Archive for the ‘Downtown’ Category

Seymour Street – 1000 block, west side (2)

Here’s the southern end of the western side of the 1000 block of Seymour Street in 1981. We looked at the mid-block and the northern end, and the Penthouse Club, in the previous post. At this end the surface parking lot, (that was originally developed with houses in the early 1900s), was developed again in the early 1990s. Joe Wai designed the New Continental, with 110 units of non-market housing owned by the City of Vancouver. It was constructed in 1991 in accordance with BC Housing Standards of the time, which set out a maximum unit price for each suite and methods of construction. The building is a 15-storey concrete frame structure with a two-storey brick street wall podium for the residential tower which was clad with an Exterior Insulation and Finish System (EIFS). By 1998 it was obvious that water was getting into the building, and in 2000 the entire structure was reclad with new insulation and a rainscreen, and replacement roofs at a cost of $2.3m.

On the third floor, the Continental Seniors Centre is a drop in centre that caters to seniors or people over 45 years of age with a disability. There’s a large roof deck over the second floor that’s part of the Senior’s Centre. On the main floor The Gathering Place Community Centre offers programs and services to the Downtown South community. The centre primarily serves vulnerable populations, including people on lower income, people with disabilities, seniors, people of diverse ethnic backgrounds, the LGBTQ community, youth, and people who are homeless. They provide accessible and engaging programs with a focus on food and nutrition, health, education, recreation, arts and culture, and community development. The Gathering Place operates 7 days a week from 10am to 8pm and is open all statutory holidays. The VSB also run an Adult Education Centre within the Gathering Place.

In 1903 there were six identical houses already built across the end of the block, all of them fronting Helmcken Street. By 1912 the rest of the block had filled up with houses fronting onto Seymour. There are no identifiable permits for their construction, so they were probably built between 1905 and 1908 when the building permits have been lost. Some of the homes here had important residents like Thomas A Dunn, foreman at the R C Planing Mill and Magloire DesRosiers who developed a building for his stoves business on East Hastings, but their neighbours were Edward McCarry who was a freight hand on the CPR wharf and Elliott Llloyd, a carpenter.

We’re not sure when the site was cleared, but several addresses had disappeared, suggesting the houses had already been demolished by the mid 1950s.

Image source, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E03.16A

 

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Posted June 21, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Seymour Street – 1000 block, west side (1)

This image is, according to the City of Vancouver Archives, from around 1926. We place it a few years later, towards the end of 1929 or early in 1930. That’s because there’s a building seen in the picture that’s still standing today. Up to 1928 there were houses pretty much the entire block face, but in 1929 1035 Seymour was vacant, and in 1930 it was home to Bearing Supply House Ltd – seen on the left of the picture. The company’s Vancouver operation had previously been located in the heart of the business district on the 600 block of Howe Street.

Next door, to the north, are two houses, both dating back to the early 1900s. They’re both standing today, although incorporated into the complex that today is the Penthouse Club. The building to the north of that dates from 1912, although it too had a house as a basis. That year H W Forsyth & Co spent $700 to build “Dwelling/house; one-storey frame warehouse”.  The odd thing is that no such business shows up in the street directory around that period, (or any other records) and the occupant in 1913 was a contractor, Harold Burdett.

Aaron Chapman has chronicled the changing fortunes of the property for the past 77 years. “The Filippone family bought the land the Penthouse sits on in 1941, and began building the building that still exists there today. What originally housed the operations for their trucking and taxi business also found space for their Eagle Time Athletic Club, turning the building into somewhat of a community centre for over 500 local kids, with the Filippones sponsoring boxing, soccer teams, and baseball. The club already had its own boxing star with Jimmy Filippone a two time B.C. Golden Gloves champion. After the Second World War, in 1947 the Filippones began to expand the building and the business into what would eventually become the nightclub.”

So far this block has seen little development, but there are two underutilized sites (including the 1929 building) likely to see development soon. Here’s one of them – the parking lot beyond the club that has remained a vacant surface lot since before 1981. Whether the venerable Penthouse Club itself will ever disappear is less predictable. The Filippone family have apparently rejected countless lucrative offers for the site, and seem content to continue to operate one of the last outposts of a bygone era.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-2251 and CVA 779-E03.07A

Posted June 18, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone, Still Standing

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Burrard Motor Hotel

The city has seen the loss in recent years of many older and less expensive hotels. Some have been redeveloped, and some have become used as non-market housing. The Burrard is an exception; a few years ago it was renovated, rebranded, and became a stylish boutique hotel retaining it’s mid-century modern style. It’s no longer inexpensive – you can stay in the Hotel Vancouver for less. It was built in 1956, and designed by Asbjorn Gathe, the recently added partner in Gardiner, Thornton, Gathe and Associates.

One prominent feature of the design is the way the flank wall was designed to incorporate a neon identification sign. That was true in this 1958 postcard when it was the Burrard Motel and in our before shot from 2007, when it was called the Burrard Inn (although the star element of the design was lost at that time), as well as today as the Burrard Hotel. (Note that Burrard Street still had houses along it, even in the late 1950s).

