Archive for the ‘Downtown’ Category

700 block Homer Street – west side

We saw the building on the right of this image in an earlier post. Until recently it was home to Budget Car Rental: as this 1981 image shows the company operated on this lot for many years. Now you have to go to the airport to hire a Budget vehicle: the site is intended to have a new office tower built in the near future. As early as 1920 this was public parking – C A Hughes obtained a building permit for the southern end of the Budget lot for a ‘parking station’ that year.

Down the street is a single storey garage structure, that replaced a series of dwellings built in the early 1900s. In 1933 Madame Reo, a clairvoyant (known to her friends as Mrs Ella Evans) operated here. In 1937 Stonehouse Motors moved into their new premises on the corner, and the Superior Plating Works were located down the street, staying here for over 25 years. The Stonehouse Motors service department was located further along the street, replaced in the 1950s by Collier’s Motors who had their sales office nearby on West Georgia.

The largest building on the block today is a church, that started life as a theatre. Sponsored by the Ford Motor Company, the theatre was originally known as The Ford Centre for the Performing Arts when it opened in 1995, designed to bring Broadway shows in an 1,800 seat auditorium designed by Moishe Safdie for Garth Drabinsky’s Livent (who declared bankruptcy in 1998). It sold in 2001 to new owners who renamed it The Centre for Performing Arts, and for several years they brought touring shows to the theatre. The theatre’s sale to the Westside Church took place in 2013, although more recently movie and musical performances have continued to use the theatre from time to time.

On the left the city’s Central Library has been built, and beyond the theatre thousands of apartments have been developed, from the early 1990s onwards.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E09.31


Posted October 23, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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160 West Cordova Street

We have seen this 1888 building on Cordova Street in an earlier post, but we haven’t been able to identify the architect or developer. In the earlier 1902 image Rae’s wholesale and retail could be seen. This 1936 shows the building occupied by sheet metal workers Kydd Brothers.

In 1906 Norman Kydd was shown living in the city for the first time, working as a clerk, but by 1908 Kydd Bros – Harry F and Norman were established selling hardware and kitchen furnishings at 128 E Hastings. Norman was living in The Manhattan, and Harry at 1160 Robson, although they each had suites in the Manhattan a year later.

By 1912 the firm moved from East Hastings to West Pender: both brothers had moved home; Harry to West 3rd Avenue, (to a building still standing today) and Norman to Comox Street in the West End. The move to West Pender prompted an advertisement in the Daily World which gives a good idea of their line of business “A Big Tool Demonstration Tomorrow Night at Kydd Brothers, Limited HARDWARE SALE Tradesmen in all lines are cordially invited to be present. Prominent men in all trades will be here and a pleasant evening may be spent in looking over the tremendous stock of tools now in display that are being closed out before this firm moves to its new store. The purpose of the gathering is to bring men together working in the same trades to inspect tools that are now down from the shelves laid side by side for quick disposal. It Shall Not Be Obligatory on Anyone to Buy – but men expert in their trades will be here to give views on the merits of the particular tools they use and discussion will follow which will go to show why certain makes of tools are preferred over others and why they are used. Old Heads Will Reason With Young Ones and the gathering of tradesmen in all lines in this store on Saturday night will be of splendid educational benefit to those who are interested on the work they do and the best tools to use to do it. Fine lines of hardware and mechanics’ tools are being sold at factory cost; everything outside of association goods. Its a big chance to replenish the tool chest at easy prices because the stock here is to be completely closed out.” Later Norman Kydd would have a retail store on Granville Street.

Norman and Harry Kydd were born in Ozark, Kansas, of Scottish parents, but moved to Ontario as children. Harry’s business career began as auditor for the Armor Packing Co. in Richmond, Virginia. Later he was moved to other company branches, including Philadelphia. He joined Norman in 1907, with Harry’s role as an entrepreneurial salesman. The firm took on the sale of stoves which were installed upon purchase. The sheet metal shop, shown here, was opened in the 1920s. and in 1936, when this image was shot, it was still home to Kydd Brothers, although by that time Harry was the only brother involved in the business. In 1919 Norman had established his own business on Granville Street, and by the early 1920s had moved south, later living in Seattle.

At one time Kydd Brothers employed 20 plumbers, but following a strike in the late 1920’s (where the new wage was raised to $1 an hour), Kydd Bros left the installation market and stuck largely to plumbing sales to both retail and wholesale trade.

A third brother, Malcolm also moved to Vancouver, and became an employee of the Royal Bank. By the 1930s he was manager of the Port Coquitlam branch of the bank, and in the 1940s manager of the Huntington Rubber Mills of Canada Ltd., factory in the same municipality. He died in 1945.

