Archive for the ‘East End’ Category

Howard Hotel – East Hastings Street

We looked at this Downtown Eastside hotel in an early post that featured it when it was named the Empire Hotel. In this 1935 image it was called the Howard, with no indication in the street directory of who was running it. There were several retail units, with Gaining Tailors at the eastern end, then a cleaners – BC Hat Cleaners, and next door Dick Sun, who was a merchant tailor making suits to order. In the window of the hotel entrance was a poster for the Beacon Theatre.

It was built in 1913 and designed by H A Hodgson for Seabold and Roberts. The building permit suggests it was built as apartments for $60,000, although it appeared in the 1913 street directory as the Hotel Seward, and by 1914 had already had the name changed to the Howard Hotel, run by W P Roberts. In 1918 the Daily World reported the result of arbitration on the rent for the hotel, and illustrated how property values crashed from their peak in the early 1910s. “Judgment in the arbitration to determine the rental value of the Howard Hotel was handed down by the arbitrators, Mr. Justice Clement, F. G. T. Lucas and J. S. Gall, the rent being placed at $75 per month. The lease, which started In 1912 at $500 per month, provided for a readjustment at tho end of a five-year period.”

There turns out to have been far more to this story. In the early 1900s this was a house, owned by Dr Eady Stevenson, who had retired from Victoria. In 1901 Dr. Stevenson was shown aged 63, living alone, born in Ontario. He had practiced in the US for many years, having been the second doctor to offer Homeopathic remedies in Los Angeles. He had also lived in Oakland, and had arrived in California travelling overland with a party searching for gold.

Before moving to Vancouver he lived in Victoria; in 1885 he published ‘Religion or Rum: or, The Influence of Religion on the Use of Alcoholic Liquors as a Beverage’. The book was based on one of his lectures; he travelled around speaking on a variety of topics, and practiced temperance, although ‘not intemperantly’.  He died in 1909, leaving a will that had some unusual requirements. Although some of his bequest went to his brother and nephew in Toronto, he appointed trustees, headed by the mayor, who were responsible for finding developers willing to build on his two East Hastings properties, with at least a four storey commercial structure. The rent would be reset every five years, and the money was to support “Vancouver women of good character, who were not connected with any church.” His relatives argued (unsuccessfully) that this showed that he was of unsound mind and guided by spiritualism. “The Judge held that the evidence brought forward in no way established these allegations, and said that Dr. Stevenson’s sanity had been unjustly attacked.”

The hotel was built where Dr. Stevenson’s house was located, and initially brought in rent of $600, which in turn was distributed at the rate of $20 to 20 women in Vancouver and four or five outside the city. This helped the city’s relief department for six years, until the rent collected was dramatically reduced following the arbitration referenced above. Eventually the trustees sold the property that had been developed, the Howard Hotel, but the remaining site held by the Trustees had never been developed and tax arrears mounted, with no income to cover those costs. In 1923 the land was auctioned to cover the outstanding tax bill.

The Howard is still standing today as a privately owned SRO Hotel.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Hot P75

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Posted December 6, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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33 East Hastings Street

We looked at the history of the Dodson Hotel (the five storey building) in an earlier post. It was built in 1909 for Joseph Dodson (from Barrow in Furness in Lancashire) and designed by Sharp & Thompson. Joseph arrived twenty years before it was built, starting out in Vancouver as a labourer, then becoming a butcher before he turned to baking, operating Dodson’s Bakery here with his sons, and retiring in 1910 at the age of 68.

Next door to the east was a more modest two-storey structure that was only very recently demolished. It was developed by C E Robertson, and built by the Vancouver Construction Co., Ltd at a cost of $12,000 in 1909. There were dozens of Robertsons in Vancouver in 1909, but only one C E Robertson; Charles E Robertson associated with G E French’s tugboat company in 1909, and lived on Beach Avenue near Stanley Park. He was still there in 1911, so we can find him in the census, identified as a lodger in George French’s Parr and Fee designed West End mansion, aged 46. Despite being younger than his landlord, who was aged 58 and listed as a master mariner, Charles was shown as retired, living off income (presumably in part from this investment property) and having been born in Ontario.

