Archive for the ‘Downtown’ Category

1272 Granville Street

Our 1921 image shows yet another car dealership Downtown, with three more American brands competing for the city’s motoring dollars. We’re not sure who designed the building, but it seems to have been owned for many years (with several others on the same block) by Henry Hoffmeister. Henry was no stranger to motoring; he was one of several Hoffmeister Brothers who came to the city from Ontario, two of whom ran a significant car dealership on Pender Street in the 1910s, selling many different makes  The company were successful enough to have offices in the prestigious Winch Building. The building is very like one across the street designed by Henry’s brother, Reinhart.

Henry was more commonly known as Harry and with his brother George operated the car dealership on Pender Street offering both gasoline and electric models, and they were electrical engineers as well. Harry had arrived from Ontario in 1886, one of seven brothers whose father was an international lawyer living in Clifford, Ontario. Reinhart followed in 1888; a steam engineer in a flour mill, he learned about electricity as it was being installed for the first time. William, another engineer arrived in 1893, having worked for Allis machinery and the Pullman company. The Hoffmeister Brothers were dealers for a number of car makers, with at one time six different electric cars, including Detroit Electric vehicles. According to Major Matthews in an interview with Reinhart, architect Thomas Fee bought the first electric vehicle. They also appear to have been builders, with several building permits for their own properties and one for Captain French on Alexander Street.

Pattison Motors was a new enterprise, managed by John W Pattison who also ran Ye Olde English Billiards Parlour at 779 Granville. The 1921 census tells us he was aged 39, English, and married to his 28-year-old American wife, Martha and living in the Bell-Irving block at 679 Granville. He had arrived in Canada in 1901, and his wife in 1912. We think he was running a lodging house on Pender Street in 1911, living at that time with his older wife, Eva, who was also American, aged 34 and with two children, James and Gordon Benge.

Pattison sold Saxon, Roamer and Lexington cars. Saxon cars were built in the Ace factory in Michigan from 1914. Despite financial problems from 1917, in 1920 a new model, the Duplex, powered by an overhead-valve, four-cylinder engine joined the six-cylinder model with a sedan body. The six-cylinder cars were no longer listed after 1921 and production fell from 7,000 a few years earlier to 2,100 cars, and the company ceased production in 1922. The Roamer was first built in 1916 by the Barley Motor Car Co. in New York State, and later Kalamazoo, Michigan. The stylish car had a nickel-plated grill modeled after the Rolls-Royce. After a Roamer with a Rochester-Duesenberg engine set six records for sprints at Daytona Beach in 1921, the advertisements crowed, “America’s Smartest Car Makes America’s Fastest Mile.” Production was moved to Ontario in 1924, and struggled on for five years. Lexington Motors was founded in 1909 in the city of the same name in Kentucky. The cars were assembled with parts from a number of different suppliers: in 1922 the United States Automotive Corporation, Lexington’s parent company, owned ten different factories building parts for its cars. Production of Lexington cars peaked in 1920 with over 6,000 built. By 1922 it had fallen to roughly a third of that of 1920.

In 1923 the Daily World ran an advertisement “Announcing To All Automobile Owners and to Those Who Will Be Pattison Motors Ltd. 1365 Granville Street Have Been Appointed the British Columbia Representatives for the Manufacturers of Willys – Knight and Overland Cars”. While still selling Lexington and Roamer cars, the company had also added Stutz to their lineup, and moved a block south. Pattison Motors didn’t survive the 1920s financial crash, with Atlas Motors taking over their premises. John W Pattison became a broker. This building continues to be used for vehicle sales: C C Motor sales were here in 1927, run by E H Winram. By the mid 1930 Gent Supply Co’s auto accessory wholesale operation was here, along with Walsh’s auto wrecking and parts company. In 1950 Parker’s furniture store was here, and today there’s a market rental building with 10 storeys designed by Hywel Jones and completed in 2001.

Image Source City of Vancouver Archives Trans N19.

Posted March 27, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Richards Street – 900 Block east side (2)


The building on the right of this 1981 image is also on our previous image. It dates from the mid 1950s, although that might have been a refurbishment of a $10,000 building designed and built by Bedford Davidson for the Pioneer Auto & Carriage Company in 1920. They were a firm of auto body builders run my William Alexander, Michael McLean and William Benson, and seem to have developed from the Pioneer Carriage and Shoeing Co, shifting from horses to horseless carriages.

The decorative building to the north was built in 1913,  a $30,000 office and store designed by W F Gardiner for the North West Trust Co., Ltd. It too was part of Vancouver’s expansive motordom, occupied initially with the showrooms of the Albion Motor Co, (a Scottish vehicle manufacturer), the Albion Motor Express  and the United Auto Agency of BC offices.

