Archive for the ‘Downtown’ Category

Robson and Thurlow – north side

The building on the corner of Robson and Thurlow today is Joe Fortes restaurant, with a roof-top patio and a reputation for great seafood. Underneath there are smaller retail units with a shoe store on the corner; back in 1969 when this picture was taken the corner restaurant was the Traveller restaurant and steak house – licenced, and open 24 hours. It made no lasting impact on the written records of the city – the Archives have a place mat from 1960, and otherwise there’s nothing. The 1955 street directory show the Manhattan Foods restaurant here, and the menu from a few year’s earlier (in the Museum of Vancouver) suggests that like Joe Fortes it was a seafood restaurant. Despite being here for several years, that establishment also has no other online records associated with it. In 1955 it was run by Charles and Beatrice Bennett, and earlier, in 1948 it was run by L A Hobbs, (and we also can find Mary Shupenia and Ann Smith, the waitresses , Ann Loveless, the cook, and Beatrice Cook and Frances Morrison, the dishwashers in the street directory).

Next door was India House gifts. In the 1950s the Art Emporium was here, run by Frederick Michell, and next door was the Yarn Barn that had replaced the Normandie Beauty Shoppe run by Mrs T M Bayzand which shared a doorway in 1955 with P Campbell’s Modern Barbers. In 1969 the New York Barbershop was in the other half of the 2-storey 1926 building. The corner building and the two single storey retail units were redeveloped in 1985. We think that all the single storey buildings in the ‘before’ picture were built in the 1930s.

These obviously weren’t the first buildings here. When the West End was first developed, this was a residential stretch of street. Mr Whitehead built two houses on the corner, fronting onto Thurlow, and designed and constructed by Thomas Hunter in 1901. J M Whitehead moved into one house, and B Douglas, widow, into the other. Mr Whitehead was chief clerk for the BC Packers Association, and he was still living in his house in 1922, when he was the general manager of the BC Fishing & Packing Co. In 1912 he appears to have been appointed as the Belgian consul to British Columbia. The two houses remained residential into the 1930s. One was occupied for many years by Reinhart Hoffmeister, who built several Granville Street properties

Next door to the west D M Fraser built one house in 1901, and another on the other half of the lot (where the 1926 building was constructed) in 1904. The first house was occupied by Mr. Fraser himself, with another contractor, W Brehaut. By 1922 the second house had added a retail use at the front, the Robson Dairy, although there was still a house behind.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-402

Posted July 13, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Dunsmuir Viaduct – western end

As the plans evolve to remove the only vestiges that were built of the 1960s Downtown freeway plans, the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts, this image shows that even the parts we have today have evolved over time. Back in 1974 the viaducts had been completed for a couple of years, and rapid transit into the Downtown was still just a very good idea that hadn’t actually been built.

The row of warehouses on Beatty Street ended abruptly in a warehouse advertising French Maid products. We have no idea what those were, and don’t bother trying to research that on the internet! Where the new Chinatown Stadium SkyTrain station was completed in 1985 there was a vacant site, with a slip road heading north onto Beatty Street from the viaduct.

The recently completed 564 Beatty Street office building, a heritage warehouse with a four storey addition, hides the Sun Tower, but we were able to line the image up because the light fittings haven’t moved and are now over 40 years old. These days they help light up the separated bike path and the bike share station that represents the most recent addition to the corner.

All this will change again soon as the viaducts get replaced. Dunsmuir Street will see the start of a new elevated active transportation bridge (bike and pedestrian use only) that will run through and past some of the new buildings to be constructed between this location and False Creek. Some vehicular access will continue here, on a two-way street to link to Citadel Parade, but mostly this will be the Downtown connection to an elevated linear park.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-64

Posted July 6, 2017 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

Granville Street – 400 block east side (2)

This picture was taken in June 1945, showing a No. 11 Stanley Park car turning onto Pender Street from Granville Street. The #11 travelled along Kingsway, then Main Street and along Cordova before West Pender and ending up turning in Stanley Park. Streetcar #406 was a PCC, ‘President’s Conference Committee’ car, designed just before the second war to offer a North America rival to the ever-expanding automobile.

Only one Canadian manufacturer built the cars, Canadian Car and Foundry, and in 1939 when the new design was first ordered for Vancouver they were rapidly shifting production to build Hawker Hurricane aircraft for the war effort. Only 36 of the new cars arrived in the city through the war years. Around the time this picture was taken there were serious questions being asked about whether the investment in replacing all of the other vehicles, (like the one on the right of the picture), and maintaining the tracks and electrical equipment was worthwhile. Instead the decision was taken to move “from rails to rubber” and replace the network with buses – in the case of Vancouver those would be electric trolley buses.

The decision was compounded by the fact that streetcars ran down the centre of the road, not at the curb like buses. Getting off and on was becoming increasingly dangerous with the rise of the automobile. The decision to replace Granville Bridge with a new structure added to the potential cost as new tracks would have to be laid. The conversion from streetcars effectively left the network intact, but with trolley buses.

