Author Archive

West Georgia and Homer Streets looking west

We shot this image about a year ago, and it’s already out of date. The building on the left has already been demolished, soon to be replaced by a new and very unusually shaped office tower. It was 418 West Georgia, and we looked at its history in an earlier post. It was built in 1913, designed by Sharp and Thompson, and was initially a car dealership. From 1917 to early in 1919 it was the Stettler Cigar Factory – described at the time as ‘the largest cigar factory west of the great lakes’. In 1920 it went back to being a car dealership, which continued for many decades. In the 1970s it was, at different times, a restaurant and a gallery (in this 1980s image), before Budget Car Rental took over in the 1990s.

Today there’s a vacant lot to the west, currently parking for car share vehicles, that was also used as a car dealership for many years. Beyond that today is the Telus Garden office tower, recently sold as an investment. It replaced a 1950s parkade, which in turn replaced a 1938 commercial building, which was built where Brandon Autos had a gas station before that – and where the First Congregational Church had originally been built in 1889, designed by William Blackmore.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-832

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Posted December 24, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Cordova and Granville (2)

This view has already changed, and will soon change even more dramatically. In the 1931 Vancouver Public Library image, the newly completed Royal Bank Building towers over the turn of the century single storey retail, located across the street from the Canadian Pacific station. The bank had acquired the site in 1912, paying $725,000 for the site for their new headquarters. It took them until 1929 to demolish the Hadden Building, (built in 1899) and replace it with their art deco skyscraper – or more accurately, half a skyscraper. It was designed by S G Davenport, a Montreal based architect who was the Royal Bank’s staff architect. Although designed to be built as a wedding cake tower, Vancouver still has only just over half a cake as the eastern second phase was never built. There’s a proposal to add a contemporary tower to the east to define the shape, but not the design, of the original tower. This would also allow seismic improvements to the 1920s building.

We looked at the stores in the foreground in two earlier posts, one in 2012, and one a year later. They were built in 1911 and designed for the Allan Brothers (who also built them) by W P White, a Seattle architect who designed a number of Vancouver commissions in the early 1910s. In 1969 they were replaced by a parkade, seen here a little while ago, and now that structure has been demolished to allow construction of a new office tower that has partly been sold as strata office space.

Posted December 20, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone, Still Standing

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Hamilton Street – 1200 block

There’s a large warehouse on the northern end of the 1200 block of Hamilton Street (in the middle of our 1981 image) that’s no longer standing. It’s probably the largest building no longer in Yaletown, (lost to a fire) replaced in 2002 by the Opus Hotel.

In 1912 W O’Neil & Co were shown here for the first time. We think this must be a warehouse associated with William O’Neil’s building supply business, based on Seymour Street. Canadian Pacific Railway released the land for development around 1910, and the entire area built up in only a couple of years. While we can identify almost all the permits for the Yaletown warehouse buildings, this location has proved elusive.

The O’Neil firm was founded in Vancouver in 1898,. Among the items they sold was stained glass, initially acting as an agency for the noted Canadian stained and art glass firm of Robert McCausland of Toronto. By 1910 it appears that the company employed artisans in Vancouver, and the company’s 1913 catalogue said “We employ a competent corps of artists and are in a position to contract for and execute anything in the Art Glass line, from simple geometrical lines to the most elaborate memorial and ecclesiastical work. The following pages give just an idea of what we are continually doing, and we have an extensive portfolio of beautiful designs in Leaded Lights to select from, or we can submit designs for special work. Hand painted designs executed and fired in our own Kilns.” William Nelson O’Neil was from Brampton, Ontario, and unlike many of his business colleagues, who were initially in the West End, and later Shaughnessy, he chose to live with his wife and daughter in Fairview.

By 1920 this had become a storage warehouse – Mr. O’Neil was also president of the Western Warehousing Co, who operated the large warehouse, although by the mid 1930s it had become the Christie Brown biscuit warehouse, and by the mid 1940s the Hudson’s Bay Company were using the building as their service department.

Next door, the 3-storey building was developed for Woodward Department Stores Ltd, and designed by Smith and Goodfellow. The $25,000 warehouse and stable was built by McNeil & Campbell. It was later used by the national Furniture Co as their warehouse.

In 1981 there was a vacant site next door; in 1996 Raymond Ching designed a 12 unit condo building called Greenwich Place. It’s not completely clear from the street directory, and there are relatively few early images of this street, but it appears that the residential building might have been the first structure built here.

