Archive for the ‘Altered’ Category

Granville Street – 800 block, west side (2)

This 1974 image of Granville Street looking north shows the edge of today’s McDonalds restaurant, the second building from the Smithe Street intersection. It was originally developed by William Catto in 1911, who we think was a Yukon doctor and mine-owner. In 1974 it was a camera store. The Plaza cinema next door dates back to 1936, designed by Thomas L Kerr, but there had been a cinema here, the Maple Leaf, from 1908. In 1974 it had become the Odeon, before the redevelopment of the adjacent buildings as a larger cinema, and more recently it has become the Venue nightclub, hosting live music and DJs.

To the north is one of the older buildings on Granville, the Vermilyea Block No. 2. (Block No. 1 was a block further south). William Blackmore designed the ornate 3-storey building in 1893 for John Vermilyea, one of the earlier settlers who arrived from Ontario in 1876 and initially had a farm in Richmond. In 1913 it became the Palms Hotel, converted for new owner F T Andrews, and run as a hotel for many years. In the 1980s the Palms was demolished, although the facade was restored and incorporated into a new Odeon Cinema, (which in turn closed several years ago).

Next door, in 1974, was a single storey building, built in 1920. It can be seen slightly better in this 1946 image (right). The permit says it was built for J F Mahon and designed by Edwards & Ames. It cost a remarkably precise $16,266. Edwards and Ames were agents, not architects, often representing the interests of members of the Mahon family. In 1974 it had a deco gothic 1935 façade, rather than the 1920 original, which was apparently designed by Thomas Kerr.

John Fitzgerald Mahon was an early Vancouver investor, who arrived in 1889 but soon returned to England leaving his brother, Edward, to look after his extensive interests in British Columbia, including lands on the North Shore and a mining town in Kootneys he named Castlegar, after his Irish ancestral home. (Edward Mahon purchased and developed the Capilano Suspension Bridge property where members of his family lived and operated the business) The family home on Hastings Street was later replaced by the Marine Building. In England John Mahon ran a private bank with another Anglo-Irish family; Guinness Mahon. When the Odeon was redeveloped to a multiplex movie theatre, a new building was developed here, linking the two older theatres which were incorporated into the new structure.

The third building that became part of the Cineplex Odeon in 1986 was still the Coronet Cinema in 1974. It had first been built as a theatre, The Globe, in 1912 for the Pacific Amusement Company, designed by D C Gregory and costing $40,000. Later it became the Paradise, with an unusual bas relief sculpted art deco façade added in 1938, also designed by Thomas Kerr. It was remodeled again in 1965, by architects Lort and Lort, but the 1930s façade was unaltered.

Odeon sold the cinema to the Empire chain in 2005, who closed the cinema several years ago, and it’s been looking for a new use ever since. Various ideas have been considered for office and retail space, including returning to three separate buildings. Now a proposal has been submitted for Cineplex (again) to take over the complex, redeveloping it as ‘The Rec Room’, with a variety of entertainment offerings including bowling, virtual reality and restaurants and bars, all under one roof.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-442 and CVA 586-4619 (extract)

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Posted May 16, 2019 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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Robson Street west from Hornby

This 1986 image shows changes to this part of Robson Street have been subtle, and minimal over 33 years, but that’s about to change. The trees have grown bigger, so fortunately these are winter shots, although despite that the Blue Horizon Hotel on the right in the distance now disappears behind the tree trunk. The most obvious change to come has already started in the middle distance. This ‘current’ image is already out of date – The Empire Landmark Hotel (once a Sheraton) is steadily being demolished to be replaced by two condo and non-market rental towers, with new retail and office space in the podium. There are more towers underway further down the hill as well.

On the right of the picture the First City Trust Building was completed in 1969, designed by Frank Roy with Thompson, Berwick Pratt and Partners. Now known by its address, 777 Hornby, in the 1990s it received a makeover that included redesigning the podium glazing. Before it was built the Richmond Apartments stood on the corner. Mayfair House, on the left, completed in 1980, still looks the same.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-2672

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Posted March 28, 2019 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

Looking north from Cambie Street

The City’s viewcones, that protect views of the mountains from selected spots, get a negative review from some of the city’s architects and developers. Buildings have to be shorter, or their shape altered to avoid blocking parts of the view. The most extreme example was the Trump Tower, that was designed to twist out of the way of the viewcone. Here’s the view north from Cambie at West Broadway. The picture is from further down Cambie than from where the view is protected, but the same mountains are involved.

The before picture is dated somewhere between 1960 and 1980. Off in the distance is the tower of Granville Square, completed in 1972, and on the left is the concrete bunker of the CBC Building, completed two years later. Although the Harbour Centre is now a very obvious element of the city skyline from this spot, it’s not showing in the image. It was completed in 1976, so we can pin the picture down to around 1974 or early 1975. That’s the older Cambie Bridge, on a slightly different alignment, replaced in 1985 with the new box girder structure.