Off in the distance on the left is the first building on the block, the Pioneer Steam Laundry, built in 1908 and still standing today. While the steam laundry building remains, the rest of the block here is taken up by The Savoy, a 2000 condo tower designed by Hancock, Bruckner Eng + Wright.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E09.11

Posted March 20, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Richards Street – 900 Block east side (1)


This view of the east side of the 900 block of Richards dates from 1981, when the Downtown South commercial area comprised modest and generally unremarkable one and two storey buildings. There’s one exception in this image; the single storey structure in the centre of the picture started life as a “nondescript office-cum-warehouse” according to Exploring Vancouver 2, but in 1975 it was given a new life as the home of the Architectural Institute of BC. Dalla-Lana/Griffin were the architects of the conversion.

Across Nelson Street were the almost windowless studios of CFOX (which had morphed from CKLG a couple of years earlier). CKLG became Canada’s first full-time FM rock music station in 1968.

In 2006 Tribeca Lofts replaced the AIBC building, with 52 condos in an 8-storey building designed by Hancock, Bruckner, Eng + Wright. To the north, on the left of the image, where Hudson Optical and British Columbia Industries operated in 1981, The Savoy, a 30-storey tower designed by Howard, Bingham, Hill was completed in 2000, while C-Fox (and the building’s resident mouse population – noted by former radio station staff) were replaced in 2003 by The Gallery, a 23 storey tower, also designed by Hancock, Bruckner, Eng + Wright.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E09.12

Posted March 16, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Homer Street Methodist Church


Here’s the second Methodist Church built in the city, constructed only three years after the first one was built on Water Street. The dramatic growth in population after the railway arrived saw that building to be entirely inadequate, and this imposing new structure was put up in a recently cleared area not too far from the CPR’s new Granville St hub, but not so far from the population concentrated in the original Old Granville Townsite to the east and north of here. This picture showing the new church at the corner of Homer and Dunsmuir dates from 1890, a year after it was completed. Thomas Hooper was the architect, and this was probably his first major work in the city, although he had arrived in 1886 and been busy as a supervising architect for the Province of BC.

methodist-church-545-homer-st-demo-1910What’s remarkable is how short a period elapsed before the building was abandoned as the congregation moved further west to Georgia and Burrard to a new church designed by William Blackmore in 1901.

In 1910, this 1889 church was demolished. The congregation had sold the site to the city’s Trades and Labour Council in 1899, who later built the ‘Labour Temple’ on the site, also designed by the now very successful Thomas Hooper. The church negotiated a ‘sale and leaseback’ agreement while they built their new building, and the Labour organization paid $7,000 for the church property here.

Initially they had considered re-using the church, but eventually concluded that it wasn’t possible to repurpose it for their needs, and instead redeveloped with the building still there today. It took five years to pay off the mortgage to buy the site; then fundraising started for the replacement. The building on the site today has recently been given a thorough makeover, including some complicated seismic bracing, and is occupied in part by a law office.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives Ch N63 and CVA 677-724

Posted February 23, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Georgia and Burrard – sw corner (2)


While we have no idea who designed the 1930s building on the corner of Burrard and West Georgia that housed Oscar’s restaurant and the Palomar Club, we do know who built the building that it replaced, shown here. William Blackmore was hired to design the new Wesley Methodist Church in 1901. The design was very loosely based on H H Richardson’s Trinity Church in Boston – although it’s quite difficult to create a wooden facsimile of a stone building. There’s a 1901 illustration that suggests the Methodists were planning a stone building initially, but no doubt the cost became a factor in the decision to build in wood.

The congregation moved here in 1902 from Homer Street, the year this picture of the new church was taken. The old church was located in the eastern side of the city, and some of the city’s wealthier Methodists had moved into the new residential enclave of the West End, and it’s said the church was moved with them. The new church was a bit bigger than the one it replaced – but not a lot bigger. It lasted just 32 years before the congregation moved to another new Wesley church – St Andrew’s Wesley, further south on Burrard Street.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Ch P91

