Archive for the ‘Downtown’ Category

West Pender Street – 500 block, north side

These four buildings were all replaced by a building called Conference Plaza, completed in 1996. They had stood for over 90 years, and are seen here in 1968. The first building, on the corner of Seymour, on the 1912 insurance map was the Mahon, McFarland & Proctor Building. The investor partners built several projects in the city, and we looked in detail at their background in an earlier post. When it was first completed in 1908 it was known as the Imperial Block, designed by Parr and Fee, and it was developed by ‘Martin, Nichols & Gavin’, and built at a cost of $54,000 by Mills & Williams.

There’s no reference to any business or partnership named Martin, Nichols & Gavin, so our best guess is that it was a consortium including Robert Martin (of Martin and Robertson), and perhaps Duncan Gavin who ran a candy business, and whose son worked for Martin and Robertson. The ‘Nichols’ was most likely to have been John P Nicolls; of Macaulay and Nicolls; his real estate business carried out repairs to the building, designed by T E Parr, in 1921.

Next door was the Ackroyd Building, and then the Temple Building. We looked at the history behind those buildings in an earlier post. The Ackroyd Building started out being called the R V Winch Building, until Mr. Winch built a much larger and more magnificent building to the west of here. It was completed in 1905 and designed by Grant and Henderson. The Temple Building was developed by the Temple Realty Company, and also designed by Grant & Henderson. The Temple family were in Santa Rosa, California, but they relied on a relative, W Bennett Hood to manage their Vancouver investment, after 1906 joined by his brother Robert, partners in Hood Brothers real estate, based in the building.

The last building on the block was also built in 1905, although the foundations had been started in 1895. Dr Israel Wood Powell ‘of Victoria’ was originally the developer, in partnership with R G Spinks and R G McKay, with a building designed by Fripp and Wills in 1892. The foundations were started a couple of years later, but the 1903 insurance map showed that that was all that had been constructed eight years after that. In 1905 a new permit was taken out by Powell and Hood – They were William Bennett Hood (who developed the Temple building)and Bertram W Powell, the son of Israel Wood Powell. Also designed by Grant & Henderson, the $15,000 building had iron columns and beams. In 1922 it was known as the Roaf Block; owned by J. H. Roaf, who hired Dalton & Eveleigh to design $9,000 of work to repair the building after a fire. Major Roaf was the managing director of the Clayburn Co, manufacturers of bricks and sewer pipes from a clay deposit at Sumas Mountain. A keen motorist, in 1912 he was owner of vehicle licence 1587. In 1923 another $20,000 of alterations (designed by William Dodd & Sons) were carried out when the World Publishing Co moved in (rather a drop in status from the World Tower down the street).

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 2010-006.008; Ernie Reksten

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Posted September 24, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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Posted July 19, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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