Archive for the ‘Downtown’ Category

Burrard Motor Hotel

The city has seen the loss in recent years of many older and less expensive hotels. Some have been redeveloped, and some have become used as non-market housing. The Burrard is an exception; a few years ago it was renovated, rebranded, and became a stylish boutique hotel retaining it’s mid-century modern style. It’s no longer inexpensive – you can stay in the Hotel Vancouver for less. It was built in 1956, and designed by Asbjorn Gathe, the recently added partner in Gardiner, Thornton, Gathe and Associates.

One prominent feature of the design is the way the flank wall was designed to incorporate a neon identification sign. That was true in this 1958 postcard when it was the Burrard Motel and in our before shot from 2007, when it was called the Burrard Inn (although the star element of the design was lost at that time), as well as today as the Burrard Hotel. (Note that Burrard Street still had houses along it, even in the late 1950s).

In the decade since the ‘before’ shot was taken a new neighbor has appeared; a 16 storey non-market housing building designed by DYS, copmpleted in 2014 and run by the Kettle Friendship Society with over 140 units targeted at youth who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The goal is to provide tenants with a stable and safe home environment in which they can thrive.

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Florence Court – West Georgia and Bute

 

Today it’s called the Banff, one of the very few remaining hundred year old apartment buildings in Coal Harbour. Built in 1909 at a cost of $58,000 by Dissette & Dean it was designed by H B Watson for J D Byrne. At the end of the year an extra $17,000 addition was permitted – it’s not clear what that would have consisted of – it could have been an additional floor as construction could have continued uninterrupted. In 1920 J W Byrne carried out $500 of repairs to the building.

In 1909 James D Byrne was living in a suite on Granville Street, working as a real estate broker with an office in the Dominion Trust Building. In 1911 he was shown as Irish, aged 53, living with his English wife Florence, (hence the name of the building) and a nurse, Helena Davis, who was Welsh. James had arrived in Canada in 1889, and shows up a lot in 1890s newspapers as he was an Assessor and Collector in the Court House, where he was often the Official Administrator of a deceased resident, a post he resigned in 1899.

He came from a distinguished family; born in County Wicklow. His father represented Count Wexford in the ‘Imperial Parliament’. He attended school in England, and on arrival in Vancouver was partner with C D Rand in his real estate business for five years. He was also  described as being ‘connected with’ the real estate department of Mahon, McFarland & Proctor for many years. His wife was the daughter of the owner of a Yorkshire woolen mill, and the couple moved to Mr. Byrne’s investment when it was completed. He was an active member of the Catholic church, and a Knight of St Columbus. He was the first President of the city’s Children’s Aid Society, a Catholic foundation, although it appears that the couple had no children.

In 1915 he was elected as an alderman – although the City’s website inaccurately records him as James D Byne. One odd item of knowledge we have about Mr. Byrne is that he seems to have enjoyed reading mystery stories – a copy of an 1888 book by John Charles Dent, ‘The Gerrard Street Mystery and Other Weird Tales’, is currently for sale for $500, bearing his signature.

The nurse in the household in 1911 suggested that perhaps Florence was ill; however, when she died in 1919 the newspaper suggested she had moved to Los Angeles for the health of her husband, only two months earlier. Florence was returned to Vancouver for her funeral, and in the 1921 census (when he was apparently recorded as James D Burne) James was listed as a widower. He was shown as having been born in Scotland, which is quite at odds with his biographic notes published a few years earlier. His last appearance in the street directory was in 1929, still listed at apartment 3 of his building. He may have maintained a Los Angeles residence; a James D Byrne died on 27 December 1929 in Los Angeles.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA M-11-58

Posted June 7, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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West Georgia Street west from The Bay

Here’s a bonus Hotel Vancouver shot – one built from 1912 to 1916, on the left, which cost the best part of three million dollars to build, designed by Painter and Swales, and the one still standing today, started in 1928 and designed by Montreal-based architects Archibald and Schofield, but not completed until 1939.