In the decade since the ‘before’ shot was taken a new neighbor has appeared; a 16 storey non-market housing building designed by DYS, copmpleted in 2014 and run by the Kettle Friendship Society with over 140 units targeted at youth who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The goal is to provide tenants with a stable and safe home environment in which they can thrive.

Florence Court – West Georgia and Bute

 

Today it’s called the Banff, one of the very few remaining hundred year old apartment buildings in Coal Harbour. Built in 1909 at a cost of $58,000 by Dissette & Dean it was designed by H B Watson for J D Byrne. At the end of the year an extra $17,000 addition was permitted – it’s not clear what that would have consisted of – it could have been an additional floor as construction could have continued uninterrupted. In 1920 J W Byrne carried out $500 of repairs to the building.

In 1909 James D Byrne was living in a suite on Granville Street, working as a real estate broker with an office in the Dominion Trust Building. In 1911 he was shown as Irish, aged 53, living with his English wife Florence, (hence the name of the building) and a nurse, Helena Davis, who was Welsh. James had arrived in Canada in 1889, and shows up a lot in 1890s newspapers as he was an Assessor and Collector in the Court House, where he was often the Official Administrator of a deceased resident, a post he resigned in 1899.

He came from a distinguished family; born in County Wicklow. His father represented Count Wexford in the ‘Imperial Parliament’. He attended school in England, and on arrival in Vancouver was partner with C D Rand in his real estate business for five years. He was also  described as being ‘connected with’ the real estate department of Mahon, McFarland & Proctor for many years. His wife was the daughter of the owner of a Yorkshire woolen mill, and the couple moved to Mr. Byrne’s investment when it was completed. He was an active member of the Catholic church, and a Knight of St Columbus. He was the first President of the city’s Children’s Aid Society, a Catholic foundation, although it appears that the couple had no children.

In 1915 he was elected as an alderman – although the City’s website inaccurately records him as James D Byne. One odd item of knowledge we have about Mr. Byrne is that he seems to have enjoyed reading mystery stories – a copy of an 1888 book by John Charles Dent, ‘The Gerrard Street Mystery and Other Weird Tales’, is currently for sale for $500, bearing his signature.

The nurse in the household in 1911 suggested that perhaps Florence was ill; however, when she died in 1919 the newspaper suggested she had moved to Los Angeles for the health of her husband, only two months earlier. Florence was returned to Vancouver for her funeral, and in the 1921 census (when he was apparently recorded as James D Burne) James was listed as a widower. He was shown as having been born in Scotland, which is quite at odds with his biographic notes published a few years earlier. His last appearance in the street directory was in 1929, still listed at apartment 3 of his building. He may have maintained a Los Angeles residence; a James D Byrne died on 27 December 1929 in Los Angeles.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA M-11-58

Posted June 7, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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West Georgia Street west from The Bay

Here’s a bonus Hotel Vancouver shot – one built from 1912 to 1916, on the left, which cost the best part of three million dollars to build, designed by Painter and Swales, and the one still standing today, started in 1928 and designed by Montreal-based architects Archibald and Schofield, but not completed until 1939.

The newly installed canopy on the Hudson’s Bay building entrance isn’t an exact replica of the original, but it’s a vast improvement on the heavy steel canopies that were added later than this 1931 image shows. The third Hotel Vancouver was at this point just a shell – it was sealed up to ensure water didn’t get in, but no interior work was carried out as the depression in the economy dragged on during the 1930s. It was only the prospect of a Royal Visit by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to the city that finally prompted the completion of the new hotel. It was opened during the royal visit in 1939 having cost $12 million.

Once the third hotel was opened, the second was decommissioned, but was used to house returning war veterans during the late 1940s. It was torn down in 1949; a sad fate for an impressive structure. The site sat vacant as a parking lot for many years, until construction of the Pacific Centre Mall started in the early 1970s. This part of the site is home to the TD Tower, designed by Ceasar Pelli & Associates in bronze tinted glass, reflecting Cathedral Place and the Royal Centre across the street

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 260-226

Posted May 24, 2018 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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Imperial Opera House – West Pender Street

This was one of three Opera Houses in early Vancouver – if you include Hart’s house, which only had canvas walls. The CP Railway built the fanciest a long way from the city’s residents in the heart of their Granville Street territory, next to their hotel, opening in 1891. The Imperial pre-dated it by at least two years and was much located closer to the original city, which started life along Water Street as the Granville township, and spread out from there. The Imperial only lasted in business for about five years; Major Matthews, the city’s Archivist recorded that “in 1898 the Imperial Opera House was still in use, but as a Drill Hall.” This image shows the building already in use as the Drill Hall – although the major recorded the use as ‘Drill Shed’. The Imperial had closed in 1894, leaving the CPR building for a while as the sole attraction.

