Archive for the ‘Downtown’ Category

729 Hamilton Street

Fire Hall No. 1 was probably newly built when this 1950s image was shot. We wouldn’t know who had designed the third location of the city’s Fire Hall No. 1 if the picture wasn’t listed as part of the Townley and Matheson fonds, in the Archives collection. The building replaced the Cordova Street fire hall, which in turn had replaced the first building on Water Street. It was only here for about 20 years; in 1975 the new Heatley Street Fire Hall No. 1 was opened, and Fire Hall No. 8 was opened further down Hamilton Street in 1974 to retain a Downtown fire fighting base – the land for that building having been acquired in 1971 for $60,000!

Here’s another view of the building, designed in the international style, and seen here in 1962. The equipment is on display because the Fire Department had taken delivery of a new set of fire trucks. The urgency to move the relatively new facility was to facilitate ‘The Federal Block’ – an anticipated major government investment proposed in the early 1970s. The entire block, by 1981, was a vacant parking lot, but the project never materialized, and finally, in 1995, Moshe Safdie’s design for the new Vancouver Public Library Central Branch was completed. The Federal Government contributed to the library project by agreeing to lease the corner office tower, and some upper floors, for 20 years. The tower is still Federal offices, but the upper floors of the main building have now been converted to library use, with public access possible very soon to the rooftop garden.

Image sources: City of Vancouver CVA 1399-461 and CVA 354-260

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Posted September 17, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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573 Homer Street

In the past few years the vacant site in our 2004 image has been developed, and the building in the picture has been demolished and is now a vacant site. The second floor housed the Marine Club, a tiny and, according to Scout Magazine ‘slightly sordid’ club. It opened as a private membership club for marine crew, an opportunity to buy liquor in a bar in an era where there weren’t many opportunities.

When it went bust in 2007 it had lasted just over 50 years, with a décor that reflected its roots, and a clientele (when they showed up) that morphed from grizzled seamen to punk rockers in the 1970s, and the original hipsters before then. In later years it was a regular gig for Ray Condo, a rockabilly and roots performer, but with a seat limit of 100 it would never make big returns for Ray, who died in 2004. Towards the end of the club’s run, a variety of styles of music were available. In 2003 Peyote Calamity and Goatsblood (playing Sludge/Grind/Noise/Doom) were on the bill, while a year later My Project Blue offered ‘aloof synth/guitar rock’. Even though the bar offered free pool a few nights of the week, giving pool sharks a reason to want to drop by for a beer, the business didn’t survive.

The building was originally developed in 1946, and before there had been houses on this stretch of Homer Street – some can be seen in an earlier post. The first occupant of the new building appears to have been Precision Instrument, who were listed as manufacturers. A business with the stame name still operate today in Coquitlam. They were later joined by Zaitzeff & Co, Importers and exporters, and Co-op Fire and Casualty Insurance.

BC Hydro have a right of way for high voltage cables passing the site, which limits the redevelopment potential. Next door, Omicron Architecture designed a new addition to the Labour Temple on the corner of Homer and Dunsmuir, with White Spot occupying the ground floor. The new structure gives added seismic support to the heritage building – the cross bracing is visible through the windows.

Posted September 10, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1065 West Pender Street

When it was built, in 1909, this was the first structure completed on the lot. It was on Pender Street – East Pender had another name, so there was no need to reference ‘West’. In front (to the north) on top of the cliff above the beach were a row of fancy houses, initially occupied by the city’s CPR managers and other professionals like lawyers and doctors. Many of their original owners had already moved on to new locations, either in the West End or the new First Shaughnessy area across False Creek. This block had several other buildings completed around the same time, including another Honeyman & Curtis design.

The developer was the Canadian General Electric Company, and they hired Honeyman and Curtis to build an initial $30,000 warehouse, built by Murray and McMillan in 1909, followed by another $30,000 addition to the east in 1913, built by Purdy & Lonegan. The Company were the Canadian subsidiary of the US General Electric Company, created in 1892 and manufacturers of generators, transformers, motors, wire and cable, and lighting products for consumer and industrial products.

