Archive for the ‘Gastown’ Category

Terminus Hotel – 34 Water Street

Terminus

We’ve looked at many of the buildings on Water Street on this blog, but somehow overlooked the Terminus. It was completed in 1902 at a cost of $8,000 for W Jones, replacing a building erected quickly after the 1886 fire, possibly designed by Bunning and Kelso (according to the first edition of Exploring Vancouver). They weren’t architects, but they might have been builders; in 1888 Bunning was a carpenter. This attribution of this building thought it dated back to 1887. (There was an even earlier saloon run by Bill Blair before the fire that was originally a restaurant run by George Brew ‘when he wasn’t drunk or in prison’.)

The façade still standing today was designed by Emil Guenther, and for five years (including in our picture) all that was visible was a three storey façade and the side wall propped up with steel bracing after a fire destroyed the building in 2000. Given the ferocity of the fire, it’s remarkable that the front of the building stayed standing. The Heritage Statement still describes it as a propped façade, but that’s very outdated as in 2008 a new development was completed along with the adjacent Grand Hotel to restore the retail use and add condos on the upper floors (and two additional floors set back from the heritage element). The Grand was an earlier building, dating back to 1889, and the owner, Thomas J Roberts, was killed in while attending a card game in 1918, as we noted in an earlier post.

The owner of the new Terminus Hotel when it was built was William Rees Jones; one of six people called William Jones in the city in 1901. He was either born in England into a Welsh family (1901 census) or in Wales (1891 census), and he had arrived in Canada in 1858 when he would have been aged about 15. He was running the Terminus from 1890, buying it from Bill Blair. William Blair was from Maine, and he appears in very early Granville (pre Vancouver) street directories; the first we’ve found him in was in 1882 when he was running the Deighton House, built by ‘Gassy Jack’ many years earlier. Before he arrived in Granville he was in Victoria from 1877. Around 1884 he’d moved up the street to run a saloon at this location, with Blair’s Hall at the back, where dances, meetings (and church services) were held. After he sold the bar, Blair became a general contractor.

In October 1901 the replacement building for the Terminus was announced. The original hotel and saloon weren’t torn down; rather, they were moved to the rear of the site (which hadn’t been redeveloped as a hall after the fire) to clear the space at the front for the new structure.

In what reads suspiciously like an ‘advertorial’ – but which was typical of the day for the thoroughness of the description, the Vancouver Daily Work of 22 March 1902 announced the completion: “On  the Site of a Pioneer Water Street Hotel Rises a Complete Up-to-date Structure. Many people thought that the lot on which the Terminus hotel stood could not be made useable for a hotel. It was enclosed between high buildings on either side and the light was shut off. Since the days when Vancouver was a baby the Terminus had been there. It was one of the first hotels that reared itself phoenix – like above the ashes, and Mr. William, Jones hated to change the locality. He therefore decided that once again the house should arise, and he entrusted the work of making the plans to Emil B. Guenther. The result is that there stands today one of the most complete hostelries in Vancouver on the site of what was the old Terminus. The building has a brick front with stone finishings, with a series of bow windows on the front that give a view direct across the Inlet from the front and also a view each way east and west. The general contractor for the building was E. Cook, the well known contractor, whose foreman on the contract was George W. Maynard. The sub – contractors were: (including heaters in bar for hot water. Cope & Frey; heating, hot water, Leek & Co.; for fixtures, Robertson and Hackett: plumbing. W. Brown; painting. H. Miller; furnishing, Chas. Hach; bedding, Pioneer Mattress Factory, R. F. Campbell, manager.

The architect Emil Guenther, went to Seattle and Tacoma to see if anything had been overlooked. The result is that from his own ideas and what he learned abroad on the old site of the Terminus has arisen the most perfect hotel that is to be found of its kind on the const. It was enclosed on either side by high wholesale houses, and the greatest feature was to secure perfect light. This has been done by the judicious use of a skylight that takes in the whole roof. Through this it has been arranged that there is not a dark room in the house. The main entrance is from Water street, but on either side are entrances to the basement, in which are situated a barber shop and a day and night restaurant. The latter will be under the charge of Mr. W. McArthur. The dining room is connected by speaking tubes and bells with the bar, and that is in itself a credit to local workmanship, it is finished in polished oak with tile floor and gutter. The bar is 40 feet long and the back is designed in a series of arches with half – curved pilasters and capitals. The wainscoting is terra cotta cement with enamelled surface finishing, ensuring absolute sanitariness, and the walls and ceiling are finished in pressed steel in tastefully blended shades, making a complete poem in color. The kitchen is supplied with a flue 8 feet by 1 inches, clear to the top, so that it is impossible for any odor to reach the storeys above. The bedrooms are supplied with good, substantial furniture from the well known house of C. Hach, and all the beds have the “D. P.” springs and the “Jumbo” soft mattresses. The house was open to the public today at 11 a.m., and is many ways as regards completeness and novelties not overlooking, for example, the electric water heaters supplied by Cope & Frey will be of interest to the public generally. Mr. Jones’ confidence in the city is shown, by the fact that he has invested in this building $35,000. Old timers will remember the Terminus locality. Near it was our first church, and on the lot on which it stands was a building in which Sunday services were held in the early days. Those who were here in the old times will remember the gospel hall and will he pleased to know that the man who so freely gave his Premises for the carrying on of any good work in the early days has prospered.”