Harry had died a few years earlier, in 1941. He had run for Alderman in the city at least twice in the late 1920s and early 1930s on a platform of honest administration and fiscal conservatism. After the Second World War, Harry’s son Charles was running the company when the commercial division was relocated to the south side of False Creek where they became BC Plumbing Supplies. This building was rebuilt in 1953 as a single storey structure and today is associated with the Cambie Hostel next door.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4875

Posted October 19, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone, Victory Square

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500 block Granville Street – west side (4)

Here’s another image of Granville Street; the west side of the 500 block looking north from Dunsmuir in 1910 in a Vancouver Public Library image. On the corner is the Tunstall Block, built in 1902 by D Saul for Dr Simon Tunstall at a cost of $22,000, designed by G W Grant. In 1909 he added two more floors at an additional cost of $20,000. That suggests that our Vancouver Public Library image isn’t as dated from 1910, but probably from a year earlier. The next three-storey building to the south was another designed by G W Grant for Bedford Davidson in 1903, at a cost of $10,000.

The biggest building on this end of the block was the four-storey Gordon Drysdale block, built for his dry goods business in 1907 and designed by Hooper and Watkins with an addition in 1912 by S B Birds. Next door the smaller building to the north was known as the Anderson block, dating from before 1888 when there’s an Archives image of the building standing alone on the street, with the fire brigade filling their fire engine with water outside. At the time C D Rand and Co, the real estate company, operated from the building.

The fifth building down is the Inglis Reid Building, another G W Grant design for builder and Investor Bedford Davidson, who also owned and built the building beside it in 1902. The steel frame is where in 1909 Miss Spencer decided to replace her eight year old 3-storey building with an 8-storey steel framed office, designed by E W Houghton of Seattle.

None of the buildings on this side of the street are still standing: today this is part of the northern block of the Pacific Centre Mall, designed by Zeidler Roberts Partnership and completed in 1990. In 2007 the corner of the block had a radical redesign by Janson Goldstein of New York for the new Holt Renfrew store, incorporating panels of slumped glass in the design.

Posted October 16, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Vancouver Community College – Dunsmuir Street

The Downtown campus of the Vancouver Community College started life as the Vancouver Vocational Institute, designed by a leading local architectural firm of the day, Sharp Thompson Berwick and Pratt. It was one of the earliest examples of the International Style in Vancouver, and the Pender Street façade is still looking much as when Bob Berwick designed it in 1948.

Here on Dunsmuir Street the façade of the building is quite different from our 1974 ‘before’ image. A 1983 expansion added a new larger structure, and reclad the street wall with reflective glazing. Today the whole building is a heritage structure, although it’s unlikely that redevelopment of this heavily altered element would raise many objections.

The Community College was built on the site of the 1892 High School, which in turn was re-purposed as the city’s Art School in the 1930s.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-68.

1010 – 1032 Seymour Street

Here are four more houses on the 1000 block of Seymour Street, showing how low-density and relatively unchanged the Downtown South area remained as recently as 1981. We don’t have any records for who the builders of these houses were; 1010 at the northern (left hand) end of the row appears on the 1901 insurance map. The others were all built around

In 1905 the resident of 1010 was shown as Hill Peppard, speculator, although elsewhere in the same publication he’s described as a horse dealer. By 1908 all four houses were occupied: Waldron Edgecombe, a bookkeeper lived at 1010, Norman Thomas, foreman was at 1022, Thomas Smirl,  a millwright was at 1026, and Rose McDade was running a rooming house at 1032. From the frequent name changes it seems likely that some of the houses were rented; in 1911 Mrs Emma Walch lived at 1010, Norman Reynolds was at 1022 and Mary Bernahrd, widow of Jacob, was at 1032. Only Thomas Smirl was still in the same home as three years earlier. Alonzo Reynolds appears to have been an owner, because he added a frame shop to the building in 1909 (where he operated his business as a cigar maker). Emma Walch was aged 26, and was a housekeeper living with her six-year-old son George. Bother mother and son had been born in the US. In the census of 1911 Thomas was shown as Thomas Smerle, a millwright living with his wife Hughena; both born in Ontario, Their 17-year old son, William, and 13-year-old daughter, also Hughene, had both been born in BC. They had a lodger living with them; Henry Norris. In the street directory Thomas was a foreman at Robertson and Hackett, a sash and door manufacturer with a factory at Granville Bridge.

The houses were cleared and eventually replaced with ‘Level’ – a condo tower that the owners have for the time offered as furnished apartments. There are also three floors of office space in the building’s northern podium.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E06.35

Posted September 28, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

1000 block Richards Street – east side

As in our last post, here are more old houses and a modest commercial building on Richards Street in 1981. There are four houses here: one is almost hidden by a billboard in the 1981 image, with a larger house to the north. Along with one of the other closer houses it has been moved and swung through 90 degrees to add to three others already standing on Helmcken Street. Today there’s a street edge of five houses, recreating the view that existed in 1910, but which was lost in the 1950s when the commercial box on the corner replaced two of them.