Next door we can just see the edge of a five storey warehouse that supposedly only cost $20,000 to build, designed by W J Kerr for J & A Phillips, and built by the owners in 1912. Today it’s a strata commercial building with Rodney’s Oyster House downstairs.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E13.20

Posted December 17, 2018 by ChangingCity in Gone, Still Standing, Yaletown

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Crown Building – West Pender Street

We have looked at the north-west corner of Seymour and Pender twice, seven years ago, and again in 2013. The building on the corner was the Delmonico Hotel, built in 1889 as the Windsor Hotel. It opened in September, described in the news as ‘a new and costly undertaking’. “On Monday next the Windsor Hotel will open for business under the management of Messrs. Brocklesby and Allen, both late of Hotel Vancouver. These gentlemen are thoroughly familiar with the business, and propose to run a first – class house. The table will be second to none in the city and the rooms, well furnished and comfortable, will he kept in the best style. The bar will be well stocked with wines, liquors and cigars, the finest that can be supplied, and no pains will be spared to make the Windsor the favorite resort of the permanent and transient public. Its close proximity to the railway station and the steamers is a great point in its favor, and one tired travellers will highly appreciate.” The partnership lasted all of two months; by November Mr. Brocklesby was in sole charge.

The building had been announced in 1888, and the Daily World identified the developer, the enterprising Dr. Whetham. He commissioned N S Hoffar to design another investment property in 1888, but we haven’t found an architect listed for the Windsor. He was a qualified doctor, but had abandoned medicine for real estate development before he arrived in Vancouver in 1887.

Next door to the west was the Crown building. It was six storeys of white glazed brick, with centre-pivoted windows, which was the signature design of Parr and Fee, who designed a series of almost identical buildings on Granville Street; most are still standing today. The Crown was built in 1907, and the Daily World reported the architects, and the cost of the building ($75,000), as well as the developers, Martin & Robertson. They were importers and suppliers of dried foodstuffs, and we looked at their history in connection with their Water Street warehouse, built a few years earlier than the Crown.

Robert Martin was born in 1851 in Ontario and in 1901 lived in Vancouver with his wife Lydia, who was English, with their four children, and their ‘lady’s help’, Caroline Watson, and Jin, the domestic. Arthur Robertson was a Scotsman who was seven years younger than his business partner, and looking after the company’s other warehouse, in Victoria. They had been in business from the city’s earliest days: in 1894 they were advertising in the Daily World as agents for JOHNSTON’S FLUID BEEF – which was claimed ‘Eclipses All Meat Extracts and Home-made Beef Tea’.

Their investment building was occupied in multiple small suites, with a wide range of professional services. Architect J H Bowman had his practice here in 1911. A year later the Canada Lumberman and Woodworker magazine was published from here, and contractor Walter Hepburn had his offices here in the same year. Robert Martin had a number of other commercial investments in the city, including one a block east of here.

When Ernie Reksten took this picture in 1968 the buildings were about to be demolished, to be replaced with a parkade (with retail units on the main floor). It was completed in 1969, and looks like it should pass it’s 50th birthday, although Downtown parkades are becoming valuable redevelopment opportunities, and it seems unlikely that it will last for many more years.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 2010-006.010.

Posted December 13, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1500 Main Street

The City has hundreds of locations that were once gas stations, although today the remaining service stations are becoming increasingly rare. Here’s one on the corner of Main Street and Terminal Avenue, seen in 1940s. It’s Al Deeming’s Union Oil gas and service station. The leasee was Albert W Deeming, and we wondered if he might be the son of Albert Deeming of North Vancouver, who ran a fruit ranch, but according to his marriage certificate Albert W was the son of Caleb James Deeming. However, the 1891 Census shows both Albert and James Deeming were brothers, and had arrived from England, living in Mountain District (Nanaimo) and working as miners for the New Vancouver Coal Co. In 1911 Albert W was aged six, and his father had become a farmer in Delta.

This gas station first appears in the street directory in 1924, as do the industrial buildings in the background which once housed Neon Products’, the BC Valve Company and Massey Harris’s agricultural implement showroom beyond the gas bar. The building further east dates from 1929. The buildings are still there today, although now they are wholesale and retail warehouse buildings for furniture and floors tiles.

