Author Archive

150 West Pender Street

For 48 years this has been a parkade (seen here in 1974). Built by the Downtown Parking Corporation in 1970, a public/private partnership at the time, today it’s still the same structure (with patches) and now run by the Parking Corporation’s successor, EasyPark. One day this could well be one of the larger ‘land reserve’ sites in City ownership that will see a significant development project replace it.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-256

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Posted December 30, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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646 Seymour Street

Since 1959 this has been a parkade. Developed by the Hudson’s Bay Company to provide parking for the store across Seymour Street, there’s a high-level pedestrian bridge link over the street. In 1974 the Bay’s name was still visible; since then it has become the Parkwell Plaza, now owned by a developer; the Holborn Group.

The 1950s canopies have been replaced, and neither Duthie Books or Purdy’s Chocolates trade here any more, but the stores along the street are still operating, and cars still park above. No doubt in the near future the parkade will be replaced, developing almost all of this block including the Dunsmuir Hotel. When it does, there will have to be a substantial parade underground, as the developers have to provide several hundred spaces for The Bay as well as those required by their own project.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-417

Posted December 29, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Robinson Block – 46 Water Street

Here’s 44-46 Water Street; one of the few Water Street buildings we haven’t covered to date. The Terminus Hotel is to the east, and the Kane Block to the west. It’s known as the Robinson Block, although though there wasn’t anybody called Robinson in the city in 1889, when it was supposedly first completed, who might have developed it. It looks very similar to the Town & Robinson block built around the same time on Carrall Street, designed by C O Wickenden, so he may well have designed this, but it also looks like W T Whiteway’s Ferguson Block, so we can’t be sure.

There’s a report in the Daily World from 1890 of a visit by Mr. I Robinson, an ‘English capitalist’ from London, who had made real estate investments in the city; he seems to be the most likely candidate to have developed the building. He also owned the Stewart House hotel on Water Street, and Town and Robinson, as well as the Carrall St building also developed the Metropole Hotel, where they hired N S Hoffar as architect – Henry Town was another English investor. The Yorkshire Trust had a client with Vancouver real estate investments called Isaac Robinson, so he seems likely to have been the developer. The Daily World tells us he was also a director of the Vancouver City Land Company.

The building was only about 40 feet deep when initially built, and an addition was constructed at the back around 1905. In 1901 a repair permit was issued to ‘Sherdahl’ as the owner, presumably Sven Sherdahl who owned the Dominion Hotel along the street. (That seems to have been around the time that some of Isaac Robinson’s estate was being sold). Numbering on Water Street changed over time, but we’re assuming that the Terminus Hotel was always next door, so we’re looking at the occupants of the building to the west of that. In 1890 the site was shown as vacant, and in 1891 A J Struthers, a commission agent was here (numbered as 36), with the Salvation Army at 38. In 1892 the building was numbered as 42, with both the Salvation Army barracks and T W Clark and Co based here. They were wholesale produce and commission merchants, run by Joseph Coupland who had been running a general store on Seymour Street a year earlier. (Joseph would be elected an alderman in 1895, and was nicknamed by the local press ‘me too Coupland’ for his consistent support for mayor Henry Collins). R S Graham, abook-keeper and teamster Birron Dunamaker were also here. Two years later Charles Rengel and F R Stewart, a wholesale commission merchant were here, and in 1895 the store was again vacant. In 1896 the new tenant was Z Franks, whose business would be here for many years.

Zebulon Franks had been born in the Ukraine the son of a rabbi, but his entire family were killed in 1881 in a pogrom that wiped out a third of the jewish population in his home town, and he escaped to Paris and then sailed for New York. He intended to make for California, but by the summer of 1882 was working in Winnipeg for the Canadian Pacific Railway, which was then being built. He married Esther Blonde in Winnipeg in 1883. Like him, she’d fled Ukraine. Pessie (or Bella) and Sarah (later called Sadie) in Manitoba. Zebulon and Esther arrived in Vancouver 1887 and a third daughter, Rosie, was born in 1888, then Abraham in 1890, Myer in 1894 and Leah in 1895. Esther died soon after Leah’s birth, and Zebulon was left with six children and a business to run. He married Yetta Halperin (born in Palestine in 1877) in 1898, and had six more children in the next ten years, Solomon (known as Sam), David, Robert (sometimes listed as Israel), Miriam, Monte and Annabelle.

Initially Zebulon opened a grocery store on Carrall Street that imported kosher meat from Seattle. On Water Street he ran a hardware and second-hand store that sold stoves, guns, and logging, fishing and trapping supplies, and which served as the first house of prayer for the nascent Orthodox Jewish community.