This bonus 1976 image shows that the view of Downtown from the east sidewalk (nearly at 12th Avenue) has almost completely disappeared when the trees are in leaf – here in in the fall. That’s the VanCity office building, (now owned by the City of Vancouver), under construction, with a steel frame. Although that type of construction might suggest greater seismic performance, the building has recently had a comprehensive retrofit with angled steel bracing on the outside to improve its seismic rating.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-275

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Posted March 18, 2019 by ChangingCity in Altered, Mount Pleasant

West Hastings Street west from Howe Street

This 1930s postcard shows several buildings that have been redeveloped, and three that are still standing. The extraordinary Marine Building dominates the older picture – one of Vancouver’s rare ‘street end blockers’ – and fortunately, a worthy example, designed by Vancouver’s McCartner Nairne and Partners, designing their first skyscraper. While it’s Vancouver’s finest art deco building, it was far from a positive example of development budgeting. Costing $2.3 million, it was $1.1 million over budget, and guaranteed the bankruptcy of its developers, Toronto-based G A Stimson and Co.

Stimsons were also owners of the Merchant’s Exchange, the building closest to the camera on the north (right) side of the street. That was designed by Townley & Matheson, and the building permit says it cost $100,000 and was developed in 1923 for “A. Melville Dollar Co”. Alexander Melville Dollar was from Bracebridge, Ontario, but moved to Vancouver as the Canadian Director of the Robert Dollar Company. Robert Dollar was a Scotsman who managed a world-wide shipping line from his home in San Francisco. His son Harold was based in Shanghai, overseeing the Chinese end of the Oriental trade, another son, Stanley managed the Admiral Oriental Line, and the third son, A Melville Dollar looked after the Canadian interests, including property development. (The Melville Dollar was a steamship, owned by the Dollar Steamship Company, which ran between Vancouver and Vladivostok in the early 1920s). Vancouver entrepreneur and rum-runner J W Hobbs who managed Stimson’s West Coast activities paid $400,000 for the building in 1927.

The larger building on the right is the Metropolitan Building, designed by John S Helyer and Son, who previously designed the Dominion Building. Beyond it is the Vancouver Club, built in 1914 and designed by Sharp and Thompson.

On the south side of the street in the distance is the Credit Foncier building, designed in Montreal by Barrot, Blackadder and Webster, and in Vancouver by the local office of the US-based H L Stevens and Co. Almost next door was the Ceperley Rounfell building, whose façade is still standing today, built in 1921 at a cost of $50,000, designed by Sharp & Thompson.

Next door was the Fairmont Hotel, that started life as the Hamilton House, developed by Frank Hamilton, and designed by C B McLean, which around the time of the postcard became the Invermay Hotel. The two storey building on the corner of Howe was built in 1927 for Macaulay, Nicolls & Maitland, designed by Sharp and Thompson. Before the building in the picture it was a single storey structure developed by Col. T H Tracey in the early 1900s. There were a variety of motoring businesses based here, including a tire store on the corner and Vancouver Motor & Cycle Co a couple of doors down (next to Ladner Auto Service, run by H N Clement). The building was owned at the time by the Sun Life Insurance Co. Today there are two red brick modest office buildings, one from 1975 and the other developed in 1981.

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Dunsmuir Street looking westwards

There are a series of undated and uncaptioned views along Dunsmuir Street in the Vancouver Archives. Here’s one, with the Pacific Centre Mall looking shiny and new, and a lot whiter (and less draped in greenery). Today there’s a walkway across the street to the north block of the mall, which was completed in 1990, so that puts the image back to the late 1980s. Across the street is the Standard Life Building from 1977 which we think was designed by McCarter Nairne and Partners, with today’s 888 Dunsmuir from 1991 beyond it. In the before image a much smaller building was on the site; beyond in both images is Park Place, the rose coloured glazed tower built in 1984.

In the foreground on the right was a tired looking two storey building that we think dated from the 1940s or perhaps 1950s. It had replaced the Tunstall Block, and the 1990 mall addition in turn replaced the later building. Today’s Holt Renfrew department store (on the north west corner of the street) has a new façade featuring slumped glass panels, added in 2007 and designed by Janson Goldstein of New York. Beyond is a 1977 office building at 595 Howe, sometimes referenced as the ‘Good Earth Building’, today hidden behind the office tower of the Pacific Centre north block.

Our earlier post (of Park Place) looking in the opposite direction dates from 1986, and we suspect that’s around when this image was also taken. Over the intervening 30 plus years there’s much more green; street trees, rooftop landscaping, and dedicated bike lane markings.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-5107

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Posted December 27, 2018 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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

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Posted December 3, 2018 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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West Georgia and Homer Streets looking south

We’ve noted in other posts how parts of Downtown in the early 1980s were like the early clear-felled forest – except used as parking lots. The earlier buildings in this part of Downtown had been cleared away, but the replacement buildings took many years, and in some cases decades, to appear. There wasn’t a lot more development on the other side of the street, either.

Amazingly, we haven’t seen a view of this block, where the new central; branch of the city’s Library was completed in 1995. Architect Moshe Safdie has always denied any intentional reference to Rome’s Colosseum, and the design was the public’s preferred winner after a 1990 design competition. At the time the City’s biggest investment, the federal government supported the project by leasing an office tower and the upper floors of the internal library ‘box’. The top floors have just been returned to the City, and repurposed as stunning new rooftop gardens and meeting rooms.

Image source, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-829

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Posted October 11, 2018 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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