Archive for the ‘Altered’ Category

Hornby Street – 600 block, east side

We’re on the corner of West Georgia and Hornby, looking north, and on the right the HSBC Bank (Canada) headquarters that’s there today is possibly being sold to the Royal Bank of Canada, so the bank and office tenants may change in future. In 1981 there was a cleared site, following the implosion using 136 kg of dynamite of the Devonshire Hotel. It had stood here for 57 years, and took 12 seconds to demolish. (These days that method of demolition isn’t allowed, due to health and safety concerns about the potentially toxic dust that can be generated). We discovered that Coley Hall, who owned the hotel at one time, was also a director of the bank that would replace it.

Designed by Webb, Zerafa, Menkes, Housden and Partners, and completed in 1986, it was built as the the head office of  the Bank of British Columbia. Intended by Premier W A C Bennet to allow more local control for making decisions on loans to BC businesses, it was first proposed in 1964, and granted a charter in 1968. Original plans called for the skyscraper to be in the block behind the courthouse, on a site owned by the City of Vancouver, for a new Civic Centre, before those plans were dropped, (where the new court was later built). When the federal government refused to allow the Province to hold shares in the new bank, the skyscraper was dropped and a more modest new home initially identified at 999 West Pender. As the bank grew, it moved into leased offices in the Bentall Centre.

Following the collapse of two Alberta Banks, in 1986 a CBC program alleged serious management problems, and that in turn led to the bank being taken over by the Hong Kong Bank of Canada in the same year the new headquarters was completed.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W05.17



Posted 27 April 2023 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

Hamilton Street – 1200 block

We’ve seen all the buildings in these two images before, but only from their ‘smart’ side, on Homer Street. Here they are on the working side, on Hamilton, where the train tracks could bring freight cars right to the back door (although the rail access had gone by 1981 when these pictures were taken).

The tallest building, on the right, is known as Murchies warehouse, but it had a much more interesting role before the tea importers moved in, as home to Joseph Kennedy Ltd, one of the city’s busiest rum-running companies. During US prohibition, they exported alcohol ‘legally’, mostly to Central America, but mysteriously the exporting ships never made it all the way on their voyage, but moored up just outside US waters. Their paperwork would confirm that the cargo had been delivered as the manifest showed, but in reality a fleet of small, fast boats would collect the booze, often at night, and then outrun the US Customs. The building was initially developed by J Russell and Donald Gray, who emigrated to Canada from Scotland in 1906. They hired H S Griffith to design the building.

The shorter building to the south, with the eleavtor tower was developed in 1946. Townley and Matheson designed it for Walter M Lowney, a US candy company. In 2000 it became an architect’s office.

The building with the two-storey addition is today also residential, known as The Ellison. It was designed by Sharp and Thompson for George Baker in 1929. We think he was a builder, in which case he knew the area well, as he had built the Gray Block at the end. Howard Bingham Hill designed the conversion which was the first project carried out by the Holborn Group and completed in 2007. Next door there had only ever been a small single story shed before the 1998 ‘Grafton’ condo building was completed, designed by Linda Baker in a ‘warehouse’ style that matches the rest of the block.

Since we took our contemporary images the power supply has been altered, and the poles removed.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E13.11 and CVA 779-E13.12


Posted 20 April 2023 by ChangingCity in Altered, Still Standing, Yaletown

Burrard Bridge looking west

The ‘before’ picture here was taken in 1962, when there had been significant change in West End, but the taller towers hadn’t started to get developed. The last residential building visible on Beach Avenue is Kensington Place Apartments, completed in 1913 at the foot of Nicola Street, and still standing, painted cream, today. The tall tower in the centre of the image with the pointed top is Tudor Manor, a 23-storey tower designed by Paul Merrick and completed in 1989. The two taller towers on the right-hand edge of the picture are Pacific Surf, designed by W D Buttjes and completed in 1967, and Ocean Villa, designed by John Hollifield. It’s on the south side of Beach Avenue, and was completed in 1993

Right on the edge of the water on the left hand side of the picture, the Crystal Pool occupied prime real estate. It opened in 1929, intended to be part of the private Connaught Beach Club, designed by McCarter and Nairne, which was to have squash, badminton and tennis courts, Turkish baths for men and women, a beauty parlour, barber shop, a roof garden and a ballroom. The developer’s timing was terrible, and with an economic crisis in North America the contractors finished the pool, and ended up owning it in lieu of payment, and then lost money through the 1930s, despite various stunts and attractions to try to attract crowds.

