Archive for the ‘Downtown’ Category

Crown Building – West Pender Street

We have looked at the north-west corner of Seymour and Pender twice, seven years ago, and again in 2013. The building on the corner was the Delmonico Hotel, built in 1889 as the Windsor Hotel. It opened in September, described in the news as ‘a new and costly undertaking’. “On Monday next the Windsor Hotel will open for business under the management of Messrs. Brocklesby and Allen, both late of Hotel Vancouver. These gentlemen are thoroughly familiar with the business, and propose to run a first – class house. The table will be second to none in the city and the rooms, well furnished and comfortable, will he kept in the best style. The bar will be well stocked with wines, liquors and cigars, the finest that can be supplied, and no pains will be spared to make the Windsor the favorite resort of the permanent and transient public. Its close proximity to the railway station and the steamers is a great point in its favor, and one tired travellers will highly appreciate.” The partnership lasted all of two months; by November Mr. Brocklesby was in sole charge.

The building had been announced in 1888, and the Daily World identified the developer, the enterprising Dr. Whetham. He commissioned N S Hoffar to design another investment property in 1888, but we haven’t found an architect listed for the Windsor. He was a qualified doctor, but had abandoned medicine for real estate development before he arrived in Vancouver in 1887.

Next door to the west was the Crown building. It was six storeys of white glazed brick, with centre-pivoted windows, which was the signature design of Parr and Fee, who designed a series of almost identical buildings on Granville Street; most are still standing today. The Crown was built in 1907, and the Daily World reported the architects, and the cost of the building ($75,000), as well as the developers, Martin & Robertson. They were importers and suppliers of dried foodstuffs, and we looked at their history in connection with their Water Street warehouse, built a few years earlier than the Crown.

Robert Martin was born in 1851 in Ontario and in 1901 lived in Vancouver with his wife Lydia, who was English, with their four children, and their ‘lady’s help’, Caroline Watson, and Jin, the domestic. Arthur Robertson was a Scotsman who was seven years younger than his business partner, and looking after the company’s other warehouse, in Victoria. They had been in business from the city’s earliest days: in 1894 they were advertising in the Daily World as agents for JOHNSTON’S FLUID BEEF – which was claimed ‘Eclipses All Meat Extracts and Home-made Beef Tea’.

Their investment building was occupied in multiple small suites, with a wide range of professional services. Architect J H Bowman had his practice here in 1911. A year later the Canada Lumberman and Woodworker magazine was published from here, and contractor Walter Hepburn had his offices here in the same year. Robert Martin had a number of other commercial investments in the city, including one a block east of here.

When Ernie Reksten took this picture in 1968 the buildings were about to be demolished, to be replaced with a parkade (with retail units on the main floor). It was completed in 1969, and looks like it should pass it’s 50th birthday, although Downtown parkades are becoming valuable redevelopment opportunities, and it seems unlikely that it will last for many more years.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 2010-006.010.

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Posted December 13, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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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

Posted December 3, 2018 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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Dunsmuir and Howe – ne corner (2)

We looked at the Hambro Building that was built here in 1920s. Like much of Downtown, today’s commercial district started life as a residential neighbourhood, and in this 1899 picture the Japanese Consulate was on the corner. Previously the consulate had been at 730 Burrard Street, With Tsugoro Nosse as Consul. (He moved on to run the Consulate in Chicago). From 1898 it was Hon. S Shimizu, and this new location had been the Consulate for a little before the change of consul, probably starting in 1897 A year earlier the Consulate had placed a wanted ad in the Daily world “WANTED – NEW LARGE HOUSE, suitable for office and residence, near Hotel Vancouver or Vancouver Club.” We think the Consul when the image was taken was called Seizaburō Shimizu, who had been Consul in Hawaii, and moved on to be Japanese Consul in Ottawa in the 1920s.