The company’s 1912 Annual R port explains the extent of the company operation and how the local offices operated: “In addition to the head office at Toronto, with its Sales and Engineering Departments, the Company has a number of branch offices throughout Canada – at Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Cobalt, Porcupine. Winnipeg, Nelson, Victoria. Prince Rupert, Vancouver, Saskatoon, Calgary, Regina and Edmonton, each with its own complete organization, thus enabling the Company’s officers to study the local conditions and requirements, which differ considerably in the various provinces of the Dominion.” GE had been selling products to Vancouver for many years – their equipment was used by the Consolidated Railway Co as they expanded the streetcar network throughout the city.

The company were still operating their wholesale division in this building in 1934, when this Vancouver Public Library image was taken, and through to at least the mid 1950s. It was replaced in 1978 by the Oceanic Plaza, designed by Charles Payne (who also designed the earlier Guinness Tower nearby). The developers were British Pacific Building Ltd, the Guinness family company that owned much of West Vancouver where they developed the British Properties, and the purchasers of the adjacent Marine Building.

Posted September 6, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Burrard Street from Pender – looking south (2)

We saw a similar angle from an earlier photograph of this block of Burrard from 1939. (We saw the building on the corner looking the other way east along Pender, in another recent post). Apart from the Hotel Vancouver in the background, and the cathedral, buried in the trees in both pictures, very few if any of the 1939 buildings had survived when this 1981 image was taken. Things have changed again; none of the 1981 buildings are still standing today, either.

On the left hand corner on Pender was the National Trust building, built around 1958, and designed by McCarter, Nairne & Partners, which replaced the Glenwood Rooms, built sometime around 1907. The remainder of the block consisted of modest mid rise office buildings also erected in the 1950s when the city’s economy started to pick up after a long slow period during the 1930s and through the war years. At 540 Burrard, McCarter and Nairne (who seem to have had a near monopoly on designing the city’s 1950s office buildings), designed the 1957 Mercantile Bank of Canada, which we think must be the smaller office building just behind the bus. Next to the cathedral the Georgia Medical Dental building came closer to the cathedral than its replacement, Cathedral Place. This image must be taken quite early in 1981 as the buildings on Burrard were still standing; another image taken the same year shows the site cleared to construct Park Place

On the corner today is a 1985 office, 510 Burrard, occupied by Manulife, completed in 1985, designed by Webb Zerafa Menkes Housden Partnership. The whole of the remainder of the block is Bentall 5, designed by Musson Cattell Massey and built in two vertical phases in 2004 and 2007, with the Cactus Club Café pavilion occupying the area reserved as a staging area for the addition of the final 11 storeys. Next door is the 1984 Park Place tower at 666 Burrard, also designed by MCM for the Daon Corporation. Additional density was permitted to protect the heritage of the Christ Church Cathedral by transferring the theoretical remaining permitted density under zoning onto the cathedral site to the office tower – the first example of ‘transfer of density’ in Vancouver.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W04.19

Posted August 30, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Pender and Howe Street – nw corner (2)

We looked at this short-lived retail store in an earlier post when it was occupied by Dunlop tire dealer Norman Tullis, about a year before this picture was taken, late in 1918. A year later in this Stuart Thomson image, the Auto Supply Co had replaced the tire store. They sold Dirigo oils and greases, as well as Premium gasoline. We wondered how this was achieved, then we realized that the single gas pump was actually embedded in the sidewalk, as this detail from the image shows. The Rapid Delivery truck is refueling outside the store, and the board on the sidewalk politely requests that other motorists refrain from parking in that spot. H B Nielsen was managing the business, in a modest building that we think was probably developed by D A MacDonald – there’s a 1914 permit for over $3,000 of repairs where Mr MacDonald was owner, architect and builder. The Dirigo Sulphur and Oil Co appears to have been based in Maine, so the oil travelled a long way to Vancouver.

Next door at 429 Howe the Double Tread Tire Co run by William J Bartle was in operation. The next year F C Roberts was running the business, but by 1921, while the Auto Supply Co were still in business, the tire store had become the Mac & Mac Tire Repair Co. Rupert Parkinson was the vulcanizer, and Margaret Barten the clerk, but there’s no mention in the street directory of who either of the Macs were. In 1922 Herman B Neilson was still managing the Auto Supply Co, and next door Auto Electric Co run by E Marshall and V Holman had replaced the tire business.