This suggests Mr. Jones might have been a really ‘old timer’ in the city. There are hints of this elsewhere – a reference in the Archives notes of Major Matthews to “Dissolution of Partnership between William Jones and John Thomas (“Navvy Jack” Thomas – another Welshman), and “Partnership Notice” between William Jones and Joseph Mannion, published in Mainland Guardian, 5 April 1873.” Indeed, looking for references to “Billy Jones” reveals more references to his early saloon, next door to the Granville House Hotel (which he had originally partnered with Mannion to acquire from Ebenezer Brown). In 1874 he was in partnership with Mannion. Despite this we haven’t found any early directory references to William (or Billy) Jones in Granville. At least one interviewee thought he was an American. The first reference to the Terminus is in 1889 when Bill Blair was proprietor before William Jones bought it a year later. We have no idea what William Jones – assuming it’s the same William Jones – did between the mid 1870s and buying the saloon in 1890, but he wasn’t in Granville/Vancouver.

The new hotel’s early history is recorded in the newspapers of the day; a drunk who tried to kick out all the panels of the hotel; underage drinkers identified by the police; theft of a visitor’s bicycle wheel. A more serious case was a 1905 attempt to remove Mr. Jones’s licence because he was present when his barman was serving drink ‘after hours’ when the curtains had been pulled to indicate the bar was closed. (It was during one of the periods in the city’s history when the forces of temperance were trying to restrict the serious drinking that took place). W J Bowser, the lawyer defending the case successfully persuaded the Magistrate that it wasn’t an intentional lapse of the law, as one drinker was resident in the hotel (and therefore a member of the household who could legitimately drink at any time) and the other was understood to be resident – although he had in fact moved to a different establishment a short while before.  In 1906 the Daily World announced “WATER ST. HOTEL SOLD. S. Swoboda, mayor of Wetaskiwin, Alberta, has purchased the Terminus hotel, Water street, from William Jones. Mr. Swoboda has no intention of starting in the hotel business, hut he talks of selling out his extensive interests in Alberta, and coming to the coast. The Terminus is one of the oldest hotels in the city.”

In February 1908 the hotel was mentioned several times when a patron was stabbed. In 1909 the hotel, with 33 rooms, was offered for sale again. Leased at $250 a month, it was offered for sale at $33,000. The licensee, George Patton, was in court later that year, accused of allowing gambling on the premises. The attempts to sell the property don’t seem to have been successful, or Mr Jones had second thoughts as W Jones, was still the owner in 1912 when he had R H Atkinson design an alteration to the store here. The 1911 street directory shows that he wasn’t running the hotel by then; that was R Fiddler and James Thompson. Thompson had run the hotel on his own from 1905 (although he was mis-identified as Johnson that year), but William Jones was shown still living in the hotel, but from 1906 he was in retirement.

At some point the hotel ceased offering the full hotel facilities: In 1912 it was still a hotel run by Robert Fiddes, but by 1914 it was the Terminus Rooms, run by Henry Savinar and in 1917 by H Avoca. The ethnicity of the owners changed over the years. In 1936 it was listed as the Terminus Hotel (rooms) run by G Iguchi. In 1948 the rooms were run by H Summers, and the 1955 listing was for the TERMINUS Hotel (Wong Jun Ming) rooms.

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Posted June 9, 2016 by ChangingCity in Altered, Gastown

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Water Street west from near Abbott

Water St west from Abbott

We have previously reviewed the development of Edward Lipsett’s properties to the left of this picture in an earlier post, and a subsequent follow-up. (We also looked at The Gold House, the hotel that was here earlier). We were fairly sure that the property was developed in phases, with the first being a warehouse and factory for Edward Lipsett, sail maker, costing $10,000 and designed by Dalton and Eveleigh in 1906. This image is undated, but comes from the early 1900s – which would match our understanding of the property phasing. It’s clear that the Lipsett building has two floors at this point, and had a vacant lot to the west, so that matches our understanding that a $20,000 permit in 1912 for a 2-storey brick addition saw the building extended vertically. The subsequent infill to the west came later, initially with just one storey, then completed to almost match the 1906/1912 building.