The houses that were relocated date from 1907 and 1908, a period where we have no comprehensive building records. The houses here were built speculatively, usually as rental properties. We know that the other three houses, (those that weren’t moved) were built by Wellington Brehaut. Richard Greenwell was the first resident of 108o Richards (the 1908 house that was moved, almost hidden by the commercial block). Richard was a fireman at the Hastings sawmill, and his family were also listed including sons Alexander, a cigarmaker, John, who worked for the CPR and Robert, an elevator boy for Manhattan Court as well as daughter Mary who was clerk for Dr Minogue. The Greenwell’s moved on and by 1911 had been replaced by John McKissock. New residents were shown in 1912. William Knight was a bar server who had only arrived in Canada in 1911 with his wife and three daughters, and to help out they had two lodgers, Mr and Mrs Marshall, also originally from England.

There would later be much greater stability of occupancy for the other house that was moved, 1062 Richards, dating back to 1907. It’s another modest cottage that was built in 1908, and like 1080 saw some changes of occupancy in the early days. The first street reference lists the occupants simply as “foreigners”. A year later John Fraser, a telephone operator moved in, staying for a number of years. He was from Nova Scotia, as was his wife. They had arrived in Vancouver from the USA, where their four year old son had been born. They also had lodgers in 1911, J B and Edith Moore. J B was born in BC, and Edith was from Alaska.

In 1962 Linda Rupa moved in, paying $16,000 for the house. She was a clerk at Safeway’s, who had initially worked at the Army and Navy store when she first arrived in the city, earning 99 cents an hour. She discovered the house had a poker table upstairs, and 17 phones, with to private lines to the US. The house had been a speakeasy for a bootlegger – a profitable enterprise in the area, especially during the war. Once development of residential towers took off in the 1990s, site assembly started. Richards on Richards, the nightclub, sold to developer Mark Chandler, who then offered Linda $3 million for the two lots she owned, one with the house on. She turned him down, and he soon had bigger problems as he was eventually run out of town for selling several units in an earlier project to more than one prospective owner. The Aquilini family acquired Chandler’s assets here, and finally succeeded in persuading Linda to sell, for $6 million. She planned to move to New Westminster, noting when asked what she would do with the money that “I bought myself a nice tube of lipstick. I’ll get a new quilt from Sears – they’ve got them on sale”.

The timing of the site purchase was unfortunate. The condo project planned here was called the Richards. Francesco Aquilini spent five years assembling the site, in an area where buyers were paying $800 a square foot for their new, yet-to-be-built condos. The units came to market just as the market crashed. A handful of the 226 condos and townhouses sold, not enough to start construction. “We opened the sales centre the day after the October 27 crash,” says Aquilini. “It was like opening after 9/11.” The site sat for a couple of years before the units were re-marketed, at prices around 25% lower than initially anticipated. Fortunately construction costs had fallen as well, and the project (designed by Lawrence Doyle Young and Wright) sold out and was completed in 2011.

Image Source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E08.26

Posted September 7, 2017 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

1000 block Richards Street – west side

These modest houses in the Downtown managed to last for over a century, although they had been cleared away several years before the new building that now stands on the corner of Richards and Helmcken. New Jubilee House is designed by GBL Architects, and was a replacement for Jubilee House, a modest non-market building to the south. The new building has nearly twice the units, and is concrete rather than wood-frame, so much more substantial.

The houses that were here in our 1981 image were first built around 1907, when the building permit records are missing. The first residents were Harry Gray, a clerk, who lived in the house closest to us, and Mrs Mary Vincent in the second house. There was a third, more imposing house on the corner that dated back to 1902 which had been designed by W T Whiteway for Robert Willis, although it was always tenanted; by Edwin Bridge, a teamster in 1903, and Frederick Mileson, an electrician, in 1908.

In 1911 George R Wilson lived on the corner, Robert L Erisman next door, and Mrs Vincent was still living in the third house. It wasn’t entirely clear why Mrs. Vincent, born in New-Foundland and 63 years old in 1911, was the name in the street directory. According to the census she shared the house with her family, including her husband Robert (also from New-Foundland) who was 67, and children Minnie, aged 19, born in BC, and William, who was 40 and also born in New-Foundland. It became clearer when their employment was taken into account. Minnie was a stenographer. Robert was retired according to the street directory, but the census said he was a ship’s carpenter,  while William was seaman. For the purposes of the street directory it was Mary and Minnie who counted as resident, although in earlier years (and also after he had retired) Robert was listed as a carpenter.

By 1915 all three houses had new residents, and there’s a continuous turnover of changing names suggesting these were probably rental properties. Later this part of town changed from being wholly residential. By the start of the second world war the corner had become the base for Eagle Taxi. Next door Mrs Robinson’s house was let as rooms, and so were Edgar and Elsie McKinnin’s house to the north. Just up the street businesses had moved in, with the Central Sheet Metal Works and the Heating and Ventilation Company of BC. The shift to business premises continued for decades, although houses like these continued to be scattered throughout the area.

Now almost built-out as the Downtown South residential area, thousands more people live here than at any earlier point in previous history.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E05.30 (wronly labeled as 500 block Dunsmuir Street)

Posted September 4, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone