission, Glover Harrison was aged 81, and divorced. He had been born in Victoria, and was recorded as Glover Noble John Harrison. His sister Jennie was Jennie Little when she died in 1966, and Apple Beckett, who had been born in Winnipeg, and married in 1910, died in 1968.

Mary Harrison was still living on the corner in 1930, and the building was now called the Harrison Block, with 10 rented rooms (5 of them vacant that year). Vernon Bakery and Vernon Fish and Chips occupied 1192, the retail units below. Next door at 1188 E Hastings Burns & Co still ran a meat shop, with C C Taylor living upstairs. In 1940, following Mary’s death, Mrs. J B Little – her daughter, Jennie, was running the rooms, which had been changed back to six apartments, one of which she occupied. The corner had become Shoprite Stores, a grocers, and at 1188 Mr. Taylor was still living over a meat market – now Sterling Food markets. The Caledonia Rooms were now (confusingly, in terms of geographical accuracy) known as the Vernon Rooms, with a sub Post Office and N D Campbell’s grocery store on the main floor. In 1950 both the Vernon Apartment and the Harrison Apartments were listed. Sperling Food and Rex Grocery were operating in the stores.

Our 1978 image shows the Vernon Apartments were still in business, and with no retail use. The meat shop had a printing business operating, and on the corner was the Rex Groceteria – self-serve grocery. Today there are still marginal retail uses in the corner store and its neighbour operates as artists studios. Upstairs there are now 32 rooms, known for a while as Nortel Lodging House. The Vernon Apartments are still operating, and was recently sold as a ‘character rooming house’ with 30 units. The details failed to mention its reputation for illegal activities including drug dealing and residents with a record of firearms offences.

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Posted 29 April 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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East Hastings Street – 800 block, north side

This is the north side of the 800 block of East Hastings around 1965, looking eastwards from Hawks Avenue. Only some of the surprisingly modest buildings remain today. Several of the 2-storey buildings date from the 1950s, and one from 1923 for Bowman’s Storage, designed by Maurice Helyer. There was only one significant (three storey) rooming house on the north side of the block, nearly at the end, at 873 E Hastings. It was designed by Parr and Fee, cost $20,000, and was built by E Beam for E and W J Beam – and was one of the earliest buildings on the block.

Eli Beam was born in Ontario in 1853, one of at least 9 children in a Mennonite family. In 1881 he was still in the township where he was born, Bertie, in Welland, where he was working as a farmer. He was married to Maggie, and they already had three children. He may well have been in Seattle in the late 1880s; In 1889 The Blaine Journal reported “Mr. Eli BEAM, from Seattle, has been in Blaine this week looking over the field for establishing himself in the drug business at this point. He has bargained with our merchants for their stocks of drugs, and says he will be ready to open up a first-class drugstore here in two weeks. His store will be built near the school house, where he has purchased two lots.” By 1890 he was in Victoria, working as a builder and contractor. He built two houses, (still standing today), one for his own family. His wife, Maggie died that year of blood poisoning; she was only 34. She had been Margaret Rock, and they married in 1876. The census in 1891 showed he was a widower with five children at home, and the youngest two, aged 7 and 8, had been born in the USA (supporting the idea that he was in Seattle).

He won the contract to build the Ancient Order of United Workmen hall in 1894, but was bankrupt four months later. The Colonist reported “Eli Beam, contractor, of this city, has assigned to John Fullerton, of 101 Government street, his real and personal property, in trust for the benefit of creditors.”

In 1900, the year he moved to Vancouver, he had a patent for a cutting tool, with two separate blades. A year later his census listing shows three of his children still at home. His son William, who he was in business with as a builder, his daughter Amy, and another, Ina, who was married to Walter Brown who also lived at the same house, along with four lodgers (two of them carpenters, and one, Lucius Brown, an American advertising agent). Two other daughters had left home, Lola who married that year aged 17 and Mary, who was 21. She was married in Whatcom in 1909.

In 1901 William Beam built a frame and sash factory on East Hastings, and in 1904 on Prior Street. In 1907 ‘The Beam Manufacturing Company was established, acquired William’s factory and built a sawmill. In 1907 it was reported that “Mr. E. Beam and Mr. and Mrs. L. R. Bentson have returned from an extended tour of Eastern Canada and Southern California”. In 1909 Eli extended the frame and sash factory on Prior Street. The Daily World reported a conflict with the City; “A letter was read from the assistant city solicitor that he had given the Beam Manufacturing Company notice to vacate the south end of Gore avenue by the 11th. This concern claims that it has a lease, given two years ago, but has never paid any rent for the use of the street end. They have erected their mills across the street and filled out over the tide lands belonging to the city.”