In the 1950s the Terminal Service and gas station was run by L E and Mrs M S Love. There’s a 1980s image in the Archives showing that the gas station was still here when the Skytrain was under construction across the street. By then it was a Gulf gasoline station, with a new canopy. Today it’s the site of the city’s first Temporary Modular Housing, intended to help meet the current homelessness situation. Built in a matter of days, it has 40 modular apartment units that can be demounted and reassembled on another site when redevelopment plans come forward for this part of False Creek Flats, currently owned by the City of Vancouver.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1184-1734

Posted December 10, 2018 by ChangingCity in False Creek, Gone

Howard Hotel – East Hastings Street

We looked at this Downtown Eastside hotel in an early post that featured it when it was named the Empire Hotel. In this 1935 image it was called the Howard, with no indication in the street directory of who was running it. There were several retail units, with Gaining Tailors at the eastern end, then a cleaners – BC Hat Cleaners, and next door Dick Sun, who was a merchant tailor making suits to order. In the window of the hotel entrance was a poster for the Beacon Theatre.

It was built in 1913 and designed by H A Hodgson for Seabold and Roberts. The building permit suggests it was built as apartments for $60,000, although it appeared in the 1913 street directory as the Hotel Seward, and by 1914 had already had the name changed to the Howard Hotel, run by W P Roberts. In 1918 the Daily World reported the result of arbitration on the rent for the hotel, and illustrated how property values crashed from their peak in the early 1910s. “Judgment in the arbitration to determine the rental value of the Howard Hotel was handed down by the arbitrators, Mr. Justice Clement, F. G. T. Lucas and J. S. Gall, the rent being placed at $75 per month. The lease, which started In 1912 at $500 per month, provided for a readjustment at tho end of a five-year period.”

There turns out to have been far more to this story. In the early 1900s this was a house, owned by Dr Eady Stevenson, who had retired from Victoria. In 1901 Dr. Stevenson was shown aged 63, living alone, born in Ontario. He had practiced in the US for many years, having been the second doctor to offer Homeopathic remedies in Los Angeles. He had also lived in Oakland, and had arrived in California travelling overland with a party searching for gold.

Before moving to Vancouver he lived in Victoria; in 1885 he published ‘Religion or Rum: or, The Influence of Religion on the Use of Alcoholic Liquors as a Beverage’. The book was based on one of his lectures; he travelled around speaking on a variety of topics, and practiced temperance, although ‘not intemperantly’.  He died in 1909, leaving a will that had some unusual requirements. Although some of his bequest went to his brother and nephew in Toronto, he appointed trustees, headed by the mayor, who were responsible for finding developers willing to build on his two East Hastings properties, with at least a four storey commercial structure. The rent would be reset every five years, and the money was to support “Vancouver women of good character, who were not connected with any church.” His relatives argued (unsuccessfully) that this showed that he was of unsound mind and guided by spiritualism. “The Judge held that the evidence brought forward in no way established these allegations, and said that Dr. Stevenson’s sanity had been unjustly attacked.”

The hotel was built where Dr. Stevenson’s house was located, and initially brought in rent of $600, which in turn was distributed at the rate of $20 to 20 women in Vancouver and four or five outside the city. This helped the city’s relief department for six years, until the rent collected was dramatically reduced following the arbitration referenced above. Eventually the trustees sold the property that had been developed, the Howard Hotel, but the remaining site held by the Trustees had never been developed and tax arrears mounted, with no income to cover those costs. In 1923 the land was auctioned to cover the outstanding tax bill.

The Howard is still standing today as a privately owned SRO Hotel.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Hot P75

Posted December 6, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Capitol Theatre – Granville Street (2)

We saw an earlier version of the Capitol on Granville Street in a post we wrote several years ago. Here it is in a different iteration with a later façade, with the Capitol Theatre still pulling in the patrons. They were watching ‘Wait until Dark’ starring Audrey Hepburn as a young blind woman, Alan Arkin as a violent criminal searching for some drugs, and Richard Crenna as another criminal, based on a play first performed a year earlier on Broadway (in 1966).

We’re not sure what ‘Prince Eugene’ sold, in the somewhat rundown 1940s looking building next door, with Basic Fashions as its neighbour, and we don’t know the name of the business to the south, although it looks to have been another clothing store. To the south of those was a building still standing today (and recently looking even better with new less prominent retail canopies). This is the Commodore Ballroom, originally developed by George Reifel and designed by architect H H Gillingham, opening in 1929. In the basement was, and still is, the Commodore Bowling Lanes. There were always retail stores underneath the ballroom facing Granville, and they have changed on a regular basis. In 1967 we can see Canada’s largest shoe retailers, Agnew-Surpass, a business that finally closed in 2000 (although gone from here earlier). The Meyers Studios were next door, a photo studio specializing in portraits, while Dean’s Roast Chix, under the red awning, was presumably a restaurant.

The Capitol was closed and redeveloped in 2006, and the link across the lane removed. A new series of double-height retail units were developed to replace the theatre entrance and adjacent buildings, designed by Studio One Architects.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-50

Posted December 3, 2018 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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