At the time the image was taken, the consul was kept busy writing to the Federal Government, objecting to the discrimination against the Japanese in British Columbia shown in Provincial legislation like the Alien Labour Bill to which assent has been given in 1898. In turn he was consulted by the government over a number of years about the Japanese voluntarily restricting migrants from moving to British Columbia, where hostility to Asiatic employees was building as the economy faltered. He had moved on by 1902, some years before the Japanese response to the anti-Asiatic riot that broke out in 1907, causing significant damage in Japantown (centred on Powell Street). At the time about 8% of the population of the city were Chinese, and several thousand Japanese from a population of around 100,000. The riots served their purpose: Japan agreed to restrict the number of passports issued to make labourers and domestic servants to an annual maximum of 400 under a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ enacted in Canada in early 1908, the year the consulate moved to the newly constructed ‘Imperial Block’ on West Pender.

Once the Japanese had moved, the new occupant of the former consulate was D’Auria Francesco D’Auria ‘vocal teacher’. He was, as his name suggests, an Italian, born in Naples, and a successful composer and orchestral conductor. He had founded the first, shortlived, Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 1890, moving on to Winnipeg in 1895, and then Minneapolis before arriving in Vancouver in 1904.

Today the final 1990 phase of the Pacific Centre Mall is here, with an office building designed by the Zeidler Roberts Partnership.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu N429

Posted November 29, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

898 Seymour Street

Here’s Fred Cheeseman’s shiny new gas and service station on the north east corner of Seymour and Smithe, seen in this 1936 Vancouver Public Library image. Fred had built a new car dealership and service centre on Howe Street a a few years earlier, and the business was actually run by Francis G Cheeseman, Fred’s son. If the dates on these Frank Leonard pictures are correct, they didn’t hang around in the 1930s where construction was concerned. The image above dates from July 1936, and the one on the right from June of the same year. The new premises were known as Cheseman’s Safety Service Garage.

The service station lasted barely 20 years, and the Cheeseman family were no longer associated with it. In the mid 1950s Green and Weston ran the tire and parking part of the business, while D G Dunn operated the gas station.

In 1957 a parking garage replaced this building, joined a year later by another identical structure on Richards Street, linked at the upper level across the lane. In 2009 Vita, a 29 storey residential tower was completed here, joined a year later by its Symphony Tower cousin, at 32 storeys. They both sit above two parkades; one underground for the strata residents, and one above grade forming most of the building’s podium, offering public parking for Downtown visitors and in particular those attending the Orpheum Theatre across Seymour Street (with an entrance also on Granville Street).

Posted November 15, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1147 Howe Street

This 1933 image by Stuart Thomson shows Fred Cheeseman’s car dealership on Howe Street. Fred had garages in other locations; in the 1920s F G Cheeseman was owner of the Strathcona Garage on West 37th Avenue. In 1936 he built a new reinforced concrete garage in an art deco style on Seymour Street. Fred’s dealership was first here on Howe Street in 1931, as Cheesrman-Franklin, with Francis G Cheeseman shown as manager; Fred Cheeseman had already retired, and either died or moved away after 1930. We haven’t been able to find anything to tell us where Fred came from. Although he was working for Begg Motors from 1917, he seems to have been missed in the 1921 census.

Franklin was the make of cars they initially sold; before this they had been sold at Pacific and Granville. There were 253 North American automobile manufacturers in 1908. That had fallen to 44 by 1929, principally through mergers. Eighty per cent of output by 1929 was by the ‘big three’; General Motors, Chrysler and Ford. Auburn cars, sold here in 1933, hung on a bit longer – production ceased in 1937, along with Cord and Duisenberg Motors, controlled by the same company. Based in Auburn, Indiana, the art deco manufacturing plant is now a museum of the company’s production.

We know what the garage looked like inside; that was photographed as well. The ramp on the right has rollers and a gearbox under the rear wheels showing that it is a Bendix-Cowdrey brake testing machine.

By the late 1930s Oxford Motors had taken over these premises, agents for Morris, M.G, and Flying Standard cars, all built in England. Today the Pacific Cinemathique is here, an art cinema built in 1985 as part of a 13 storey office building designed by Eng & Wright.