The City took over the building in 1940, buying it for $30,000, with $27,106 approved in late 1939 in a plebiscite that just squeaked past the required 60% approval. The Park Board ran it when it reopened in 1941 as the city’s only all-year swimming pool, and immediately ran into conflict because a ‘color bar’ was introduced – blacks and Asians were only allowed to swim on Tuesday mornings. That rule took four years to be removed, despite the introduction of a token additional Monday night Chinese swimming proficiency class.

Although it wasn’t reported in the press, Vivian Jung, Vancouver’s first Chinese-Canadian teacher, protested the rule.  She needed a lifesaving certificate to complete her teacher training, but couldn’t obtain it with the rest of her student teacher classmates. Her organised protest ensured that in November 1945 the Park Board lifted all restrictions on the use of the pool. Vivian taught at Tecumseh Elementary School for 35 years. In 2014, the year that she died at 99, Jung Lane, the lane that runs close to Sunset Beach was named for her.

In our contemporary image, which was taken six months ago, the ‘barge on the beach’ was finally being dismantled and removed. She broke free in a storm in November 2021, and stuck fast on the rocks off Sunset Beach, where the pool had once been located. Efforts to drag her off having failed, the barge took from July until November to dismantle, after extensive investigations of toxic materials. Built in Portland, Oregon in 1966, the 5,000 tonne barge had been converted into a bin barge in 1989, and her owners, Sentry Marine Towing, spent an estimated $2.4m on removing her.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 392-1756


Posted 10 April 2023 by ChangingCity in Altered, West End

The Leslie House, Hornby Street

This is one of Downtown’s oldest houses, although it hasn’t been lived in for many years. It was built by George Washington Leslie, who was listed at different times as both a carpenter, and a plasterer. He lived in the house with his family from when he built it soon after arriving in 1888 (the year he turned 38) to his death in 1924. Family members continued to live here until 1947.

George was born in Cape Breton in 1850, the third of nine children. He married Susan Bethune, also from Sydney Mines (a coal mining town) in 1872, and they started their family of 11 children a year later, when Charles was born, and ending when Susan was 45 and gave birth to Arthur. (Ermina died as a baby). Arthur (who seems to have been known by his middle name, Purvis) and Ernest were born in BC in 1895 and 1891. Life in the new house must have been tough going for the first few years; the water service was only connected in 1896.

George’s home is a rare remaining example of a ‘cottage’ version of a Queen Anne style Victorian house, modified to include some Italianate elements, and it was full! The 1891 census showed all eight children at home, with Charles  already a carpenter at 18, and Emma, who was a year younger, a dishwasher. By 1901 there were still seven children at home, but in 1902 Agnes married Sterling Grieve, and ten months later their daughter, Thelma was born.

In 1903 George applied for a permit to add another dwelling behind the house (identified as 1380 Hornby), and by 1905 Agnes and her family had moved in, with Amy born in October 1905. Sterling was from New Brunswick, and a brakeman for the CPR. They didn’t stay in the lane house for long, and in 1907 a four-week old son, Sterling, died. His father worked in the CPR yards and as a fireman, and the family moved around, but always close to Hornby.

George’s son Harold (also a carpenter) was the next to occupy the cottage, in 1906. He had married Mary Girvan in June 1905 and just over seven months later their son George was born. The family moved to West 12th, and a variety of lodgers moved into the cottage. In 1911 there were still six children at home, including oldest son Charles. He had married Emily Hagenbuch from Victoria (who was 14 years younger) in 1910, and they had a daughter, Adelene, in 1920, a year after George’s mother, Susan had died.

In 1921 Archibald Sloan was shown as head of household in the Hornby house, with his wife Isabella and their children, Pervis, Ruby and Ruby . Isabella’s father, George Leslie was still living here, as were two of her siblings, Arthur and Edith. Son Fred, and his wife Josephine were shown in the street directory living in the cottage, but the census seems to have missed them.

George Washington Leslie died in 1924.

Emily Leslie died in 1929 at age 41; her death was reported in the press, and at the time the family were living on Kitchener street, and she was described as a member of the Pythian sisters. Charles was superintendent of the Burrard Shipyard and Engineering Works. He remarried in 1931 to Ella Gill, who was from Winnipeg. The Sun reported the birth of a daughter a year later, although we haven’t traced any further records. His daughter, Adelaine, was only 20 when she died in 1941, and Charles died two years later.