The newly installed canopy on the Hudson’s Bay building entrance isn’t an exact replica of the original, but it’s a vast improvement on the heavy steel canopies that were added later than this 1931 image shows. The third Hotel Vancouver was at this point just a shell – it was sealed up to ensure water didn’t get in, but no interior work was carried out as the depression in the economy dragged on during the 1930s. It was only the prospect of a Royal Visit by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to the city that finally prompted the completion of the new hotel. It was opened during the royal visit in 1939 having cost $12 million.

Once the third hotel was opened, the second was decommissioned, but was used to house returning war veterans during the late 1940s. It was torn down in 1949; a sad fate for an impressive structure. The site sat vacant as a parking lot for many years, until construction of the Pacific Centre Mall started in the early 1970s. This part of the site is home to the TD Tower, designed by Ceasar Pelli & Associates in bronze tinted glass, reflecting Cathedral Place and the Royal Centre across the street

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 260-226

Posted May 24, 2018 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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Imperial Opera House – West Pender Street

This was one of three Opera Houses in early Vancouver – if you include Hart’s house, which only had canvas walls. The CP Railway built the fanciest a long way from the city’s residents in the heart of their Granville Street territory, next to their hotel, opening in 1891. The Imperial pre-dated it by at least two years and was much located closer to the original city, which started life along Water Street as the Granville township, and spread out from there. The Imperial only lasted in business for about five years; Major Matthews, the city’s Archivist recorded that “in 1898 the Imperial Opera House was still in use, but as a Drill Hall.” This image shows the building already in use as the Drill Hall – although the major recorded the use as ‘Drill Shed’. The Imperial had closed in 1894, leaving the CPR building for a while as the sole attraction.

The Imperial opened in May 1889, only three years after the city was newly named and rebuilt after the fire destroyed almost every building. It was initially owned by Crickmay and Robson, who had arrived in 1888, and were both engineers, in partnership in business. They undoubtedly designed it themselves; William Crickmay sometimes described himself as an architect as well as engineer. John Robson returned to England in 1890, but William Crickmay, at the age of about 60, continued to run his engineering business while trying to run the Opera House. While operatic offerings were few and far between, the theatre was initially the only substantial structure to offer plays, visiting performers, the Athletic Club, a skating rink and local events including the Caledonian Society’s ‘Concert, Ball and Celebration’. In August 1889 C Norris appeared with his ’30 educated dogs’. In 1890 The Lacrosse Minstrels performed, John Robson, (not the same John Robson who had built it – this one was Premier of British Columbia) gave a speech, and Miss Agnes Knox, renowned Canadian elocutionist a dramatic recital. A year later the CP’s larger and superior Opera House opened, and bookings at the Imperial slumped. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was performed by the New Orleans Company, and Miss Olof Krarer “The Little Esquimaux Lady” gave a performance with stories of “Life in the Frozen North”.

Miss Krarer, a dwarf, described herself as coming from the remnant of a small tribe of blue-eyed blond people called the Angmagsalik from the east coast of Greenland. Clothed in her “native costume” of a polar bear skin parka, she spoke about her people and their customs and sang native songs. Her face was “peculiar, and almost impossible to portray” and her arms bowed, which she claimed was due to her people’s custom of keeping their arms folded at all times to ward off cold. All people of her race, she stated, were of similar height and build. The Esquimaux, she explained, lived without laws or government, the only distinction being that between rich and poor: the rich were those who had flint to strike fires, and the poor were those who did not. Nearly all the information she gave in the 2,500 lectures she gave in North America was made up, uninformed, and just plain wrong, but no one at the time disputed her facts.

Mr. Crickmay hoped his salvation might come with the creation of the Imperial Stock Company, formed in conjunction with John E Rice of the Belmour-Gray Company, the first attempt at establishing a BC touring circuit. John F Cordray of Seattle was involved, and soon after the refurbished Philharmonic Hall in Victoria joined in . Plays were performed across a number of different venues, carrying the scenery and props with them. Audiences were unpredicatable, and often performances were better attended in small towns than in the bigger cities. A smallpox outbreak in 1892 in Victoria put the circuit out of business. That year ‘Handsome’ Jim Corbett (later ‘Gentleman’ Jim) fought an exhibition bout in the Opera House, but business was thin. It was closed in 1894 and a year later the Imperial was leased by the Provincial Government as a Drill Hall. William Crickmay died on December 24 1900. His sons, Alfred and Fred continued in business in the city as Crickmay Bros; warehousemen and customs brokers.