The buildings here are all featured elsewhere on this blog; on the right is Gould and Champney’s Rogers Block for Jonathan Rogers, completed in 1912. Beyond it is the 1908 Canadian Bank of Commerce designed by Darling and Pearson, and across West Hastings is the 1929 Royal Bank building designed by S G Davenport. One thing that unites these buildings is that none were designed in Vancouver. Gould and Champney were from Seattle (although they opened a Vancouver office managed by Albert Wood, and A Warren Gould who designed the building was originally born in PEI), Darling and Pearson practiced in Toronto and S G Davenport was the Royal Bank’s chief architect, based in Montreal.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 586-3876.

Posted July 3, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

Winch Building – West Hastings Street

R V Winch developed one of the largest and most prestigious office buildings of its day. Five storeys, over a basement, designed in the Beaux-Arts Classical style, it was completed in 1911. Mr. Winch, originally from Ontario, started in the city as a meat and game dealer with a store on Cordova Street. We looked at his second retail location on that street in 1890. He had hired Thomas Hooper to design a retail store in 1889, and he returned to Hooper and Watkins in 1907 to design this building. Construction took 3 years, was completed in 1911, and cost a reported $700,000. It was described as “an entirely modern Class A office building, the first of its kind in British Columbia” It’s something of a departure from some of Thomas Hooper’s other buildings – here he was given a generous budget (initially costs were estimated at $380,000) so he designed a stone-clad building (albeit on a steel and reinforced concrete frame) that would look at home in London or Paris.

There was no cost-cutting on the interiors either; the interior woodwork was carried out by Stewart & Co of Guelph, Ontario, although most of the other trades were local. It was one of the earliest reinforced concrete buildings to be erected in the city, closely following the adjacent Post Office, (also completed in 1911, which is probably when our BC Archives image was taken) The six-storey building featured 312 steel grillage beams, granite piers and reinforced concrete floors. It contained 130 offices and two Otis Fensom elevators. The stone for the façade came from the Fox Island Quarry at the mouth of Jervis Inlet.

Initially there were many businesses with their offices here, including of course Mr. Winch himself. During the 1920s an increasing number of the offices were rented as federal government facilities, and the building was eventually purchased by the Federal Government for a number of departments in 1928. In 1939 the new owners added more office space, but reduced the interior design of the original by removing the first floor’s glazed domed ceiling seen in this early interior shot.

While still a Federal Building, and used as offices on the upper floors, the building was dramatically transformed in 1983 by Henriquez Architects with Toby Russell Blackwell into the Sinclair Centre, with retail stores as well as the government offices around a central atrium that combines four heritage structures.

Image Sources: BC Archives and City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1376-14

Posted June 22, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Silver and Avalon Hotels – West Pender Street

These two hotels are now joined together, but started life as rivals. The Silver, on the left gets its name from the developer, W S Silver. Designed by Grant & Henderson, it was completed in 1914, and was built by J J Disette for $30,000. The Avalon is five years older, and was designed by Parr and Fee for McLennan and Campbell. You can still see the Parr and Fee central pivot windows, in the $35,000 building constructed by Purdy & Lonergan. (Contract Record published the price as $45,000). When it started life it was known as the Savoy Rooms, run by Mrs Lillie Schadt, with a number of commercial tenants: the Mail Publishing Co, the Vancouver & Provincial Brokerage Co, Modern Office Supply Co, Upton & Heighton, real estate agents and Newmarch Cooper & Co, manufacturers agents.

William F Silver was from England, born in 1861, listed as a broker in the 1911 census. He had arrived in Canada in 1903 with wife Isabelle, who was shown as a year younger than her husband and born in Ontario. The Silvers had spent some time in the US, as the 1911 census shows sons William, a 24-year-old plumber, Kenneth, 23, a farmer, Neil, 21, and Hugh, aged only 8, had all been born there. Edith Brand, their 13-year-old niece also lived with them in Burnaby, on the corner of Kingsway and Silver Avenue. In 1900 they had been living in King County, Washington, where William was a life insurance agent.

The US Census for 1900 tells us that Isabelle’s mother was from New York and her father from Scotland. The three oldest sons had been born in Wisconsin, but there was a 1-year old son called Hugh born in Washington. (Either he died, and the family had a subsequent son also called Hugh, or the 1911 Canadian census recorded his age inaccurately). The birth certificate of one of the older sons tells us the family were living in West Superior, Douglas, Wisconsin, and that Isabelle’s maiden name was Isabelle McKinnen. Their marriage certificate from their wedding in 1863 shows that Isabelle was Jane Isabella McKinnon, born in 1860, her father was Laughlin McKinnon, and that she was a year older than her husband. Isabel Silver’s death was recorded in 1937, when her birth was shown as 1858 and her father’s name as Lachlan.  William F Silver died in December 1943, also in Burnaby.

McLennan and Campbell appear to be a development partnership of convenience, rather than an established business. Although there were many McLennans in the city, our guess would be that it was R P McLennan, the hardware mogul originally from Nova Scotia. In partnership with Edward McFeely of Ontario he built a huge warehouse on Cordova Street, and another on Water Street. Another company building was also designed by Parr and Fee and built by Purdy and Lonergan a few years earlier. There were hundred of Campbells in the city, so establishing which one developed the building is impossible without a clearer indication of a connection to an individual.