Ernest Leslie and his wife Clare lived here until they sold the house to Wilhelmine Meilike in 1947. Ernest was a shipwright at the Pacific Drydock shipwright, and his bachelor brother, Arthur Purvis Leslie was living in the lane house that year. The Meilike’s converted the house into an interior design store, with their upholsteror Sid Toren living in the laneway house (until 1955). Around 1967 the house becomes a dress design business, Mano Designs, with the owners living in the laneway.

Umberto Menghi established his Italian restaurant, Il Giardino, here in 1973, and soon added the single storey building next door, operating as La Cantina in our 1975 image. It had been built in 1941, when it was the offices of Townley and Matheson, the architects. In the late 1990s Umbert was thinking of adding a boutique hotel tower to the site, and even obtained a development permit. To clear the site he donated the laneway house to the Vancouver Heritage Foundation. The house was moved to a new location in the West End heritage enclave of Mole Hill in 2002.

Umberto never built the hotel, and eventually sold the site, moving his restaurant nearby. The purchaser was Grosvenor Americas, the North American arm of the Duke of Westminster’s property empire, who applied to build a slim 39 storey residential tower with 224 condominiums. The Leslie House, like the laneway, was picked up and moved, but in this case returned to just around the corner to the Pacific Street part of the lot. Fully restored as a commercial building with period details (but to contemporary code), it was sold in 2022.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-12


Posted 23 February 2023 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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Granville Street – 800 block, east side (2)

We saw another view of this block of Granville in an earlier post. This 1967 image misses the corner with Robson, but shows the Art Deco entrance to the Capitol Theatre – a cinema – that was first opened in 1921 and given several new lives (and entrances) before closing in 2005. The facade on Granville led to a ramp, and staircases, leading up to a bridge over the lane behind; the cinema was actually on Seymour Street. We can’t pin down the installation date of the art deco facade seen here – the latest we’ve found of the original 1921 facade is 1937, and the earliest image of this one is 1943. There was another by the early 1980s, and after the cinema was redeveloped there’s now a double-height glazed retail store in that spot.

Down the street is the Commodore Ballroom, developed by ‘Vested Estates’, a company founded in 1924, and mysteriously described in 1929 as ‘a syndicate whose identity is not disclosed’. In 1928 their name started appearing in the press for their property purchases, and then development activity. By mid 1929 they had acquired at least 14 lots on Granville Street, and had commenced construction at 840 Granville of a 25 foot wide building costing $17,500, designed by architect H H Gillingham. As leases came due they closed the adjacent businesses down, and in early 1930 announced a $100,000 block to add another 125 feet to the south of their 840 Granville building. The facade of the recently completed building was to be altered to match the new building, which would have eight store fronts, a second floor cabaret club, and a bowling alley in the basement, costing $100,000 to build. By December it was complete, and took the name of a cafe demolished for the construction, The Commodore.

The site acquisition took a while, and after demolition had commenced, in January 1930, the premises formerly occupied by Vancouver Oster and Fish Co, and the Novelty Cloak and Suit Co caught fire. The owners of the fishmongers, George Canary and George Zerbinos had given up their lease early, in exchange for a promise of a lease at 837 Granville, another Vested Estates property. However, the lease was never issued, and they sued for nearly $10,000 in damages. At this point the owners were revealed; Harry F Reifel was identified as Vested Estates’ president, and W F Brouham the company’s lawyer. In court, he declined to answer questions about the business, but was required to do so by the judge. The case was dismissed, (and subsequently appealed).

Harry’s father, Henry Reifel, and his brothers Conrad and Jack had come from Germany and established a number of breweries, (not all immediately successful). By the early 1920s they had a range of interests in alcohol production; breweries as well as distilleries, based in BC. They had weathered the relatively short-lived prohibition in the province and the new restrictions in the US offered new business opportunities.

Faced with new significant payments that each Canadian liquor exporter had to pay, they helped organise Consolidated Exporters, to pay a single fee covering almost all the Canadian rival operators. They shipped locally produced and imported beer, wine and spirits past the US, with paperwork showing Mexican and South American destinations. There were a variety of freighters heading from Vancouver and Victoria, and they often returned empty without ever actually reaching their destinations (although the ship’s paperwork often told a different story). Instead the freighters would hold station outside US waters, with their cargo transferred to smaller, faster boats that could outrun the US coastguard ships. Often those were based in the US, but some were also owned by the Reifels.

