Archive for the ‘Downtown’ Category

West Pender Street – 1100 block, north side (1)

We’re looking east on West Pender, and the building on the left is still standing, although with a new screen of windows. In 1981 it still looked the same as when it was first built, in 1956. It was developed for Macmillan and Bloedel, the fast-growing forestry and pulp business. It was designed in-house by Dominion Construction, who had their structural engineer J McLaren, sign off on the design. Dominion’s president, Charles Bentall, also an engineer, had been in trouble with the AIBC for exactly the same issue, but the company continued to design their own perfectly well-designed buildings (without an accredited architect) for several years.

DA Architects designed the building seen next door today, the new Coast Hotel, opened just in time for the 2010 Olympics. The 1966 Shorehill Building beyond it (designed by McCarter, Nairne and Partners) can be seen more clearly in 1981 than it can today but it’s effectively unchanged. While the low buildings beyond from the 1950s have today been replaced with a hotel and office buildings, the United Kingdom Building, another 1950s tower, designed by Douglas Simpson, is still standing on the corner of Granville.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W19.16

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Drake Street – 500 block, north side

These four small cottages were replaced in 1980 by a two storey office building, designed (we think) by James K M Cheng. In 1997 it was converted to a residential facility by Covenant House, for at risk street youth. It started with 12 beds, and in 1997 expanded to 18. It’s due to be replaced soon with a much larger facility, and Covenant House have already completed a new building across the street to ensure continuity of operation, where they have replaced a 1908 building last used by the Immigrants Service Society.

The four cottages pre-date building permit records; numbered as 529 to 545 Drake, they first appeared in the street directory in 1892 as 515 to 527 Drake, (although, confusingly, 517 Drake was located across the lane to the east, which accounted for the need to renumber). These can reasonably be described as laborers cottages; the first residents were John McCarthy, a mariner in 515, George and John Telford, laborers at 519, Rich Vincent at 523 and John Morrison at 529, also listed as laborers. While Mr. McCarthy remained, by 1894 the other three were occupied by Charles Goodwin, (a tinsmith at the nearby CPR workshops) Arthur Sayer, a laborer and Hannah Morris, a widow. It looks like these were rental properties, as 515 was vacant a year later, and Mrs. Goggin and Thomas Dodge (both cooks) and Mrs Morrison (a laundress) had replaced the three residents of 1896, (although we suspect Mrs Morris and Mrs. Morrison are the same person). Thomas Dodge and Mrs. Morrison stayed another year, and Mrs Morrison, now listed as a widow was still here in 1898. Victor Turgeon, a ship’s carpenter lived in 515 that year.

In 1901, when we can discover a little more about some of the residents (as it was census year) Eugene Robinson, a carpenter was in 515. Victor Turgeon had moved to 519, Chong Hee’s laundry was at 523 and Hanna Morrison, widow of John was still at 529. We were reasonably certain we wouldn’t be able to trace Chong Hee – almost no Chinese residents had any information in the census beyond their name, as very few could speak enough English to answer the questions. Victor Turgeon was recorded; he was French, but his age was not listed. Either the cottage was amazingly crowded, or Victor was inaccurately recorded (or had a side job). He was a laborer, and so were many of the 24 lodgers and 2 Chinese cooks listed under his household. As several seem to have been listed in the street directory as living at the Golden Gate hotel nearby, (which would make much more sense) we suspect the census collector made an error on his forms.

Strangely, Hannah Morrison is missing, but Eugene Robinson, aged 41, from Ontario was listed, with his American wife, Alice, and their three children; Ina (17, a milliner), Arthur 9 and Zeeuma who was 5. All three children were born in the US, and the 1911 census tells us they had arrived in 1897 (and the youngest child is recorded as Zele). Hannah Morrison continued to live here until 1905.

Names associated with the houses continued to come and go, and in 1955 (the year before the picture was taken) the residents were Alphonso F Felder on the right in 529, (he was porter with the CPR, and married to Patricia.) William M Wright, another porter,  was next door at 531 and the London Laundry was where the Chinese Laundry had been over 50 years earlier, managed by Ying Mark. Jay M McAdow who was retired was in 545 on the left.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu P508.90

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Posted October 17, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Granville Street from the air

The alignment of these aerial shots isn’t quite perfect – although the streets match up almost ideally, we’ve had to tilt the ‘after’ shot to make the streets match. The contemporary shot is on the website of aerial photography company Peak Aerials, taken in siummer 2016, while the before shot was taken ninety years earlier, in 1926 – one of the earliest aerial images available of the city.

There are only a handful of buildings still identifiably the same in both images. Two thirds of the way up, and to the right, the Lightheart Brothers apartment building, today called Brookland Court, is still offering apartments, these days as affordable non-market units. There’s a row of warehouse buildings on the right hand edge of the image which were all built in a few years in the early 20th Century when Canadian Pacific released the land for development. The building on the corner of Helmcken was developed by Leek and Co in 1910.

