Archive for the ‘Downtown’ Category

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 The Greenwell’s moved on and by 1911 had been replaced by John McKissock.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

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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

West Hastings and Howe – sw corner

This 1927 image shows the shiny new premises of Messrs Macaulay, Nicolls and Maitland, one of the city’s more successful real estate companies. We looked at the history of the company when we posted about company founder J P Nicolls’ house. Nicolls, originally from Cornwall, teamed up with C H Macaulay in 1898 to found a real estate and insurance company. Charles Macaulay was from New Brunswick, and his wife Ethel from PEI. Only three years after the firm was formed, Charles could already afford to have a live-in domestic servant. In 1901 Charles was 32, Ethel was 24, his son Douglas was nine, Donald was two, and their domestic, Margret (sic) Featherstone from Quebec was 31, and her 17 year old daughter Ruby also living with the family.

This new building came after Ronald Maitland had become a partner in the company, in 1922. Ron seems to have come to Vancouver with his parents as a small boy; he was born in 1886, and already living in the city by the 1901 census.

The building was shown as being commissioned by Royal Securities Corp, presumably the Montreal based investment bankers, who had offices on West Hastings. It was designed by Sharp and Thompson. It’s just possible that this wasn’t accurate: Macaulay, Nicolls and Maitland were also each a shareholder in the Royal Plate Glass Insurance Company of Canada, formed in 1926 with three other partners. However, it could be that the ‘Royal’ connection is just a coincidence – Macaulay was general manager of the West Hastings based insurance firm while retaining his real estate partnership.

In 1991 the site was redeveloped as Prime Capital Place a modest brick-clad office building from an era when red brick cladding and midrise office buildings were a popular preference in the business district.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N298

YWCA – Burrard and Dunsmuir (2)

We saw an earlier version of a YWCA building in this location in an earlier post. This later building was much bigger; and didn’t really last very long. we think our picture dates from the late 1970s or possibly early ’80s. The low-rise part of the building here dated back to 1951 and was designed by Sharp, Thompson, Berwick, Pratt, while the residential tower was added over a podium with a pool and gym, designed by Vladimir Plavsic & Associates and completed in 1969. In 1995 there was replacement YWCA hotel on Beatty Street, and a new YWCA (designed in-house by Bentall’s Charles Bentall Architects) on Hornby Street. Two years later the old YWCA building seen here was imploded.

After a few years delay the site became part of Bentall Five, a new office tower built in two phases – the top 11 floors were completed in 2007, three years after the first 22 (when sufficient tenants had been found to make the additional space a viable scheme). To enable the phased construction to occur, a staging area had to be retained, and that’s where Musson Cattell Mackey’s Cactus Club Café was built once their design for the office tower was complete.

Posted August 28, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1000 block West Pender Street

There are two buildings here that were replaced in the 1960s, seen here in a 1931 Vancouver Public Library image. On the left is the Essex Rooms at 1033, while next door were the Duchess Rooms, at 1025. These were apparently developed by the A S French Auto Co in 1910, as a $55,000 ‘garage and rooms’, designed by ‘Blackmore’. The Essex Rooms were described as a warehouse when their building permit was issued in 1909 to Crickmay Bros. who hired Honeyman and Curtis to design the $14,000 investment. The main floor was occupied by the BC Anchor Fence Co when the building was completed. Baynes and Horie were the contractors, while Hemphill Brothers built Austin French’s building.

In 1911 the Daily World announced “The A. S. French Auto Co. are now occupying their new commodious quarters at 1027 Pender Street West, and have the largest fireproof and most up to date garage and sales rooms in British Columbia. They have a storage capacity for 600 cars, and carry besides a full line of accessories. The building is of reinforced concrete, absolutely fireproof, and with two floors, 66×132 feet In size. Each floor has a level driveway entrance, the lower being on Seaton street, and the upper on Pender. When the outside decorations are completed, the building will present an extremely attractive appearance. “Any one wanting a Napier car this season will have to hustle.” said Mr. A. S. French, “as the allotment for this year Is almost sold out. Nearly all the cars allotted us are in now, only five or six carloads remaining to be delivered. I have no idea how many Napiers have been sold in Vancouver without looking up the records, but as an instance of the way they are going I might mention that last week I sold over $42,000 worth, including the sales of Saturday night after dinner, which amounted to $19,500. We are open for business day and night. Besides the Napier we also handle the Stoddard – Dayton cars, which I consider the best car on the market for the money. The Napier is a British built car.”

Fred and Alf Crickmay were customs brokers, The had offices in the Pacific Securities Building, across from the customs building and overlooking the harbour. Fred had arrived from England in 1886, and by 1901 were already successful in the brokering business. Fred shared a house that year with his two older sisters. By 1912 he was also managing director of the BC Anchor Fence Co, and had moved to Shaughnessy Heights. Alfred had arrived in 1888, and was married with two children in 1901, with a 19 year old Japanese servant called Verna. By 1912 he had moved to North Vancouver.