Consolidated owned a number of ships, but the Reifels also owned two different shipping businesses, Northern Freighters and Atlantic and the Pacific Navigation Company. Their City of San Diego was probably the first ‘mother ship’ to set off southwards, in 1922, and they continued running alcohol south, supplying the US, through to 1933. They were careful to pay all the duties on exports that the Canadian government levied, but their profits were massive. In only a few years the owners of Vested Estates had an excess of cash – (much of it no doubt untraceable). Henry’s sons, Harry and George each built grand mansions, Casa Mia and Rio Vista and in 14 months in 1928 and 1929 spent at least $1,115,000 on buildings on Granville Street.

By 1931 the company had assembled 19 lots between Robson and Nelson, and their assessment for taxes jumped from $944,150 to $1,141,300 – a situation they appealed. They lost – and were accused of having created the increase in value because they over-paid for the properties in question.

Another contemporary family of developers has been acquiring sites on Granville Street, including most of this block. They are proposing a massive 17 storey office building, retaining the older facades, and bridging the Commodore Ballroom in its existing form. City Council have yet to decide what they think of the idea.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-51


Posted 16 February 2023 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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Seymour and Dunsmuir Streets – looking south

We saw the building on the corner, 570 Dunsmuir, when it was developed in 1926 as a bus depot, and then turned into a bigger building in 1957. Here it is in its rebuilt form, some time in the 1980s (and seen below in 1974). There was a new bus station opened in 1947 further along Dunsmuir to the east, and BC Electric ended up owning the old terminal having bought out the bus company. They used it as offices, but moved to their new office building on Burrard, in spring 1957 and by December a larger building had been completed here by adding additional floors to the shell of the transit centre. A consulting, design and construction engineering company, The BC Engineering Company, moved in,

They were a wholly-owned subsidiary of BC Electric, and their new offices had a bright two-tone blue scheme designed by Townley and Matheson with C B K Van Norman. The company became International Power and Engineering Constultants (IPEC). By 1980 H A Simons, an engineering company specializing in designing mills occupied the space.

They had clearly moved out by 1993, when the Sun reported that “A man has been charged after police raided a vacant office building and found a loaded handgun, marijuana and a home-made lab used to make amphetamines. Vancouver police liaison officer Del Valerie Harrison said the arrest was made at 9 p.m. Monday at 570 Dunsmuir. Charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking is Erberto Ferretti, who was allegedly living in the seven-storey structure.

In 1997 the building was given a further makeover by a company called 570 Dunsmuir Holdings. We don’t know who designed the new blue glazing. The contractors, Ledcor, stopped work when their payments were stopped because a BC-based mortgage company, Eron, run by Brian Slobogian and Frank Biller, were forced to call in the receivers and stop payments to the developer. The men behind 570 Dunsmuir Holdings were said to be Peter Bryant, and Martin Chambers, a dis-barred lawyer with convictions for financial improprieties. 570 Dunsmuir Holdings had an $8.5m mortgage with Eron to pay for the makeover, so eventually the building became part of Eron’s inadequate assets. The building was sold to Churchill Property Corp. in 2004 for $11.19m as part of the foreclosure of Eron.

In 2005 the Canadian Press reported “The Churchill Building, better known to thousands of scammed investors as 570 Dunsmuir St., is part of financial dog’s breakfast that was Eron Mortgage Corp.

Almost eight years after the Vancouver-based firm collapsed, taking $240 million of investors’ money with it, Eron founder Brian Slobogian is to be sentenced today after pleading guilty to one fraud and five theft counts.

His lawyer has recommended a three-year prison sentence while the Crown is looking for six-and-a-half to seven years behind bars.

The hearing will be closely watched by former Eron vice-president Frank Biller, who faces trial by judge alone April 4 on 14 charges of theft, fraud and breach of trust. Both men had previously been found guilty of securities violations, fined $300,000 each and handed trading bans in what the B.C. Securities Commission calls the biggest fraud in B.C. history.

In a parallel process – symbolized by 570 Dunsmuir – Eron’s judicial bankruptcy
trustee is disposing of the last of its assets. Only four of the dozens of Eron developments remain to be sold.

Slobogian was sentenced to six years, and Biller to three, (but they served much less time in prison). In 2022 U.S. Authorities reported that Francis Biller was wanted for involvement in a civil fraud case involving a boiler-room operation based in Medellin, Colombia, that they allege netted US$58 million. Martin Chambers was convicted on other charges of money laundering in the U.S., and spent 13 years in an Arkansas jail from 2002. He died in 2022.