The building was replaced in 1911 by the Duncan Building, developed by Howard J Duncan and designed by H L Stevens and renamed in 1925 as the Shelly Building when it was acquired by Cora Shelly.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Mil P5

 

Posted May 21, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Georgia and Richards – ne corner

We posted earlier on the first building to be constructed here; St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. It was demolished in 1937, and yet another gas station and car dealership replaced it a few years later. In 1940 the St Andrew’s Wesley Community Centre was demolished on Richards Street (the original Sunday School building) and this location became home to the Georgia Imperial Service Station run by G T Peverley. In 1942 it was renamed as the Georgia and Richards Service station run by J O Betts.

In 1947 a Ford dealership was added, Black Motors, run by George Black. We’re not sure if the service station always had a sales building on Richards, or was remodeled to add the showroom at the back of the site in a matching style. According to their directory entry the dealership sold “Mercury, Lincoln, Meteor and English Ford Passenger Cars; Mercury Trucks”, and were “Wholesale Parts Distributors for All Ford Products.” It was a big operation; there are over 20 employees listed in the 1948 street directory.

In 1948, when our Vancouver Public Library image was taken, Black Motors also had another location; a paint shop on Seymour Street, and in 1949 they added another on the corner of Dunsmuir & Homer. The Ford dealership was competing with Stonehouse Motors across the street who sold GM products. (In 1949 Black Motors provided the Mercury car that ended up on stage at the Strand Theatre as part of a promotion).

By 1953 the Dunsmuir and Homer location (which was on the same block as this location) was the main business address for Black’s Motors. There was a used car lot on Kingsway and another on Main Street for new and used trucks, and this was listed as the service station. 686 Richards, the former parts department was now listed as Black’s Restaurant, with Mrs A M Oliphant as managing director. That situation remained true in 1955, the last year we can see street directories online. Vancouver As It Was has more on the conversion to a restaurant.

In 1974 the current 10 storey BC Turf Building office was completed. Designed by Zoltan Kiss for the Diamond family and built by Dominion Construction, it has recently been remodeled on the main floor to house the Post Office and the Bank of Montreal, both relocating from nearby. Since 2001 Saskatchewan artist Joe Farfad’s sculpture of “Royal Sweet Diamond”, a bull, stood here. The site was bought from Gulf Oil, who last operated the gas station as a British American station, in 1968. Originally the plan was for a 26 storey hotel, but an oversupply of hotel rooms and tight money supply changed the plans. Originally TD Bank were tenants on the ground floor.

George Black Motors Ltd relocated to North Burnaby, and continued operating there in the 1960s and 1970s.

Posted May 14, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Homer Street north from West Georgia Street

This modest almost suburban street doesn’t look like the heart of a busy metropolis, but in 1948, it was. The clue that you’re in a city is in the background, where the Hotel Alcazar can be seen on Dunsmuir Street. At the far end of the block on the corner of Dunsmuir was a single storey retail building. The tallest building on this block is a three storey building about two thirds of the way down. 632 Homer Street was built in 1912 as three-storey brick & concrete printing shop by Gustav Roedde, who claimed to have designed and built it himself. He also moved the 1904 house built by F H Donovan on the adjacent lot to the north, presumably to allow construction of his building. There had been a house built on the lot in 1901, designed by Bedford Davidson for Mr. Goldstern. Mr. Roedde was a bookbinder who was born in Germany, worked his way from Cleveland to San Francisco to Victoria, and eventually settled in Vancouver in 1888. He started work at the News Advertiser, was briefly based on West Cordova, and then in 1892 moved to premises on Cambie Street. His building here was renumbered to 616 Homer in 1948, but was still the home of G A Roedde Ltd, printers.