A few years after construction in 1915 the Duchess Rooms had become the Driard Hotel, managed by J K Ramsay, while the Essex Rooms had Mrs E T Armstrong as proprietor. A S French continued in business, switching to selling the Overland cars in 1916 (at only $850), and in 1922 the Chandler, Cleveland and Liberty Six lines of vehicles. His father, Captain George French (whose warehouse we saw in an earlier post), Austin, and Austin’s son, (also George) were all associated with the company.

In 1978 the 26 storey Oceanic Plaza office building was completed here. A later cousin to the Guinness Tower across the street, it was developed by British Pacific Building Ltd and designed by Charles Paine and Associates.

Posted August 24, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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800 block Beatty Street – north side

We’re looking up Beatty Street from Smithe Street. These warehouse buildings date back over a century, and this 1926 image shows them already looking well used. On the corner is the $25,000 1910 warehouse designed by Thomas Hooper for J McMillan – although the insurance map and the street directory identify the company as W J McMillan and Co Ltd. Next door, in the same year, Thomas Hooper also designed the warehouse for E G Prior and Co, costing $21,000. The third warehouse in the row was another Hooper design, also in 1910 costing $22,000 for J B Campbell. That was shown (inaccurately) as being used by the McCampbell Storage Co on the insurance map. Baynes and Horie had the contracts to build all three buildings.

The McMillan warehouse was associated with the Saskatchewan Flour Mills Co. but was developed by a firm of wholesale grocers. W J McMillan was born in Restigouche, in New Brunswick, in 1858 and came west, initially to Sacramento, then Oregon before Victoria in 1883. He arrived in Vancouver in 1888 as a produce merchant, although he had already acquired land in the city. As he moved from selling produce to wholesaling his brother, Robert McMillan became a partner, and the business incorporated in 1907 adding E J Deacon as Vice-President. The business prospered, and they shipped as far as Yukon and Alaska. Before they moved to this new building they occupied one on Alexander Street.

We have also seen the earlier building occupied by E G Prior’s hardware company. Prior was a Yorkshireman who originally trained as a mining engineer, and worked in the Nanaimo coal mines from 1873. He was appointed Inspector of Mines in 1877, living in Victoria, representing that city in parliament from 1886 (and establishing his company a few years earlier on Yates Street). Prior was elected an MP in 1886 but lost his seat in 1901 because of violations of the Electoral Act. In 1902 he became Premier of BC, only to be dismissed in 1903 following a charge of conflict of interest by ensuring his hardware company received Government business. He remained an MLA until his defeat in 1904, the same year he failed to be elected to a federal seat. He was appointed lieutenant-governor of BC in 1919, only to die in office in 1920.

John Bell Campbell was born in Woodville, Ontario, and his father moved from there to Vancouver in 1891, having sold his carriage building business and retiring, eventually joined by all five sons. J B was the eldest, initially training as a blacksmith and then working for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. He later moved to Atchison and worked for the Missouri Pacific Railway. In 1898 he moved to Vancouver, with the initial intention of heading to the Klondike. Instead he opened a storage business, growing to the point of building his own warehouse. In 1910 he organized The Campbell Storage Company, Limited, which was incorporated with him as the president; his brother, Gregor L Campbell, as the vice president and his son, Charles E Campbell, as the secretary and manager; while his son, John G, and brother Charles were directors. In 1921 they sold out to Mainland Terminals, part of C P Railways operations, who had another warehouse on Beatty Street. The Campbell family were very active in the city’s life. J B Campbell was elected alderman for four years between 1907 and 1911. He stood for a provincial seat in 1909, but wasn’t elected. In 1910 he was made shipping master for the port of Vancouver. His extraordinarily comprehensive 1913 biography revealed that “Mr. Campbell is five feet eleven inches in height and weighs one hundred and eighty-five pounds.”

His son, Charles went on to own the Vancouver Daily World for three years having worked for the family business from 1910 until it was sold. Previously he had been part-owner of the Sun, and after selling the World in 1924 he founded another paper, the Star, only to sell that after 6 weeks to Victor Odlum. He moved to Alberta, bought the Edmonton Bulletin in 1925 and stayed for many years.

The McMillan warehouse today is home to a college offering courses in gaming, graphics, fashion and interior design. The Prior building was added to and converted to 21 artist live/work strata apartments in 1999, while the Campbell building was one of the earliest residential conversions of an industrial building, with 37 rental apartments built in 1989.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N258

518 and 522 Beatty Street

We saw these warehouses on Beatty Street as they were in 1927 in an earlier post; here they are as they were in 1974.