Along Granville Street there area series of early 1900s hotels and rooming houses, all still standing today and almost unchanged from when they were built. The majority were designed by Parr and Fee, who recycled the design with a side light well or two, and a façade of white glazed bricks and centre pivoted windows. There are several construction cranes showing in 2016, and the towers they were associated with have mostly been completed. There are three or four more already under construction or in the planning stage, including a series of three towers along Hornby Street in the bottom left of the picture, including one 54 storeys tall. A new office building is under construction as part of the same project, across the lane on Burrard Street. In future there will be more change, and more towers, as the intent is to remove the two loop ramps (although not the main offramps) and replace them with an at grade standard junction, creating two large development sites.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Van Sc P68 and Peak Aerials.

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Posted October 14, 2019 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

West Pender Street east from Bute

This image was taken around 1910, and is titled “View of Pender Street looking west, showing Elysium Hotel and Hoffmeister Bros. garage” Actually it’s looking east – because the Elysium Hotel was on the south side of Pender. We looked at the history of the hotel in a recent post. It was designed in 1909 by Sholto Smith, with the developer described as ‘C C Smith’ in the permit – although we haven’t found anyone with those initials in the city at the time.

On the left is another 1909 development, but this one more modest. Fred Hoffmeister developed the $5,000 repair garage here, designing the building himself. (His brother Henry also designed and developed repair garages, and the Hoffmeister family had extensive real estate holdings, both as investments, and associated with their engineering and car repair businesses). Although other Hoffmeister family members were in the city in subsequent years, Fred appears to have moved on. The garage flourished, with the Hoffmeisters (whose office was in the prestigious Winch Building) selling a range of both electric and gasoline powered brands.

Here’s a 1911 image from the Vancouver Sun showing both the electric powered Waverley and The Marmon and Thomas Flyer gasoline vehicles. The Waverley was produced from 1908 to 1914 in Indianapolis although it had been built for a few years before that as the Pope-Waverley. It used Edison batteries, and the models shown here could seat two. The cars were popular with lady drivers, as they didn’t require hand cranking to start them. The Marmon was produced from 1902 through to 1933, and was also built in Indianapolis. The first Indy 500 was run in 1911, and a Marmon won. The company introduced a variety of new features, including the first rear view mirror. The Thomas Flyer was a big car, seating seven, built in Buffalo, New York. The company existed from 1902 to 1919. A 1907 Model 35 with 4 cylinders and 60 horsepower won the 1908 New York to Paris Race, the first and only around-the-world automobile race ever held. (The car is on show in Reno, Nevada these days).

After the war the building was used by the Soldiers Civil Retraining establishment. Canada was one of the first Allied countries to implement a system of retraining for its wounded soldiers, and by 1920, when they were using the premises, 26,000 wounded ex-servicemen were being retrained.

On the right in the foregroound is a house designed by Crowe and Wilson for Mrs Lipsett, who apparently built it herself, if the permit is to believed. It cost $3,200, which was a substantial sum. her husband, Edward, was originally from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and became an important manufacturer in Vancouver, making sails on Water Street. He added to his business over the years, by 1914 working from a larger building and described as manufacturers of canvas goods – sails, tents, tarpaulins, aprons, coats and overalls.

On the right today are a row of office buildings. Closest to us is 1166 West Pender, built in 1974, designed by Paine and Associates, and already proposed to be demolished and redeveloped with a building over twice as tall. Next door is a 1985 office designed by Hamilton Doyle in 1984, and there are two red brick clad buildings from 1980 and 1960 beyond that.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives SGN 1577

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Posted September 30, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Howe Street – 500 block, west side (2)

We’re looking north on Howe from Dunsmuir in 1936. On the left is the Angelus Confectionery store, in a building dating back to at least 1889. We looked at its history in an earlier post. The corner on the left today has a 1976 fourteen storey office tower, but an earlier proposal (in 1971) would have seen a nine storey parkade, with a basement restaurant/cabaret. That project was rejected – the architect who proposed the building was Frank Musson and Associates, so it’s quite likely that they also designed the office tower that was subsequently approved, known as The Good Earth Building. While it’s a candiadate for redevelopment one day as a bigger office building, it underwent a 2006 retrofit of heating, cooling and lighting systems that saw a 32% improvement in energy efficiency – at a cost that has already been paid back today.

Down the street on the west side were (and are) a series of low-rise low density buildings which surprisingly have yet to consolidated and redeveloped. Past the Angelus Confectionery premises was an office and store designed by Dalton & Eveleigh and built in 1921 for E Bloomfield by H A Wiles. It replaced two earlier houses. The developer was probably Edgar Bloomfield, a barrister, who lived in Point Grey.

In 1912 J J Grey hired architect A E Cline to design a single storey retail store on the next lot north. John J Gray was a real estate agent who had developed other investment property in the city. Given the amount of change in the Downtown in the past century, he and Mr. Cline would probably both be rather surprised that the store is still standing today.