In our previous post from five years ago, the Stock Exchange block that’s now on the site, designed by Townley and Matheson and completed in 1929, was awaiting the construction of the Exchange Tower – a contemporary office building incorporated into the heritage building. Today it’s completed, and the corner retail unit is now a Swiss chocolate store. (The project was designed by a Swiss architect for a Swiss developer). The remainder of the heritage part of the building is soon to open as the Exchange Hotel.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-624

Posted July 23, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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519 Hamilton Street

Here’s the Hamilton Hotel seen in our 1978 image. If you believe the internet, it appears to still have a phone number and a Facebook page, despite being demolished for the construction of BC Hydro’s support building which was completed in 1992. The new building was leased to the Customs Office when we shot the ‘after’ image a while ago, although they have now moved. The older building was actually vacant even earlier – the Vancouver Archives have a picture from 1974 captioned “Image shows the now vacant premises of the Hamilton Hotel (515-517 Hamilton Street, City of Vancouver Social Services Department single men’s housing)”.

The building dated back to 1907 when the upper floor was first operated as Roccabella furnished rooms, operated by Esther Carmichael, the widow of John. Downstairs was the wholesale confectionery business of the Gavin Brothers, (F J Gavin, G D Gavin and L H Leigh) who seemed to have been the developers as it was known as the Gavin Building, and was identified as ‘new’ in 1908. Grant and Henderson were the designers. In 1911 the rooms became the Edina Rooms, with half a dozen tenants but no identified proprietor or manager. The Gavin business wasn’t just a wholesaling operation; there were several employees, at least one of whom was identified as a candymaker.

The family had moved from Scotland around 1888; Duncan Gavin was accompanied by three sons, Francis and George, who ran the candy company in Vancouver, and Alexander who was a bookkeeper at the Hastings Mill. In the 1891 Canada census the family were in Broadview, a town east of Regina, then part of the Northwest Territories and today in Saskatchewan. When they first arrived in Vancouver in 1894 Duncan Gavin was already retired, and he died in 1901. Francis Gavin married in 1904, worked until 1935 and died in 1955. George married in 1903 and later lived in Burnaby and became a bookkeeper with Martin & Robertson Ltd. He died in 1928 when he was hit by a BC Electric streetcar at Hastings Street at Lillooet Street, and is buried in New Westminster.

By 1919 the name of the rooms had changed again, this time to the Rubell Rooms. Gavin’s were now F Gavin and H Leigh, and had moved to East Pender, and Gibbs & Jackson, who were contractors, Hygiene Products Ltd and the Vancouver Jewel Case Co operated on the main floor of this building. By 1930 these were known as the Garland Rooms, with an engraver and a dye works among the main floor tenants. Hygiene Products Ltd were still here, occupying the rear of the premises and wholesaling toothbrushes and toothpaste in the space where the candymaking had once taken place. From before 1940 these were the Beechmont Rooms, with the Dye Works still operating alongside McLean magazine and Macfadden Publications and the Vancouver News Agency.

Posted July 19, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1290 Granville Street

Who would have thought that this corner 7-11 store was once a car showroom? Like much of this end of Granville Street, an early business located here sold International Harvester and Paige vehicles. This 1921 image shows both parts of the business, and upstairs the West End Hall (confusingly, not in what we now think of as the West End). Although best known for their farm equipment, IH produced light trucks from the early 1900s, introducing the Motor Truck in 1910. Paige Autombiles were produced in Detroit from 1908. When this image was taken the company produced cars with engines made by Duisenberg, but in 1922 they introduced the Daytona, a 3-seat sports roadster with a 6-cylinder engine. The vehicle looked like a traditional coupe, but had an extraordinary third seat that could be pulled out like a drawer from the side of the car over the near side running board.

The company was sold in 1927, merging to become Graham-Paige, but by then Paige cars were being sold a block away at 1365 Granville, and Ball-Cambell Co had moved in, selling Star and Flint automobiles. The Star was an assembled car intended to rival the Model ‘T” Ford. Parts were supplied by various manufacturers, and built by the Durant Motors Company in Lansing, Michigan. Flint Motors came from the city of the same name, and was also a Durant company. The body of their car was made by Budd, in Philadelphia, and the engine by Continental. They ceased production in 1927, and Ball-Campbell went with them. Great West Motors moved in here, selling Oldsmobiles.