Charles Robertson and George French jointly owned some of the French towing business, but there was a greater connection. The Sea Lion was built at Charles Robertson’s shipyard on Burrard Inlet (at the foot of Cordova Street) in 1904, and she was launched in 1905. We wrote about the 120′ tugboat in greater detail when we looked at the home occupied by her captain.

Previously Charles had been employed at the electrical power house in the city, presumably as an engineer, although the census recorded him as a cabinet maker in 1901, already lodging with the French family at their home on Alexander Street. They all moved to the West End in 1908; the location of their previous home had become a little less attractive (although perhaps more valuable) after the ladies of Dupont Street moved en masse to Alexander Street in the early 1900s.

In 1921 Charles was still living with the French household, but he was no longer retired; he was working as a shipwright with B C Marine. Two decades later he was still at 2001 Beach Avenue, having retired again before 1931. George French had died in 1930, but his widow, Cynthia, still lived in the family home until her death in June 1941, aged 82, with Charles there too. Charles Robertson then moved to an apartment on West 10th Avenue, where he was living when he died in December 1943.

The building was replaced in the spring of 2018 by Olivia Skye, a 13-storey housing building designed by IBI Group for Atira. It has 198 units of rental housing, with a mix of market, subsidized and welfare rate apartments.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-3886

Posted November 26, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Hunter Block – West Hastings Street

We caught a glimpse of this building when it was on an early hand-coloured postcard. It was lost in 2004, (the same year that we shot the ‘before’ image) after a fire destroyed the structure. The building dated back to 1890s, developed by the Hunter Brothers who also built a smaller building on Granville Street in 1892. Samuel and Thomas Hunter (and not James, as some surprisingly inaccurate official records suggest) were contractors and developers. Samuel arrived first, in 1891. Thomas was here in the same year, and in 1892 he got married. As the Daily World reported: “Wooed and Married. In Homer street Methodist church on Thursday evening Thos. Hunter, of Hunter Bros., contractors, was married by Rev. Robert R. Maitland, assisted by Revs. E. Robson and J. F. Betts, to Miss Jennie Simpson, daughter of Theodore Simpson, Seymour street. The groom was supported by his brother Sam and Jonathan Rogers“.

The wedding record shows that the brothers were from ‘Wilfred’, (actually Wilfrid, near Brock) Ontario, and Jennie had been born in New Market, also in Ontario. When she died in 1937, she was recorded as Jane Maria Hunter, and census records also record her as Jane, although her marriage certificate and the newspaper report called her Jennie. The 1911 census found the family headed by Jane’s father, Theodore Simpson, (born in England) and Jane and Thomas with their 17 year old son who was named after his grandfather.

Samuel was a year older than his brother, and they had been part of a large family headed by William, from Nova Scotia and Elizabeth, who was Irish. At 15 Sam was already working as a labourer, and when he first arrived in Vancouver worked as a machinist. Only a year later the brothers were building a modest commercial building on Granville Street for a local landowner, John Twigge, and a year later partnered with Jonathan Rogers (who was at Thomas’s wedding) on a commercial building on Powell Street. By 1896 only Thomas is listed in the street directory, and it would seem that Samuel (who would have been aged about 30) may have died in 1895; there’s an 1896 newspaper report that says ‘the heirs of the late Samuel Hunter of this city, received $2,000’ in an insurance payout.

The building was therefore only associated with Thomas Hunter. There’s a permit approved in 1902, designed by Blackmore and Son, costing $15,000 to construct. Thomas was the builder, and he stayed in Vancouver, and continued to act as a contractor and builder for many other projects. Several were investments built for his own portfolio, including about a dozen frame houses and an apartment building on Nelson Street in 1909. He also built a Parr and Fee designed commercial building on Cordova for his father-in-law in 1903, and there was a Parr and Fee commission for a three storey block in 1906, also on Hastings (and it’s possible that the Blackmore commission was never built, and this was a Parr and Fee building).

In 2004 we photographed the building early in the year, only a couple of months before the local press reported the fire that destroyed the building: “The three-alarm fire raged through a two-storey building at 311-317 West Hastings, gutting the Blunt Brothers, a marijuana-oriented cafe that billed itself as “a respectable joint.” Smoke from the blaze on the edge of Gastown could be seen as far away as White Rock.