We know what the store looked like inside from this image from 1902: Zebulon is on the left; his daughter Sarah is beside him. The other gentlemen were identified as Mr. Beecroft, and Joseph Blonde

In 1910 the store moved from here to 101 Cordova, and in 1921 the listing switched from Z Franks to Y Franks, as Yetta apparently took over running the company.

Zebulon died in 1926; all 12 children were still alive, and scattered throughout North America: the obituary notice said “The deceased is survived by six daughters, Mrs A C Fleishman, Seattle, Mrs I Jacobs, Tacoma, Mrs Leah Horowitz, California, Miss Annabelle Franks and Mrs R. Meyers of this city.  Six sons, Abraham, Tacoma, Dr Bob Franks, Alaska and Myer, Sam, David and Monty of Vancouver.”

In 1927, following Zebulon’s death, she was still running the business. Several of Zebulon’s children including Annabelle, Myer and Samuel were working for D Franks & Co, a sacks and barrels business run by son David in Yaletown on Hamilton Street. In 1931 Annabelle was running D Franks, and David had taken over at Mrs Y Franks business on Cordova. Myer was secretary-treasurer of Iron & Metals, and had moved to Shaughnessey. A year later Y Franks and Co moved to Seymour Street, taking over the premises previously occupied by rival stove dealer William Ralph. (They closed in and V A Wardle and Co briefly occupied the building). The company continued to operate from there for decades, adding other locations, and remaining in business today on the north shore. Yetta Franks died in Los Angeles in 1963.

In the 1960s the building was given a ‘renovation’ that obscured the original appearance of the front facade, including stucco applied over the stonework, and replacement of the front facade brickwork and the original windows, seen in this picture from around 1979. Fortunately, in 2006 the building was once again renovated, but this time Busby, Perkins + Will restored the original appearance of the Victorian Italianate design. There’s a store in front, one residential unit above, and a restaurant fronting onto Blood Alley Square behind. Surplus density (for not tearing down and replacing the structure) was transferred to other development sites elsewhere in the city.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 810-134 and CVA Bu P675

 

Posted December 28, 2017 by ChangingCity in Altered, Gastown

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Burrard Street – 700 block, west side

In 1974 this Burrard Street location was yet another surface parking lot. It had been used for commercial parking for over 20 years, and Tilden’s car rental operation was here all that time. In the 1950s Stanley Park Cabs were also based on the same lot. Ten years earlier the cab company was Terminal City cabs, and the Central Burrard Service station sold gas and oil. The Palomar Supper Club was located to the north, off the picture to the right. In 1935 the gas bar was known as the Glencoe Service Station, with the Canadian National Garage sharing the lot. A decade earlier two battery companies were located here; the Battery House and the Willard Storage Battery Co. The building they occupied had been built in 1921, replacing two earlier houses. In 1925 there were two houses on the northern half of the lot. All four houses had first been built before the early 1900s

Today there’s a 1993 building with floor floors of commercial uses designed by Musson Cattell Mackey. The Irwinton Apartments are still standing to the south, and the reclad Burrard Building to the north.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-24

Posted December 27, 2017 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

Dunsmuir Street – 100 block, north side

There’s very little to say about the ‘before’ shot – in 1974 this was a parking lot. In earlier years this was the location of the second YMCA building, which was replaced by a third in 1940. A year later the newly vacated building was adopted for the war effort, with initially the Canadian Government Department of National Defence Support Column moving in, later replaced by the Armouries. After the war the Glad Tidings Pentacostal Assembly took over, staying until at least 1960. Off in the distance, down Cambie Street, there was a Chevron gas station, unusually  located mid-block rather than on a corner.

It wasn’t until 1994 that the site was redeveloped with the Seimens Building – now known as the Amec Building, designed by Aitken Wreglesworth Associates. It was cantilevered out to allow the building’s base footprint to miss the tunnel for the SkyTrain which angles across the site from the nearby station on Beatty Street, and picks up the abandoned Canadian Pacific rail tunnel further west. The tunnel was cut in 1931, to allow trains from the Cordova Street station to move to the Drake Street railyards to be cleaned, supplied and made ready for the trip back to the east. CP stopped using the tunnel in 1979.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-65

Posted December 26, 2017 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

690 Beatty Street

Today this is a pocket park, next to the Drill Hall on Beatty Street. In 1921 Union Oil of Canada obtained a permit for a new $1,500 gas bar here, presumably using an in-house design as no architect was mentioned. The building was first noted in the street directory in 1923, although no name was associated with Service Station No. 163. In 1929 the owners are identified as Roach & Rosbotham: Leonard A Roach and Thomas Rosbotham.  In 1926 Thomas was the attendant at a Union Oil service station, and a couple of years earlier he was an orderly at the Shaughnessy Hospital. In 1931 they opened another service station on Dunsmuir Street.