The Imperial opened in May 1889, only three years after the city was newly named and rebuilt after the fire destroyed almost every building. It was initially owned by Crickmay and Robson, who had arrived in 1888, and were both engineers, in partnership in business. They undoubtedly designed it themselves; William Crickmay sometimes described himself as an architect as well as engineer. John Robson returned to England in 1890, but William Crickmay, at the age of about 60, continued to run his engineering business while trying to run the Opera House. While operatic offerings were few and far between, the theatre was initially the only substantial structure to offer plays, visiting performers, the Athletic Club, a skating rink and local events including the Caledonian Society’s ‘Concert, Ball and Celebration’. In August 1889 C Norris appeared with his ’30 educated dogs’. In 1890 The Lacrosse Minstrels performed, John Robson, (not the same John Robson who had built it – this one was Premier of British Columbia) gave a speech, and Miss Agnes Knox, renowned Canadian elocutionist a dramatic recital. A year later the CP’s larger and superior Opera House opened, and bookings at the Imperial slumped. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was performed by the New Orleans Company, and Miss Olof Krarer “The Little Esquimaux Lady” gave a performance with stories of “Life in the Frozen North”.

Miss Krarer, a dwarf, described herself as coming from the remnant of a small tribe of blue-eyed blond people called the Angmagsalik from the east coast of Greenland. Clothed in her “native costume” of a polar bear skin parka, she spoke about her people and their customs and sang native songs. Her face was “peculiar, and almost impossible to portray” and her arms bowed, which she claimed was due to her people’s custom of keeping their arms folded at all times to ward off cold. All people of her race, she stated, were of similar height and build. The Esquimaux, she explained, lived without laws or government, the only distinction being that between rich and poor: the rich were those who had flint to strike fires, and the poor were those who did not. Nearly all the information she gave in the 2,500 lectures she gave in North America was made up, uninformed, and just plain wrong, but no one at the time disputed her facts.

Mr. Crickmay hoped his salvation might come with the creation of the Imperial Stock Company, formed in conjunction with John E Rice of the Belmour-Gray Company, the first attempt at establishing a BC touring circuit. John F Cordray of Seattle was involved, and soon after the refurbished Philharmonic Hall in Victoria joined in . Plays were performed across a number of different venues, carrying the scenery and props with them. Audiences were unpredicatable, and often performances were better attended in small towns than in the bigger cities. A smallpox outbreak in 1892 in Victoria put the circuit out of business. That year ‘Handsome’ Jim Corbett (later ‘Gentleman’ Jim) fought an exhibition bout in the Opera House, but business was thin. It was closed in 1894 and a year later the Imperial was leased by the Provincial Government as a Drill Hall. William Crickmay died on December 24 1900. His sons, Alfred and Fred continued in business in the city as Crickmay Bros; warehousemen and customs brokers.

The building was replaced in 1911 by the Duncan Building, developed by Howard J Duncan and designed by H L Stevens and renamed in 1925 as the Shelly Building when it was acquired by Cora Shelly.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Mil P5

 

Posted May 21, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Georgia and Richards – ne corner

We posted earlier on the first building to be constructed here; St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. It was demolished in 1937, and yet another gas station and car dealership replaced it a few years later. In 1940 the St Andrew’s Wesley Community Centre was demolished on Richards Street (the original Sunday School building) and this location became home to the Georgia Imperial Service Station run by G T Peverley. In 1942 it was renamed as the Georgia and Richards Service station run by J O Betts.

In 1947 a Ford dealership was added, Black Motors, run by George Black. We’re not sure if the service station always had a sales building on Richards, or was remodeled to add the showroom at the back of the site in a matching style. According to their directory entry the dealership sold “Mercury, Lincoln, Meteor and English Ford Passenger Cars; Mercury Trucks”, and were “Wholesale Parts Distributors for All Ford Products.” It was a big operation; there are over 20 employees listed in the 1948 street directory.

In 1948, when our Vancouver Public Library image was taken, Black Motors also had another location; a paint shop on Seymour Street, and in 1949 they added another on the corner of Dunsmuir & Homer. The Ford dealership was competing with Stonehouse Motors across the street who sold GM products. (In 1949 Black Motors provided the Mercury car that ended up on stage at the Strand Theatre as part of a promotion).

By 1953 the Dunsmuir and Homer location (which was on the same block as this location) was the main business address for Black’s Motors. There was a used car lot on Kingsway and another on Main Street for new and used trucks, and this was listed as the service station. 686 Richards, the former parts department was now listed as Black’s Restaurant, with Mrs A M Oliphant as managing director. That situation remained true in 1955, the last year we can see street directories online. Vancouver As It Was has more on the conversion to a restaurant.

In 1974 the current 10 storey BC Turf Building office was completed. Designed by Zoltan Kiss for the Diamond family and built by Dominion Construction, it has recently been remodeled on the main floor to house the Post Office and the Bank of Montreal, both relocating from nearby. Since 2001 Saskatchewan artist Joe Farfad’s sculpture of “Royal Sweet Diamond”, a bull, stood here. The site was bought from Gulf Oil, who last operated the gas station as a British American station, in 1968. Originally the plan was for a 26 storey hotel, but an oversupply of hotel rooms and tight money supply changed the plans. Originally TD Bank were tenants on the ground floor.

George Black Motors Ltd relocated to North Burnaby, and continued operating there in the 1960s and 1970s.

Posted May 14, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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