On the left is Storey and Campbell’s 1911 warehouse, designed by W T Whiteway which cost $60,000 to build. Jonathan Storey and Roderick Campbell, Jr., were both from Ontario, and in 1892 founded Storey and Campbell which began by selling leather items like harnesses, saddles, and trunks. They initially acquired the saddle-making business of D S Wilson, who moved to Los Angeles; Storey and Campbell expanded the scope of the business over the years – in 1921 their listing said they dealt in shoe findings, leather harness and saddlery, trunks, bags, valises and gloves. The street directory makes it clear that this was a significant manufacturing operation that was large enough to employ a chauffeur and an elevator operator as well as many saddlemakers and leather workers. The advert on the right is from 1932, when they had added golf bags to their range.

The historic building statement claims “As times changed and horses and wagons were replaced, the company also became sole agents in British Columbia for Studebaker commercial trucks. They eventually covered the area from Vancouver to Winnipeg.” We can find no evidence of that at all – a series of dealerships had the Studebaker brand sales over the years – none of them were Storey and Campbell.

In 1901 Jonathan Storey was aged 32, two years older than Roderick Campbell, who was married to Annie. The street directory said he was called Johnathan and put him in a new house at 1771 Haro Street, the same as the Campbell family, with the saddlery business based at 154 West Hastings. Annie had previously been Annie Storey, and the partners were brothers-in-law.

The Campbells moved to a house on the 2000 block of Haro, but Roderick died unexpectedly in 1919, after an operation to remove an impacted tooth. His will was complex, and led to an internal family split. Annie Campbell had to sue her brother, as the Daily World reported “Mrs. Annie Campbell, 1001 Georgia street west, widow of the late Mr. Rod Campbell, is asking the assistance of the court in an attempt to compel her brother, Jonathan Storey, the defendant, to sell property, which they own jointly, and with the proceeds to purchase her interest in the firm of Storey & Campbell Limited. Mrs. Campbell estimates her interest at $159,200.

Following the death of her husband, November 22, 1919, Mrs. Campbell stated today she discussed with her brother the proposal that he should acquire her interest in the business. The agreement was verbal, she said, and was made during the course a trip in her automobile in July, 1920″.

We don’t know how the case was settled, but Annie lived on until 1947, and in 1921 Jonathan Storey was still managing director of the company (as he was in 1951), and was also running the Vancouver Trunk and Bag Limited based on Charles Street. William A Cambell was vice-president of the company, and lived in the Hotel Vancouver – although as far as we can tell he wasn’t a relative of Roderick.

Like some others on the street, the warehouse was constructed with a steel-frame and exterior brick walls, which provided a measure of fire protection. Unusually for the time it had a sprinkler system and was connected with the fire department. There was a showroom and offices on the ground floor and mezzanine. Loading and unloading occurred at the lane and railway tracks, with a large freight elevator next to the loading dock. The building’s storefront underwent alteration in 1940, designed by architect Thomas Kerr, known for the design of several local theatres. Storey and Campbell remained in the building until 1951, when they sold the dry goods business to the Gordon Mackay Company Ltd. of Toronto, reportedly the largest textile distributor in Canada at the time. The building was converted to 48 apartments in 1996, designed by K C Mooney.

Next door, in the centre of the picture, today’s Bowman Lofts building was converted to residential use in 2006, 100 years after it was first built. The original building was five storeys (although seven on the lane as there’s a significant grade drop, and the rail sidings at the back of the warehouses were over 20 feet lower than Beatty Street). It was developed by Richard Bowman, whose history we examined in relation to another warehouse he built on Homer Street. He operated Bowman’s storage, with a warehouse on Powell Street, but this was never occupied by that operation. We haven’t been able to track the architect of the original structure, but seven years later another two storeys were added, designed by F Rayner and costing $5,000, but the building you see today was severely damaged by fire in 1929 and rebuilt in 1944 with a new façade designed by Townley and Matheson.

The building was initially occupied by two manufacturing companies owned by prominent businessman W J Pendray: the British Columbia Soap Works and British America Paint Company Ltd. (BAPCO), both headquartered near Pendray’s home in Victoria. The soap works was sold to American commercial giant Lever Brothers after Pendray’s death in 1913. The building remained the local warehouse for BAPCO Paints for many decades. It was also associated with the Vancouver Rubber Co, later Gutta Percha & Rubber Co. Ltd. The flammable nature of these industrial products was the cause of a fire that gutted the building in 1929. A third company, Tilden, Gurney and Co also occupied the building when it was first built. They were an Ontario stove manufacturer, based in a huge building complex in Hamilton.

The Paint Company commissioned the 1944 rebuild, but later the building changed to clothing manufacturing and offices. A two-storey addition, set back from the facade, was constructed as part of the building’s rehabilitation and conversion to condos, designed by Ankenman Marchand and Gair Williamson Architects.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-6