TransGlobe of Toronto paid $15m for the building in 2006, and today it’s still office space on a site with a major re-development potential. Underneath, the base of the building has a nearly 100 year old frame.

CVA 772-1372 and CVA M-15-87


Posted 12 January 2023 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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570 Dunsmuir Street

Here’s a 1926 building photographed after dark in 1936. There is a daytime shot from 1938 (below) but it was taken from an upper floor window, so we can’t replicate it. Townley and Matheson designed the building as the bus station for the regional long-distance coach company, Pacific Stages, Ltd. The passenger depot was constructed by E J Ryan for $150,000.

Ivor Neil’s Terminal City Motor Co had initially operated a car hire business, but added some buses. Under a new name, Pacific Stages Transportation Ltd, he expanded to offer service between Vancouver and Port Moody and Coquitlam. Buying up other companies he eventually served the Fraser Valley and south as far as Seattle.

Sensing potential competition to their bus and streetcar network,  BC Electric Railway Co acquired the business in 1925 creating the BC Motor Transportation Co. “Operating All Classes of Motor Vehicles, Including Pacific Stages, Yellow Cabs, Sightseeing Cars, Flat Rate Cars, Drive Yourself Cars and Baggage Transfer.” Their new premises saw services headed to West Vancouver, Horseshoe Bay, through Surrey, to Mission, and even to Harrison Hot Springs, as well as to Seattle. The Vancouver Archives have images of the building’s construction in 1926. The teardrop styled buses in the picture above were built in Vancouver by Hayes.

There was a barber, beauty salon, shoe shine, travel bureau, cigar stand and the Fountain Lunch to provide services to passengers and the surrounding area. Continued service expansion meant a new terminal was built a few blocks to the east in 1946. BC Electric contined to use the building for a while, with their General Sales division occupying the building in 1950. There was also an auditorium, that we suspect may have been created from the bus garage area at the back of the main floor.

In 1957 there was a dramatic makeover of the building. In March the BC Electric staff moved to BC Electric’s new office building, and by December a larger building had been completed here by adding additional floors to the shell of the transit centre. The BC Engineering Company moved in; consulting, design and construction engineers. They were a wholly-owned subsidiary of BC Electric, and their new offices had a bright two-tone blue scheme designed by Townley and Matheson with C B K Van Norman. The company became International Power and Engineering Constultants (IPEC) and later H A Simons, a specialist engineering company specializing in designing mills took the space.

After a further reclad of the building by new, and financially dubious owners in 1997, it was bought by Churchill International Property Corp for $11.19m at the end of 2004. TransGlobe of Toronto paid $15m for the building in 2006, and today it’s still office space on a site with a major re-development potential. Underneath, the base of the building has a nearly 100 year old frame.

Image Sources: Vancouver Public Library and City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-82



Posted 9 January 2023 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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Downtown & False Creek from above

This is another older image matched up to Trish Jewison’s twitter pictures from the Global BC traffic helicopter (on May 16, 2021). It’s from the 1940s, and is one we’ve only recently been able to access as part of the collection that Uno Langmann donated to UBC. We’ve featured pictures of Burrard Street, and how suburban it felt, but this image really brings that into focus. The Burrard Bridge was newly completed, and there were industrial operations on both sides of False Creek on either side of the bridge. To the east of the bridge was a collection of run-down shacks where a residential population squatted on the foreshore.

The Vancouver Block can be seen on the left, on Granville Street, and it’s still visible today, one of the taller buildings on the retail strip. The gasometer on the right of the picture was on the end of False Creek, and the resulting pollution from the coal gas production is one reason for the parks among the residential towers developed by Concord Pacific. (The most polluted land is capped and sealed under a park, rather than risking disturbing it). That’s the earlier Georgia Viaduct crossing the industrial activity and railyards now occupied by the two stadia.

On the left St Paul’s Hospital is just visible, and across the street was Dawson School, where today the dark towers of the Wall Centre have been built. Because the shots were taken from different elevations, although they line up almost perfectly, it’s possible to see further up Burrard Inlet in the contemporary shot. In the foreground it’s easy to see the two newest and noteably taller towers. Vancouver House from this angle looks like any other rectangular condo, as the dramatic scooped cutout is hidden from view. The 54 storey Burrard Place is just left of centre, the first of three towers planned for the same block of Hornby. Between them, the contrasting black glazing and white marble balconies of the Pacific by Grosvenor stands out, another recent addition to the skyline. In the 1940s this part of Downtown was still single family homes, although some had been converted to commercial uses, and others to rooming houses.