To the south, also in 1901, R M Fripp designed a house for Robert Mee. In 1948 it had been redeveloped (or altered) as a single storey building on the street, home to the BC Journal of Commerce. The two storey building at 622 was the home of Smith Marking Devices, as well as printers Cornell & Burroughs, and as the bus poking from the archway shows, it was also the Greyhound Bus Company depot.

Closer to us is a house that had been built in 1902 by the Church of England as a mission, designed by W T Dalton. The house to the south of the mission, extending forward to the sidewalk by 1948, was built by Fred Melton in 1910. By 1920 it was home to another printing firm, Trythall & Son, run by Wm J, Wm T and E Howard Trythall. The family were living on Nelson Street in 1921, and William and his wife Minnie were both shown aged 50. William had arrived in Canada in 1888, and Minnie in 1909. They had a six-year-old daughter, Marjorie at home, and a governess and lodger. William Trythall, William’s father lived next door, as well as their son Ernest, (known by his middle name, Howard) who was also a printer. They appear to be living with William and Ernest’s sister and her husband, George Peake. Fred Peake worked for Trythall and Son as well, living in the West End. In 1948 It was still a printer’s: J A Kershaw.

The buildings to the north, closer to the camera, predated the turn of the century as owner J H MacNab carried out repairs costing $300 in 1901. Next door to them, to the north, was another house that was built before 1901 (666 Homer) that had repairs carried out in 1915 for the Chinese Trust Co. In 1948 both houses were listed as vacant. The site was probably in process of being acquired for redevelopment. The new General Post Office, which takes up the entire block was completed in 1956. Designed by McCarter and Nairne, it is now a heritage building that will be repurposed as a retail and office project, with new towers above the restored 1950s structure.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str P256

Posted May 10, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Hornby Street – 600 block, west side

In 1981 this block of Hornby had a parkade and an office building – today there’s an office building and a public space with an art gallery. The parkade in part served the Devonshire Hotel that was up on West Georgia Street and would be off to the left hand side of the picture. The office block was the Georgia Medical Dental Building – we’ve seen the back of it in an earlier post. It was designed by McCarter & Nairne, and imploded in 1989. Across Georgia is the third – and current – Hotel Vancouver. On the right hand edge of the picture is the entrance to Gary Taylor’s Show Lounge, Piano bar and restaurant.

The food wasn’t why anybody went to the club. Local music historians record that Gary had started out as a drummer; he was in the CBC house band, The Classics, in the 1960s filmed ‘Let’s Go’, the Vancouver segment of Music Hop, the CBC’s version of American Bandstand.  In the late 1970s and early 80s he was running his club on Hornby Street. The main floor hosted touring international acts in the Rock Room upstairs (including Johnny Thunders, who apparently had to be talked into the country by Gary after showing up at the border in 1981 to play the Rock Room with only his New York library card for identification). Up and coming locals like DoA, The Dishrags and the Pointed Sticks also got to play the room, while downstairs there were strippers.

The club had started on Granville Street, and Gary had run into problems in 1973 when he was charged with presenting an ‘obscene performance’ at his show lounge. In a rather unusual form of defence the five performers who were charged re-enacted the performance at the Show lounge with police, the crown prosecutor and Judge McGivern in attendance – they must have been good as Gary won the case.

The parkade and office building were replaced by Cathedral Place. Opened in 1991, Cathedral Place was developed By the Shon Group, headed by Ronald Shon, through a joint venture with Sir Run Run Shaw of Hong Kong under the company name of Shon Georgia Investments Ltd. The Shaw Group were Hong Kong’s biggest media company; founder and noted philanthropist Sir Run Run Shaw died in 2014 aged 106.

Paul Merrick designed Cathedral Place in a post-modern art deco style, borrowing the roof design from the chateau design of the Hotel Vancouver opposite. The building incorporates casts of the original nurses from the earlier 1930s building, although medical uses are no longer associated with the contemporary building. The office is still owned by Shon Group Realty.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W05.05

Posted May 7, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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