Vintage clothing store Cabbages and Kinx was also destroyed, as was Spartacus Books, a long-standing left-wing bookstore.”

As historian John Atkin noted at the time: “The building that has major damage [311-317 West Hastings] is a wonderful building with an amazing sheet metal facade to it, lots of pressed tin.  It was very rare in Vancouver because the original overscale pediment that sat on top of the building was still intact.  Those are one of the first things to fall down in windstorms or whatever, and here it was intact.”

Today the site remains one of the most obvious redevelopment opportunities, with some parking, and the odd movie shoot occupying the space.

Posted November 8, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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East Pender Street, 100 block – north side lane

This image, taken in 1914, shows the north side of East Pender, where the lane cuts through, with the buildings fronting onto Main Street on the right hand side of the picture. The street is dominated by the electrical infrastructure, because the BC Electric Power House and Transformer was three blocks south of here. The brick building on the right of the lane was the back corner of the back wing of City Hall, built fronting Westminster Avenue (today’s Main Street).

At 153 East Pender was Sang Lee Yuen’s grocery store, with Yin Hing Lung’s tailoring business also in the building. Next door was Wing Hong Chong’s produce store, and there was another grocer to the west, Mee Lung Jung. A few years earlier, in 1908, Alice Arnold had run 153 as a rooming house, and next door was the Railway Porter’s Club.

From the late 1890s these were part of the Dupont Street (unsanctioned) red light district; in 1901 Jennie Manning ran 153, Frankie Reid was at 149 and Lottie Mansfield at 143. The houses, and their particular role in the city’s economy had been here for over a decade. The numbering was revised in the late 1890s, and 153 had been 133 in 1896 When Miss S Hatley was the occupant. Next door at 131 was one of Vancouver’s most successful madams, Dora Reno, while to here east was ‘Miss Mansfield’. The city authorities finally moved to shift the brothels from the area in 1906, and only Lottie Mansfield remained; the authorities weren’t able to move her on as she owned the house.

Laura Reno had been at 131 Dupont as early as 1889 (and probably commissioned the construction of the house, which was shown as a $1,500 building permit published on December 31 1888). Laura was Dora’s sister, and helped run Dora’s business. Dora owned property here as well; she lost the deeds to a property in 1891, and obtained a duplicate title after the necessary procedures.

Dora’s full name was Madora Reno, and the sisters were from Macoupin, Illinois, where Dora was born in 1858, and Laura two years later. The sisters moved from Fairhaven in 1889 where Dora ran the finest of the 20 establishments in the town. In Vancouver she had ‘retired’ by 1904 when she was prosecuted  for owning a house used for prostitution – 140 Dupont, one of four she owned on the street. Her lawyer successfully persuaded the court that the by-law wasn’t legally within the purview of the city authorities, but she took a lower profile from that point on. Laura Reno had previously been accused of running a bawdy house in 1889 and in 1890.

Both sisters owned property. As well as the 1888 permit, Laura Reno obtained a building permit in 1901 for 3 houses, designed by Parr and Fee on the corner of Dunlevy and Harris. In 1903 Dora repaired a house on East Hastings, again in 1906, and in 1913 carried out repairs to 132 E Hastings, and built a new $1,000 office/store at 134 E Hastings.

Today the two modest buildings here are from 1982 (beside the lane) and 1947.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives LGN 1241.

 

Posted September 27, 2018 by ChangingCity in Chinatown, East End, Gone

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139 East Cordova Street

This building, with its fancy brickwork patterns, dates back to 1912 when it was built by Dominion Construction at a cost of $22,000. The developer was A C McNeil, and helpfully, we don’t need to look for him in the city’s street directories as he was recorded on the building permit as ” (of Montana, USA)”. He hired J P Matheson as his architect on the building that would open as the Harbour Rooms, run by Mrs. Essie Thompson. There had been a house on the lot before this development was built.

Quite why Mr. McNeil chose to build here is unclear, but there is a Butte resident who regularly visited the west coast, including Washington and Oregon. In 1917 A C McNeill was recorded as having taken a 1,300 road trip from Butte to ‘Spokane and the west’ with his wife and daughter – a remarkable distance for a road trip at the time. He visited Vancouver Island in 1929 and seems to have been a hotelier later in the 1930s, in Butte.