Posted February 20, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Georgia and Burrard – sw corner (1)

w-georgia-burrard-sw-3We’ve seen the Burrard Building that’s on this corner in an earlier post, both as it is today, and how it was first clad. Here’s what was on the site before the Burrard Building was erected in the late 1950s; a single storey retail building with fins that match those on the passing car. It was 1955 when Walter E. Frost took the picture, not long before the building was replaced, and that’s Oscar’s steakhouse, with an ‘Oscar’ hanging off the corner. Owner Oscar Blanck had died the previous year  in a plane crash, but the business, and his name had lived on, although soon after this the restaurant was located across the street at 1023 Burrard, run by his widow. Oscar’s name was sometimes listed at Blank, and at others (more accurately) as Blanck. His death was noted in an Arizona newspaper: “Oscar Blanck, who came here from Winnipeg and built a hamburger stand into one of Vancouver’s largest restaurants , was aboard the ill-fated Trans-Canada Air Lines flight 9, which crashed today over Moose Jaw, Sask. Blanck was proprietor of “Oscar’s,” a gathering place for show people in the heart of the entertainment district“.

oscarsRonald Stewart recalled eating at Oscar’s: “In those days, they didn’t serve thick steaks. They were usually about a half to three quarters of an inch thick but the King-size was a porterhouse that filled a dinner plate.” The restaurant bought prize-winning cattle from agricultural fairs each year, and the menu said: “All beef served at Oscar’s is specially grain-fed and hung for 30 days ensuring the very best in quality meats for our guests the year ’round.” Oscar’s nephew was ophthalmologist Herb Fitterman who, in 1968, performed what is believed to have been the first lens implant operation in Canada.

palomarOscar’s was in front of the Palomar nightclub, whose entrance was along the street on the left of the picture. The club had a rich entertainment history; Chuck Davis wrote: “Dal Richards joined the Sandy De Santis house orchestra at the Palomar in the fall of 1937, and was there in the fall of 1938 when it changed from a ballroom to a night club. A Vancouver girl named Peggy Middleton joined the chorus line, and Dal remembers that she pestered him and the club’s owner, Hymie Singer, to do a solo number. “It was Top Hat, White Tie and Tails,” Dal said, “And she’d gone out and bought the stuff she needed for the number.” They okayed the solo, and maybe that’s what persuaded 15-year-old Peggy Middleton that showbiz was for her. She changed her name to Yvonne De Carlo and went on to become a movie and TV star.”

The Palomar Supper Club was initially run by Hymie Singer, and later (when Singer joined the war in 1940) Sandy DeSantis, who also led the club’s orchestra. It couldn’t legally sell alcohol, but as one of the classier ‘West End’ clubs it avoided police raids, and there were always ways around inconvenient regulations. In 1949 Billie Holliday performed at the club; in 1951 and 1952 Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington. The 1937 building, built by Singer where L B Wing’s produce market had been, had a high vaulted ceiling so acrobats and dancers could perform without fear of the low ceilings that were found in some venues. In 1938 the CBC broadcast a half hour swing session from the club every week, putting it on the national map. The Palomar was bankrupt in 1951, but reappeared for a few more years as the New Palomar, still run by Sandy DeSantis.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-330

Posted February 16, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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High School – Dunsmuir Street (2)


The original High School, built in 1892, and apparently designed by C R Oldershaw, stayed around for many years, although its role changed over time. This Walter E. Frost image was shot in 1954, when  it had been the School of Art for nearly 20 years, although the school had officially moved to other premises two years earlier. However, it looks as if this building continued to be used by the Art School – there are easels visible in the windows. While it hadn’t really changed a lot from when it was first built, there was an added fire escape that didn’t do the appearance of the building any favours.

Founded originally in 1925 as the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts, the school was initially situated on the top floor of the Vancouver School Board building at 590 Hamilton Street. Among the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts’ original teaching staff were the Italian born and trained sculptor Charles Marega, whose lions flank the Lion’s Gate Bridge in Stanley Park in Vancouver, pioneering abstract painter artist Jock Macdonald, and Group of Seven member Frederick Varley. Property magnate Jonathan Rogers was on the Advisory Committee that created the School. The object of the School was “to give a thorough practical knowledge of industrial design, drawing, modeling and decorative painting; and to furnish a sound training to those following, or intending to follow, the various trades, manufactures, or professions requiring such knowledge.” The cost to attend a whole term full time was $25. It was renamed the Vancouver School of Art in 1936 at which time it moved to this building – the former Vancouver (Central) High School.

During the early post-War period, artist-instructors such as Gordon Smith and Jack Shadbolt modeled modern abstract painting at the School. The School moved to larger facilities at the renovated former School Board building in 1952, evolved into the Emily Carr School of Art, and now Emily Carr University of Art + Design, moving to Granville Island, and soon to the False Creek Flats. This building had been demolished by 1956, and was replaced with a new structure by the early 1960s. The educational institution that replaced it is the former Vancouver City College; renamed as Vancouver Community College in 1974, when it separated from the Vancouver School Board.

Posted February 13, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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