The 1911 census showed Eli as a factory owner, living in a house he had built on Semlin Drive, with two employees, C S and Willa Ned, who were American. William lived near Trout Lake. That year Eli also built a Victoria building, The Mount Edwards Apartment House, and designed and built an apartment building on East Pender which was an investment by a Main Street barber. William J Beam was living with his wife Jessie and two young sons, Bertram and Wallace, and was shown as owner of the sash and door factory. William and Jessie Rock had married in Michigan in 1905, although she was from Canada (and perhaps related on her mother’s side of the family)..

Eli Beam died on 5 February 1914, aged 61. William was shown as divorced when he died in 1946.

The building opened in 1913 as the Melrose Rooms run by Ellen Bullock, who lived on West Pender. Within a year they changed to the Villiers Apartments, managed by B B Lawler. In 1915 Mrs J H Mallett took over, and advertised 2 room suites at $12 a month. In 1920 C P Anderson was running them, and in 1940 J Anderson. In 1950 W Donald and Mrs Z Connell were in charge, and A M and S Fox in 1955. The building was known as Fox’s Apartments when it was demolished, some time in the 1970s, replaced in 1984 with a 3-storey commercial building that has recently been refurbished.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-21

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Posted 26 April 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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612 East Hastings Street

This modest apartment building was replaced in 1988 with Shon Yee Place, a Chinese senior’s residence with 72 1-bed apartments. Designed by Davidson, Yuen and Simpson, it was designed for The Shon Yee Housing Association. The external insulated sealing system used, in common with many condo projects of the period, failed in a relatively short timeframe, requiring a make-over in 2009 to remediate and provide a more effective rain screen.

The apartment building that it replaced had been designed by E E Blackmore for George Simons in 1910, and D G Grey built it for $13,000. In 1916 George was shown living here, and in 1918 the building was named in the street directory as Alliston Apartments. In 1913 one of the suites was offered for rent, ‘Furnished 4-room suite, with bath’.

We assume the George Simons who developed this is the same one who was living further east on East Hastings, in 1921. He was aged 56, living with his wife Sarah, who was 7 years younger, and three sons, Alexander, Juilius and Isadore. The family were Jewish, and George was from Austria, as was Sarah. Alexander, who was 19 in 1921 had been born in England, but the two younger sons were born in BC. Records for the family are elusive, but Alexander was married in 1924, and the record shows his mother had been Sarah Simpson, and he had been born in Manchester in 1902. His parents place of birth was also shown as Manchester, not Austria. Alexander was shown as Presbyterian rather than Jewish.

Before this building was constructed, the family lived here, so presumably in the house that sat on the site. George had a business on West Cordova, repairing umbrellas – clearly a lucrative business in Vancouver. He was the only umbrella repairer listed in 1909. In 1911 he had moved (logically so that this apartment building could be constructed). The local press that year reported his offer to build a tram line from the terminus at the time to Port Moody. Mr. Simon was described as ‘a capitalist of Hastings Townsite’. One report mentioned he had ‘large holdings’ on East Hastings. His offer was to construct the line, and then sell it on at cost, plus seven percent interest, once the dispute between BCER (the rail company) and the City of Burnaby was resolved. “Mr. Simons was well backed by the property owners and residents of North Burnaby, as most all were willing to assist him in the construction of this line, as this district is rapidly developing and the need of a car line is so imperative that the people do not feel that they can longer do without it.

We believe George Simons died in 1939; he’s shown living on East Hastings that year, and Sarah was still there a year later, listed as a widow. That year shows this building as The Howard Apartments, with 11 units. The name change came after 1923, although the directory listed it briefly (and we suspect inaccurately) as The Harrod Apartments in 1924. This remained an apartment building, with 11 tenants to the point when it was demolished in the 1980s to make way for the Shon Yee development.

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Posted 22 April 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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East Hastings Street – 300 block, south side

 

There has been one building replaced since our 1978 image was taken. On the far left is an SRO Hotel, the Hazelwood Hotel. It was built in 1911, and designed by Thomas Hooper for Sanford Snider and Mr. Hooper himself. It was bought by B C Housing and comprehensively restored six years ago.

Next door was a house, built before 1900, (and so too early to trace the builder easily) that was replaced by the Dragon Cove rental apartments (with just six apartments) in 1982. The two storey building to the west was rebuilt in 1978, and has just two apartments – originally there had been a house here built by W J Beam in 1901. The three-storey Jordan Rooms to the west were built in 1909. S Goranson owned the store and paid for alterations in 1911, but George A Dobson apparently owned it, and paid for a brick addition costing $1,200 that year, and more in 1922. There is a George A Dobson who was a carpenter in 1911 and a millhand in 1921. G A Dobson had a $3,700 development approved on East Hastings in 1908, during a period when the details of projects have been lost, but that’s likely to be when he built this.