By 1933 this was known as the Georgia Viaduct Service Station, run by Henry Howe. He ran the same business right through to at least the 1950s, as Henry Howe and Sons.

The new public space, built as part of the Spectrum tower development (sitting on top of Costco) in 2007 featues an artwork by Toronto artists Yvonne Lammerich and Ian Carr-Harris called “Writing to You”. The artwork has two cast bronze sculptures at either end of the pedestrian mews. On one side is a table on tiled ground with a letter lying on its surface with several pages left out. On the other side of the site rests a military trunk on broken ground with a corresponding letter on the trunk. The letters are from over eight hundred that Major Lloyd Augustus of the British Columbia Regiment (Duke of Connaught’s Own) and his wife Mary Augustus wrote to each other every day during the Second World War, while Lloyd was stationed overseas.

The Archives image from the 1940s doesn’t identify the location, just that it’s Harry Howe’s Service Station. There are several other great images shot by Jack Lindsay in 1945 of the gas station, including this one that shows an attendant filling the gas tank of a 1937 DeSoto Touring sedan with British-American (B-A) Premium Peerless Ethyl gasoline.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1184-1748 and CVA 1184-1749

 

Posted December 25, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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564 Beatty Street

Here’s a warehouse on the row of Beatty Street buildings that are, for the most part, still standing after over 100 years. That doesn’t mean they haven’t seen significant change, and this one more than most. It’s a modest three storeys facing Beatty, but has an additional three floors that face the lane at the back. There was a significant grade change here, with a cliff face, and developers took the opportunity to have the back of the buildings at the lower level serviced by rail tracks, and the front by street delivery several floors higher. (The difference increases rising up Beatty Street).

When it was built this was just a single storey structure to Beatty Street. It was built during the period of missing permits, so we don’t know who designed it, but the developer of the $20,000 investment was noted in the press as ex-alderman Jonathan Rogers, who had already built a series of Vancouver buildings, and a few years later developed the Rogers Building on Granville Street.

In 1912 J P Matheson designed the additional two storeys for Robert A Welsh (not Walsh, as the register of Heritage Places would have you believe. It was built around 1907, not in 1909). We assume he’s the same Englishman called R A Welsh who was in Moosejaw;  two brothers, E B  and R A Welsh, settled four miles due west of Henry. “They abandoned their homestead in the spring of 1891 and moved to Vancouver where they became very wealthy“. In Vancouver they had a feed store on Water Street, then opened the Celctic Cannery on the Fraser river. The Celtic Cannery opened in 1897 and in 1902, BC Packers purchased Celtic Island and Deering Island to form Celtic Shipyards. About 25 Japanese families employed in the fishing industry resided in single family homes on the north and south shores of Celtic Island and on Middle Island, known today as Deering Island. Robert was living in the city in 1901, with his wife Mary and daughter Doris. His brother, Edward was also resident with his wife Ruthella. Both brothers were shown aged 35, with birthdays only 6 months apart, so there was an error by one of the recording clerks. Robert soon moved away from the city, although he continued to have business interests here. He used the funds from the sale to BC Packers to buy a cannery in Bellingham in Whatcom County in 1905. He made a profit that year of $25,000, which he reinvested into Alaska with similar success. Edward lived in the West End and became a broker.

The original tenant of the building in 1907 was the Gurney Foundry Co. Ltd., an Ontario stove firm that used this as its B C distribution warehouse. Gurney bought the property in 1913. In 1938, when this Vancouver Public Library image was taken, it was occupied by Metals Ltd. They handled Plumbing and Heating Supplies, Pipe, Fittings and Valves. Clare Bros. Jewel Ranges, Good Cheer and Pease Furnaces, Berry Bros. Varnishes, Arco Boilers and Corto Radiators. Much more recently the building has had a seismic renovation and addition. Unlike other warehouses on the block, rather than adding a lightweight addition, IBI designed a concrete framed 4 storey addition for office use. Combined with a new central elevator shaft to tie the frame together and add rigidity, the new structure built over the original brick wall improves its seismic performance.

Posted December 21, 2017 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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