Image source: Langmann Collection UBC


Posted 26 December 2022 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown, West End

Fidelity Life Insurance – 1112 West Pender Street

This is the new Fidelity Life Insurance Company building on West Pender, designed by McCarter Nairne & Associates. Construction commenced on the $1.6m building in 1959, and it was announced that the company (which already owned a small office in the city) were moving their headquarters here from Regina, rather than moving to Toronto. Harry Cutler was the Canadian manager of the business, and a series of other sibling companies also moved here. A 1961 profile said, “The Fidelity Life Assurance Company is a member of the Friend’s Provident and Century Group of England, whose other Canadian operations include the Pacific Coast Fire Insurance Company, Century Insurance Company, Limited, and The Anglo Scottish Insurance Company, Limited, all operating in the general insurance field.” That was the year this picture was taken.

At least one of the businesses originated in Vancouver; Pacific Coast Fire Insurance. We saw the company’s first office building, developed in 1911 and still standing on Howe Street. It once had a waterfront view but is now two rows behind newer buildings. The building was developed by the National Finance Corporation with J W Horne, and the insurance company could trace its history back to 1894 when James Welton Horne, David Henry Wilson, and Edward Odium deposited 111,845.65 to act as security against potential claims against the business. J W Horne had tried to get the business off the ground in 1890 with five other sponsors. An additional $15,000 was required in 1906, furnished by the Dominion Trust Company.

Five years after they moved in, the businesses were combined as the Century Insurance Company of Canada. They moved offices to the opposite side of the street in the 1980s, and then to Toronto in January 1987. That year the company discontinued activities, and two years later an order was issued winding up the property and business into the Dominion Insurance Corporation. The building originally had angled vertical aluminum sunshades in front of the east-facing windows – a device seen on contemporary buildings like the United Kingdom Building and the City Library. They were replaced with red brick veneer panels on the balconies that continued onto the Pender facade, so that the building appears to have been built in the 1980s.

Today it has a variety of businesses with lawyers, suppliers of polycarbonate sheeting, and designers of blockchain technology (at least for now).

Image source: Fred Schiffer Jewish Museum L.23530


Posted 22 December 2022 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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Phillips Building – Melville Street

This 1960 Office building is the one we chose for the cover of The Changing City, a book we wrote over a decade ago. It’s known today as the Wyland Building, but when it was developed it was the Phillips Building. Today there’s another Phillips Building, not far away, developed in 1965. The newspapers said the building was designed by Hollingsworth & Birmingham, although a 1962 RAICS Jounal said it was B Renke, and the developer was described in the Province as being “John Phillips, former Calgary and Texas oilman.” We’ve tried to find a Calgary oilman called John Phillips who might have developed an office building in Vancouver, and come up short. A John Phillips had been involved in an earlier project in the city developing a West End apartment building in 1954.

The Vancouver Sun reported on the million-dollar investment, and its new tenants, B.C. Forest Products. On July 3 a $3,000,000 destroyed the sawmill and offices of the business. By 5pm the following day “four floors in the new Phillips Building at 1190 Melville had been arranged, just a pulse beat from the city’s heart. That Monday was a July 4 to remember for John Phillips, a former resident of Texas. He had built the ultra-modern office block as a speculative venture. All seven floors had been vacant since February. But by nightfall he had leased all floors, at a total annual rental of about $150,000. It was an odd coincidence, but the same day MacMillan, Bloedel and Powell River Co. had agreed to take over the top three floors.”

The name change came in 1985, just after when we assume the new glazing was installed. That year the US artist Robert Wyland painted a 12,000 sq. ft. mural on the side of the building, using 153 gallons of General Paint’s exterior latex, applied with a spray gun. The top of the picture is still visible above the townhouses on the condo tower built next door, but the orcas that were the subject of the mural have been hidden. We don’t know how long a 60-year-old modest class B office building can survive in a neighbourhood of tall residential and commercial towers, but for now the mirrored facade offers a reflection of the heritage Stadacona apartments across the street, and the Ritz condo tower beside it.

Image source: Jewish Museum LF.01597


Posted 15 December 2022 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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