In 1911 George was living with his parents, Francis and Esther, who were both from Scotland. They had two other sons, and a daughter living with them, as well as a granddaughter, Jean, who was 4. Frank was retired, and George wasn’t just a millhand – he was the mill supervisor, and he had obtained permits to alter their home on East Pender. He was living with his parents and siblings ten years earlier when Frank was an engineer, and George was working at BC Sugar as a carpenter. George Allan Dobson married Maud Keane in Huron, Ontario in 1904, but she died in September 1908, aged 30 and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery with a substantial granite marker inscribed ‘Maud Annie Keane, beloved wife of George A Dobson’. The family lived nearby on East Pender, and the Daily World reported in October “We are favored with Instructions from Mr. G. A. Dobson to sell the contents of his home, including 2-piece parlor suite, covered In silk, center tables, reception chairs, oak extension table, set of dining chairs in oak, leather seats; sideboard, Singer sewing machine, etc. ; four bedrooms, all completely furnished; kitchen utensils, garden tools, eta Goods on view morning of sale.”

George’s brother Alvin was 34 when he died in 1918 in Vancouver, and his sister Maggie died in 1955. George was 73 when he died in 1941. He was buried with his late wife, and the inscription “DADDY” Margaret Jean Keane, born in 1907, was single, and aged 76 when she died in Vancouver in 1984.

In 1911 the newly completed Lincoln Rooms were on the upper floors, run by Mrs. F Ryall, while Swan Goranson’s grocery was on the main floor. He was still there in 1919, but upstairs was now the Burnaby Rooms. By 1922 they had become the Dundee Rooms. Swan Goranson, who had arrived in Vancouver in 1888, and opened his first grocery store on East Hastings ten years later. He married, and had twin sons and then a daughter, born in 1913, There were many Scandinavians in the area; Swan’s children spoke only Swedish until they started at Seymour School. Later the family moved to Kerrisdale, and in 1924 Swan gave up the store and ran one in Ioco in Port Moody, with a tobacconist opening here. Upstairs by 1930 the name had changed again to the Jordan Rooms, and that name has stuck. There are just four rental units, two on each floor.

To the west is the First United Church, completed in 1964 and designed by James Earl Dudley, and soon to be redeveloped, but originally the location of the the East End Presbyterian Church.

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Posted 19 April 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, East End

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East Hastings Street – 200 block, south side

Here are three buildings with the clearly labelled F Morgan Building on the right, at 244 E Hastings. For once, the Heritage Statement for this building helps pin its development down. “Built in 1910 to a design by architect W.C. Stevens, the F. Morgan Building had a commercial outlet on the main floor with lodging above. From one side of the building, Frank W. Morgan, a successful businessman, operated the Empress Pool Hall, which continued under a succession of different names until the 1930s.

Unfortunately, it looks as if the statement is only partially accurate. F Morgan did obtain a building permit for a $25,000 building here in July 1910, and W C Stevens was the architect. Mr. Morgan carried out some minor alterations a year later. However, the street directories don’t show anyone called Frank W Morgan. There was a Frank Morgan living with his aunt, but he was only 20, and there was another who was musician in a theatre. Even more confusing, the street directory doesn’t seem to acknowledge the existence of an Empress Pool Hall, at any time, in Vancouver.

The strongest possibility is Frank Morgan who was 46 and in 1911 lived with his wife Caroline, who was, like him, from Ontario, and aged 28. Despite his age, he appears in the 1911 census to already be retired. He was Franklin John Morgan, and he continued to be involved in real estate through the 1930s. He died in 1952, and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery. His death notice said “Mr. Morgan was born in Port Colbourne and came to Vancouver 65 years ago. In the early days of Vancouver he operated a bathhouse and boat rental at English Bay and later was in the real estate business. He was also, for a time, in the Oriental rug business. He was a talented artist specializing in oils and water colors and wood carving as hobbies. Mr. Morgan leaves his wife. Caroline; one brother, C. D. Morgan.” Caroline was his second wife; in 1901 he was shown married to Annie, who was English, but they divorced in 1903. Records suggest he married Caroline in San Francisco in 1904.

In 1891 he and his brother Claude (who was a barber – in 1910 he owned the Savoy Barber Shop), were listed living in Vancouver with their parents, Daniel and Sarah. His father was a street contractor, described in the street directory as Captain D Morgan.