The building didn’t start life as a car showroom, as it pre-dates the arrival of cars in Vancouver. It was here before the turn of the 20th century – in 1899 it was numbered as 1270 Granville, the only building on the block other than the Golden Gate Hotel (still standing at the other end of the block, which dates from 1889). It was home to Webster Bros, who were grocers, with three Websters listed among a total of seven residents. They certainly didn’t use vehicles in their business – or at least, not motorized vehicles. The Archives has an image from around 1905 of one of their horse-drawn wagons. There’s another image of the building which is inaccurately dated to around 1890. It’s later because Webster Bros didn’t move in until 1897; the year before that they were located on the parallel block of Seymour Street.

From 1892 until the Webster family moved in, the premises here were occupied by Mrs O Olmstead, grocer, and Mr O Olmstead, a carpenter. They had taken over from the short-lived Vancouver Co-operative Grocery and Supply Co, managed by S F McKenzie, who were here in 1891. A year earlier there were two businesses, and several residential tenants (suggesting the entire building was constructed as seen today). The businesses were the Granville Street Dining Hall; Harry King Sargeant, prop; Miss Mary Bouer, waitress, and Miss Annie Larsson, cook. Colin McLeod, a blacksmith also seems to have worked here, (presumably at the back) and there was also a grocer; E Fader and Co. There were so few people in the city that the directory listed everyone working or living here; John Elijah Fader, of Fader Bros., Maynard P Fader, clerk, William Dauphinee, the bookkeeper, Silas Fader, and Henry Marsden, another clerk.

The Fader business had moved from Cordova Street, where they operated in early 1889, and the family members had all been living on Homer Street that year, and they all lived at this address in 1890 – although it didn’t really have an address – or at least not a number, just ‘Granville, nr Drake’. As far as we can tell 1889 is when the building was constructed. The family were unusual as they were recorded as ‘grocers and mill owners’ – they also owned a sawmill a block away from here on False Creek, run by Albert Fader. Albert had the Homer Street house that the family previously occupied designed for him by William Blackmore in 1888. This building might be designed by the Fripp Brothers; an 1890 Daily World report identifies a commercial block having been built for E Fader and Co at Drake Street at Howe Street, but there was only a very small building at that intersection, and it seems likely the newspaper inaccurately identified the location.

The family didn’t all stick with grocery, or milling. In 1891 Albert Fader was retired, and E J Fader was a steamboat operator, living at the Colonial Hotel (The Yale Hotel today – also dating from 1889). The Fader family had German roots, but had all been born in Halifax, in Nova Scotia. There’s an image in the Nova Scotia Archives of their store at the market in Bedford Row in 1885, and the business had been established in 1864 at 64 Barrington Street. Silas Fader stayed in the grocery business, and we saw his later store, still on Granville Street but much further north, built in 1898.

The Webster grocery store was here from 1897 until 1912 – a year later they were located on the opposite side of the street. The store was empty for a year, then in 1914 J L Dobbin was listed as owner when some repairs were completed; John Dobbin was a representative for the Granville Auto Exchange, based at 1270 Granville (still this building) and owned by AM Rentfrow and W W Ross. In 1919 Douglas Hayes (who was the tenant of the building) carried out $1,000 of repairs that it was noted ‘had been OK’d by the fire chief’, after a major fire in 1917. In 1920 more alterations were carried out for owner E Evans, built by Thomas Hunter. There were about a dozen ‘E Evans’ who might have owned the property, but almost all had fairly poorly paid jobs, as clerks, carpenters, a ‘helper’, a traveler – but the one professional was architect Enoch Evans, who might well be the owner at the time (assuming it wasn’t an out-of-town owner). By 1930 the economy was in trouble; car companies were being wound up, and these premises were vacant. When they were operating again in 1932, it was with John Redden, who was a wholesaler of radios and refrigerators, and R A Lister’s engine business, managed in Vancouver by J R Day.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives Trans N19, Bu P711 and Bu P293.

Posted July 12, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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