Over the years the upper floors have retained their residential use as the Silver Rooms and Avalon Apartments, (the Savoy name having been dropped by 1920). Retail uses have come and gone on the main floor; in the 1950s Haskins and Elliott sold bicycles and A E Marwell sold artist’s supplies. The cycle shop had been there over a decade.

Today the two buildings operate as a single privately owned SRO Hotel. The Avalon Hotel was purchased by Mario & Mina Angelicola in the late 1970’s. Our image dates from 1981. It was turned into an SRO (single room occupancy) in the late 1990’s and houses approximately 85 low-income tenants today.  Jenny & Josh Konkin, grandchildren of Mario and Mina have managed the hotel since 2010, also establishing Whole Way House in 2013 to provide support to the residents.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E16.13

Vancouver Club – West Hastings Street

The front of the Vancouver Club hasn’t changed in over 40 years, as this 1976 image shows. In fact, it hasn’t changed much in over 100 years, from 1914 when it was completed to Sharp and Thompson’s design. The back of the building is a different matter. When it was built it sat on top of an escarpment, looking out over the railway tracks and wharves. The design was distinctly ‘back of house’ as nobody really saw it. That changed over time as the port functions moved and the road network gradually expanded northwards with new connections, effectively huge bridges, linking up at the West Hastings grade with the creation of Canada Place. Now the Waterfront Centre is across the street (and an extended Cordova Street), and beyond that is the Convention Centre. In 1992 the remodeling of the building saw a new façade facing north and internal layout, with a cantilevered element on the upper floor.

Founded in 1889, it was a number of clubs established by local businessmen; the city’s elite were members of the Vancouver Club. They had C O Wickenden (a club member) design their first premises in 1893, and once this new building was completed the Quadra Club occupied their old building (which was next door, to the east, and finally demolished in 1930).

Image source: City of Vancouver archives CVA 780-34

Posted May 29, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Temple Building – 515 West Pender Street

Because the building permit records for the early 1900s are missing, we can’s be certain that our attributions here are correct; we’ve already revisited this post as a result of further research.

The Temple Building in the centre was probably built in 1906. When completed it was numbered as 505-519 West Pender. In 1906 the main floor tenants included BC Assay and Chemical Supply Co at 513, while W S Holland of Holland and Davidson Real Estate was at 517. In 519 W Pender, Guilding & Folley, auctioneers occupied the space in 1906, but in 1908 it was Morrison and Morrison, builders supplies, E G Blackwell, manufacturer’s agent, and Hood Brothers, real estate. That’s a clue to who might have developed the building. William Hood built other property on Pender, he could have developed this as well. (There were in fact a second Acland Hood Hall, also on West Pender). There’s a 1906 entry in the Contract Record magazine saying that a business block was to be erected on Pender Street for W A Hood, designed by Dalton & Eveleigh.

The Hood brothers arrived around 1906 from Cupar, in Fife, Scotland, and successfully ran a real estate business for over 50 years. (Robert Hood developed a sideline as a writer – his first novel was published in 1918, and he published seven books; fiction, non-fiction and poetry over a thirty year writing career). They were more ambitious than some of their rivals, advertising in an Oregon newspaper in 1920 for example “FIVE-STORY and basement modem brick hotel, on Granville street, Vancouver. B. C, 75-ft. frontage, most of furniture goes with building, tenant’s lease expiring, for sale at a sacrifice. HOOD BROS., 626 Pender street west, Vancouver.”

Upstairs, at 515 was the Monte Carlo Rooming House. This arrangement remained for several years, although the real estate offices by 1909 were occupied by “the International Brokerage Co. A Sinclair, timber broker, the B C Ink Co and A Erskine Smith, mines” (he was a mining broker, living up the street in the St Francis Hotel). When this 1946 Vancouver Public Library image was taken, Vick’s Radio Service was in one main floor retail unit, Harvey & Riach’s furniture store occupied the other space, and upstairs were the Temple Rooms.

To the west is a 2-storey building that almost certainly was developed in 1905 and designed by Grant and Henderson for trader and broker Richard Winch. Mr. Winch was amazingly successful, amassing a fortune from starting in grocery and game retailing,  canning salmon, and then also became a broker, supplier, and insurance and shipping agent. He invested his profits from these businesses into real estate, building one of the city’s most prestigious office buildings, and trading in real estate across the city. He owned a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost in 1910, and had three servants at home in 1911.

We identified the development by an early image in the BC Archives that shows the cornice in 1912, identifying the building as “R V Winch Building” although it was shown by then on the insurance map as the Ackroyd Building. We assume the name change is because Mr. Winch had already built the much larger and fancier Winch Building on West Hastings.

Today the Conference Plaza development is here, completed in 1996 and designed by Aitken Wreglesworth Associates. The Pender Street facades recreate a low podium similar in scale to what was there before, with a 30 storey 252 unit condo tower on the corner with Seymour.