By the 1920s the spelling of the name had taken on the US preference – the Harbor Rooms – run by Mrs Ella Kelly in 1920, and Charles T Berryman from 1921 (who arrived in the city after the 1921 census). He also ran the Harbor Bar downstairs. By 1930 the name had changed to the New Harbor Rooms, run by H Anderson, and by 1934 the New Harbour Rooms, run by C Traversy. (The new art deco black retail façade might have been added around this time, although it could have been in 1945 when the building’s name was changed). In 1938 The New Harbor Rooms were run by Uda Zenkichi. In 1942 there was still a Japanese proprietor, H Iwasaki, but a year later he would have been interned, and Quon Hon had taken over. In 1945 the proprietorship changed to Pang Mock, and the name to the United Rooms. It still had that name when this 1985 image was taken, and today when the rooms are managed as a privately owned SRO rooming house by the Shun Chi Company.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-2450

Posted September 20, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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West Pender Street – 100 Block (2)

We looked at this block of West Pender from the other end in an earlier post. Here, we’re looking east and down the hill from Victory Square. On the corner of Cambie Street is the Edgett Building, actually developed by Francis Carter Cotton and later used by H A Edgett for his wholesale fruit and vegetable company. Today it’s the home of the Architectural Institute of BC. Next door is a vacant site, soon to be redeveloped with a non-market rental building, but originally home of the Calumet, a rental building that may have been one of Sam Kee’s investment hotels, where he hid his ownership (as the building was outside Chinatown) by having the Building Permit submitted by his lawyers, Parkes & McDonald.

Next door going east were two hotels, still standing today and operated as well managed privately owned SRO Hotels. The Silver was developed by W S Silver, and English born broker who lived in Burnaby (with Silver Avenue being named for him). Designed by Grant & Henderson, it was completed in 1914, five years after the Savoy Rooms, later the Avalon Hotel, designed by Parr and Fee for McLennan and Campbell.

The Vancouver Public Library picture (above) was taken in 1912, while the one below dates from 1981, after the Calumet had burned down. In 1981 137 West Pender was still standing; a warehouse built in 1915 probably developed by an advertising executive called I N Bond. That was replaced in 1989 by Pendera a non-market housing building designed by Davidson & Yuen that was part of the Jim Green era Downtown Eastside Residents Association development program.

Image sources Vancouver Public Library and City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E16.12

 

Posted September 13, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone, Still Standing

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50 East Cordova Street

This is an SRO building in the Downtown Eastside that displays some similar characteristics to its neighbours on either side (designed by the same architect, and built in the same year). Built in 1911 for Daniel Campbell, it was designed by Hugh Braunton with Edgell & Dixon hired to build the $30,000 investment. Completed in 1912, it was initially named the Cordova Rooms.

There were several Daniel Campbells in Vancouver, but only one was a real estate broker. Born in Ontario in 1863, he lived at 1201 Georgia with his wife Kate, who was three years younger than Daniel, and in 1911 their bookkeeper son William who was aged 17, and who had been born in the US, and arrived in Canada aged two. Daniel was a partner in the Campbell-Walker Brokerage Co.

Like many other real estate businesses, things went badly for Campbell-Walker as the Great war added to the recession that had already hit the economy. The 1915 Government Gazette lists a number of lots where they had failed to pay the appropriate taxes, and where they were in arrears.

Renamed as the Wonder Rooms, this property briefly achieved notoriety as one of the properties co-owned by a former pharmacist, George Wolsey, who lost his pharmacy licence for forcing residents at the buildings he owned to get their methadone prescriptions filled through his pharmacy. In 2012 a court-appointed receiver assumed control of the buildings and began hunting for prospective buyers, and Vancouver-based nonprofit Community Builders agreed to take over running the building. Sold for over a million dollars, tenants who had successfully launched a class-action lawsuit against the owners of the two dilapidated single-room-occupancy buildings in 2011 were unable to obtain their $18,000 payout as Mr Wolsey failed to show up in court, or make payment. During the lawsuit the state of the building was described. “Structurally, the building is falling apart, the fire seals are breached, the fire escapes are blocked, the toilets don’t work, there is a single shower for three floors of people.” Things are better than that these days, but the rooms no longer let at the welfare rate.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-2444

Posted September 3, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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