In 1913 another of Frank’s hobbies was revealed; his collection of oriental rugs was auctioned off, valued at $20,000. Caroline Morgan died in 1965, and is also interred in Mountain View.

There was also a successful merchant and developer in the city called Frederick W Morgan. In 1911, with his partner, William Kilroy, he developed a large hotel on Granville Street. Unfortunately all the contemporary records on the Morgan Building refer to ‘F Morgan’ so we don’t know for certain which is correct.

Next to the hotel is the Rickshaw Theatre – these days (until the temporary closure due to Covid 19) a live music venue. In our 1978 image it was still the Shaw Theatre, opened in 1971 to show Chinese movies. It was designed by Phillip Harrison for the Shaw brothers (Sir Run Run Shaw and Tan Sri Runme Shaw) who owned a movie empire, based on Hong Kong. Their Vancouver movie house was state of the art, with dolby sound and cinema-scope screens. As demand for kung-fu movies ebbed, the theatre was closed in the mid 1980s. It reopened as a live music venue in 2009, featuring both touring bands and local music.

The Savoy Hotel is the tallest in the row. On the main floor is the Savoy Pub, with cheap beer and live music, where bands that hope to one day play a venue as big as the Rickshaw get their start. It was approved in 1910 as a $26,000 rooming house, designed (supposedly) and developed by D H McDougall. There were a lot of McDougalls (and MacDougalls, and McDougals) in Vancouver, and in 1911 both Donald H MacDougall and Daniel H MacDougall were retired, so either could be the developer. Although the Province newspaper and the clerk at City Hall both recorded McDougall, the census shows D H MacDougall, from Ontario, whose profession was real estate, and his wife Margaret living on Parker Street, and the street directory says he was Daniel H MacDougall. Their son Percy, who was 26 was living with them. He died in 1913, aged 27, and his mother’s maiden name was listed as Margaret Rankin. He had been born in 1885 in Maryborough, Wellington, Ontario. Margaret was born in 1860, in Ellice, Perth, Ontario and Daniel in 1855 in North Easthope, Perth, Ontario. Daniel married Maggie Rankin in 1884 in Mornington, Perth, Ontario and at the time he was a farmer.

We can find the family in 1901; Dan McDougall was living in Vancouver with Margaret and Percy in the census, and the directory shows Daniel Howard McDougall was proprietor of the St. Clair Lodging House, 41 East Hastings. This building first appears in 1912 as ‘new building’ with the Hotel Victor upstairs, run by Mrs. Josephine Huckell. The name was switched very quickly and by 1918 the Victor Hotel was run by John Wright. By 1925 it had become the Victor Rooms, and by 1930 the Savoy Hotel run by E Bourgoin.

In 2017 the Savoy saw a murder case, when a man and a woman were arrested for the shooting of a 62 year old resident. The man was convicted, and the woman acquitted, but police seized $117,000 in cash and a substantial quantity of cocaine, heroin, fentanyl and methamphetamine from the room. This was not the first time the hotel was in the news. In 1939 the hotel was scene of a murder when resident Woo Dack, a Chinese merchant, was bludgeoned in his room with a piece of wood by a 17-year-old, one of three accused robbers, (two men and a woman) who stole $9.

In 2007 BC Housing acquired the hotel as part of a portfolio of buildings in an attempt to retain SRO rooms in the Downtown Eastside. In 2009 it reopened after $3.5m of renovations and repairs.

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1145 Robson Street

There aren’t many large office buildings on Robson Street, but this one has been around over 70 years. It received a makeover in 1986, when it got a post-modern appearance designed by Downs Archambault, and a new name as John Robson Place. Our 1974 picture shows it as it was completed in 1948, when it became the Unemployment Insurance Commission offices. Over the years other government departments were also located here, including Indian and Northern Affairs. 

The Vancouver Sun announced the project in 1948. “SIX-STOREY BUILDING FOR ROBSON STREET Preliminary work has begun on a six-storey, $375,000 office building for Alvin Estates Limited at 1145-1155 Robson, between Bute and Thurlow. The building is reported to be for occupancy of a government agency. Contractors are Allan and Viner Construction Company. Swinburne A. Kayll is architect and F. Wavell Urry is consulting engineer. Plans show a six-storey reinforced concrete building with 99 feet frontage and 131 feet depth. Entrances are to be finished in marble and glass block. Provision is made for two passenger elevators.” The picture shows that they actually built seven floors.

These days the space is occupied by a number of businesses; software developers, accountants, a mining company, a travel agency and management agencies and now has retail units at street level

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-332 – 1100

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Posted 12 April 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, West End

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