CVA 99-4337 and  CVA 99-4336

Posted November 12, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Ellesmere Rooms – West Pender and Homer

The Ellesmere Rooms were unusual because they weren’t clad in fireproof materials, even in the 1940s, although that was the what the fire by-law generally required. The Ellesmere had been around a long time – the name was on the 1912 insurance maps, but it was noted as ‘formerly Douglas House’ in the Archives, and in 1901 it was shown as ‘Elesmere – Boarding’ and was three storeys on Pender and two behind.

The Ellesmere Rooms were described in J. S. Matthews Early Vancouver (Vol. I), 1932 as ”a tall wooden building…which is now used for cheap stores and offices. It was the first large ‘boarding house.” In 1889 it was Douglas House, run by Mrs. J M Douglas. The census shows that Mrs. J M Douglas was a 45-year-old widow in 1891, born in the USA, but not long after that entry she seems to have disappeared from the city. In the 1891 census there are a series of names associated with 439 Homer, headed by F Yorke, Stevedore. There’s a picture from 1890 (or thereabouts) that shows Mr. Yorke on the porch of the premises, on the hill of Homer Street. (He’s third from left, wearing the derby hat). He wasn’t just a stevedore, he ran a stevedoring company in Moodyville, across the inlet. By 1901 he had married, had moved to Victoria, and was a master mariner, with a tugboat business.

The other residents of the building had a variety of jobs, including clerks, a real estate agent, the manager of the BC Iron Works and Monsignor L’Abbe LaChasse. Alterations were carried out to the premises around this period, designed by N S Hoffar.

In 1894 it has become Elsmere House, and in 1896 Elesmere House, shown as being run by  Mrs. L Walsh. A year later it is listed as the Ellesmere, which is how the spelling stays, run by Mrs. Welsh. In the 1901 census Mrs. Loirisa Welsh was aged 60, a widow, still running the Ellesmere rooms with her daughter, Florence, who was 20. Mrs. Welsh had arrived in Canada in 1888, but her daughter arrived 5 years later; both were born in England. Mrs. Welsh had ten lodgers, including Emma Shand, a photographer and Stanley Kirby, a rancher.

At some point after the 1890 picture the entire building was lifted up so that retail stores could be inserted along Homer and Pender Streets. This looks to have been done in the later 1920s, although there seem to have been addresses here in office use earlier than that period.

This image is said to have been shot in 1948. On the corner you could leave your films for processing at the newsagents and tobacconist that had been Bert’s Cigar Box since the early 1930s. There was a watchmaker next door, on West Pender, and a laundry to the north, along Homer Street. In between was a locksmith, ‘Garry’s Lockeyist Shop’, while to the north was the Hollywood Café, and Lacey’s Sign Works. Those businesses were located here in the 1930s, and were here in 1940, but rapidly closed during the war. The Ellesmere Rooms name disappeared after 1938 when it was listed as vacant, and from the look of the building, and the window boxes, we think this was more likely taken in 1938, not 1948. In 1943 it was reported that a city inspector had condemned the building as a boarding house. The shops were still occupied in the building in 1950, though you can see a for sale sign on the building in a Walter Frost image taken that year, and the boarding house looks to be in a pretty poor state. There was a parking lot here for many years once the building was removed, and then in 1993 Central City Lodge was built, offering 112 rooms of supportive housing with 24 hour care and a meal service.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P642 and Bu P141

Posted November 5, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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First Baptist Church – Burrard Street (2)

We saw a very poor ‘before’ image of the First Baptist Church on Burrard a few years ago. Here is a better image, that captures the church before the dramatic change that’s coming to this location. The church has partnered with Westbank to create an expanded church hall, non-market housing, and a luxury condo tower at the back of the church that will pay for a full seismic upgrade of the building, estimated to cost over $25m.

The church was completed in 1911, designed by Burke, Horwood and White in a Gothic Revival style. It replaced an earlier church in Downtown., that in turn replaced one further east. In the image, from 1920, there were no street trees in this stretch of Burrard Street.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-1437

Posted November 1, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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