On the right in the 1936 picture is the Hambro Building built around 1923. Before it was built there was a house here that was the Japanese consulate. Today this is the northern part of the Pacific Centre Mall, completed in 1990 with an 18 storey office tower designed by Zeidler Roberts Partnership. Beyond it is Pender Place, a pair of identical towers designed by Underwood, McKinley, Wilson & Smith and completed in 1973.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str N283.

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Posted September 26, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Howe Street – 500 block, west side (1)

This 1981 image shows a block that really hasn’t changed in nearly 40 years, despite being ‘underbuilt’. On the corner is a 1978 tower designed by Underwood, McKinley, Wilson and Smith. It replaced an earlier building that we looked at in an earlier post (and as it looked a little earlier). The new tower was developed by Grander Developments, the Canadian arm of UK Property developers Hammerson.

Across the lane is a 1935 Art Deco building designed by Gardiner and Mercer. It started life as the Pacific Athletic Club, developed by Jack Pattison, and more recently became the Executive Building. In the 1970s it was home to Maximillians Club and Symphony Hall, but today it’s office space. It’s bigger than it appears on the street, with six floors tiered back from Howe Street.

There are pictures from 1936 of the interior, including this one. There was a badminton court, a very comfortable lounge on the main floor, and 2 squash courts on the top floor. To watch squash you had to climb up a ladder and go along a walkway in order to sit on plank seats behind the courts. The courts were repurposed as a second gymnasium after the war.

The membership numbers boomed after 1947 when it became legal for the club to serve alcohol to members. After prohibition only a limited number of beer parlours were able to sell liquor to the public, and operated under very restrictive rules. Nightclubs (theoretically) couldn’t serve alcohol until the mid 1960s – patrons smuggled their own drinks in and kept them under the table.

Next door is a 1928 building that by 1981 had a contemporary glazed façade replacing the original.

This block of Howe Street became commercial in the 1920s – it started life as a mostly residential street, as this 1913 image shows. Traffic appears to have been busier than it is today, but the caption explains that it was the Rotary Club leaving the Compressed Gas Company’s offices for the Royal Nurseries on August 12th.

In 1981 there was (and still is) a relatively tall, narrow office building from 1966 at 549 Howe, which replaced a store developed by motor engineer Harry Hoffmeister in 1913. There’s a 1923 two storey retail store next door at 551 and a three storey building from 1929 to the south at 555, and a single storey 1933 building next to that.

The next single storey retail building is the oldest on the block, from 1912, developed by real estate agent J J Grey and originally designed by A E Cline, costing $6,000 to build.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W04.30 CVA 99-4465 and CVA Bu P535

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Posted September 23, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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West Georgia Street – 1100 block, north side (2)

This large slab office, seen here in 1981, has been recently replaced by the Trump Tower. It started life as the Shell Oil building, completed in 1957. It was built by Dominion Construction, who designed it in-house. Although there was an architect employed by the company, engineer John McLaren was credited with the design, although it should have had an accredited architect to sign off. It was initially headquarters for Shell’s Western Division. Initially established in Canada in Montreal, Shell, like other North American oil companies established a new office in Vancouver, then moved operations to Alberta some years later as oil exploration and exploitation shifted the centre of Canadian activity. (The company headquarters moved there from Toronto in 1984). The office uses continued, with the building apparently renamed as the Weststar Building, (although that could be an error, as the Westar Building was next door).

Plans were approved to reuse the abandoned building. In 1994 it was proposed for reuse as the Newport City Club – but that project failed part way through redevelopment. The Vancouver Sun reported the project: “Six floors of the Weststar Building on 1188 West Georgia are being converted into the Newport City Club that will house three restaurants, a health club, meeting and reading rooms. Final approvals have been received for construction in north Squamish of the companion Newport Ridge Golf and Country Club, a 5,800-yard executive-type course, 900 residences (single units and townhouses) and a 100,000 square foot clubhouse. “Due to geographic limitations there’s only 90 acres for golf we’re developing a course with 7 par-threes and 11 par-fours,” says Newport vice-president Peter Heenan, a Vancouver businessman.” The project was developed by Andrew Leung, who had previously developed resorts and golf courses in the Dominican Republic, and the financial backing was supposedly coming from three Hong Kong businesspeople.

By 1996, the 1957 structure had been stripped of its exterior walls and interior finishes, but within a year the project was in financial trouble, and soon in receivership with a number of court actions and builders liens.  A new proposal was submitted to replace it with a 27 storey office tower to be called Golden Ocean Plaza, but the project never proceeded. The site would sit as a vacant and derelict frame for many years. It was later owned by Cadillac Fairview, and in 2003 they sold it to the Holborn Group, who had already acquired the adjacent Terasen Building. The Trump Tower (with no financial involvement by the Trump organization; just a management and branding role), took several years to develop. Initial designs were rejected, until the Arthur Erickson inspired ‘twisting’ tower was approved, with an initial sales launch as the Residences at Ritz-Carlton, but the market for luxury residential towers in 2008 was depressed, and the deal fell through, to be relaunched four years later under the Trump brand, finally opening in 2016.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W14.13.

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Posted September 19, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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