Beyond is Sven Sherdahl’s Dominion Hotel, developed in 1900 and designed by Emil Guenther. Across Abbott Street is the Winters Hotel from 1907, and on the other side of Water Street is Parr and Fee’s Leeson, Dickie, Gross and Co’s warehouse, built in 1909 (so pushing the date of the picture into a narrower band). Across Abbott is McLennan & McFeely’s warehouse that they leased to the Canadian Fairbanks Company, built in 1905. In 1914 (and not 1912 as the Heritage Statement suggest) the Prince Rupert Meat Company built the seven storey warehouse on the extreme right of the picture next to Leeson’s, which they claimed to design and build themselves. That logically puts the date of the image between 1910 and 1913.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA M-11-53

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48 – 56 Water Street

48-56 Water St

This modest two storey structure dates back to 1906; according to the heritage statement it was built for Jacob Kane. Unusually, the construction used pre-cast concrete blocks that look like stone. There’s a 1906 news piece that says that J Kane had obtained a permit for an $11,000 building on Water Street. In the same paper it noted that Dan McPhail had bought the property with Mr. Kane with a view to adding an addition to the existing building at the back, and building a new front – so the bones of the building were probably older. Earlier that year J Kane of Kamloops was staying at the Dominion Hotel, just up the street from here. There was a J Kane who owned mining interests in the province in 1894, but beyond those disjointed pieces of information we haven’t managed to pin down a developer, or identify an architect for the building. J Kane was listed in the 1901 census as a lodger in a location we haven’t managed to identify yet – he was born in Ireland, a businessman and had arrived in Canada in 1899 aged 33. His location may have been waiting to sail on board the Empress of India: most of the household are ship’s crew. He was probably christed Jacobus, and came from a family with Italian origins; there are a surprising number of Jacobus Kanes born in England and Ireland in the 19th Century.

The first tenants in the building seem to have been a fruit and confectionery dealer, F Baiocchi and Elias Healman was selling clothing next door. In 1910 Richard Johnson, a shoemaker was here with Weinrobe & Cohn’s clothing store and the Vancouver Employment Agency upstairs. In 1916 Tomlinson & Cook hired Hugh Murray to design and build a $400 brick addition to the building. That year it was a different shoemaker, Samuel Goodall was at 50 Water Street, the Mainland Rooming house was upstairs and Benjamin Wolfe, a second hand dealer in 56 Water Street. In 1920 Mr. Goodall was still in business and a branch of the Great North Western Telegraph Company were also located here.

In 1926, when this Vancouver Public Library image was taken, H Brown and Son, wholesale meat merchants had the eastern half, and H M Nugent (who made tents and awnings as well as waterproof clothing), the western half. They were right next door to Edward Lipsett’s tent and awning company, so presumably you could comparison shop without difficulty. The Canadian National Telegraph also had their office here. Henry and his son Myer Brown were Hungarian; The 1911 census suggests they had arrived in 1898 (older children like Myer were born in Hungary, four younger children were born in British Columbia). Henry Nugent was an American who arrived in Canada in 1906. He was married to Lilly, from Ontario (where their son had been born in 1909) and in 1921 lived with her parents James and Mary Nairne.

Remarkably, all three businesses were still in the same location in 1940, although the upper floor (52 Water Street) was vacant. In 1942 the Beulah Rescue Mission occupied that space. The mission served meals twice a day to the city’s indigent (while saving souls at the same time). It continued to operate here for at least 30 years.

In 2006 the building was effectively redeveloped, although the façade was retained with a new ‘old’ store front. Virtually every existing building element was replaced, including the structural, architecture, mechanical, and electrical systems. Busby and Associates, designing the project for Neils Bendsten’s Inform furniture store used heavy mass concrete, brick, and wood materials to restore as many original architectural features as possible. A green roof, complete with a skylight, was provided as well. A vertical geo-exchange system has been installed below the existing structure which, combined with a radiant heating and cooling system and exhaust air heat recovery, significantly reduces the building’s energy consumption.

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Posted April 28, 2016 by ChangingCity in Altered, Gastown

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Oriental Hotel – 306 Water Street

Oriental 306 Water

The Oriental was an early wooden hotel quite a bit to the west of the main action of Maple Tree Square. It sold itself on its proximity to the railway terminus, and first appeared in 1888 with an addition built in the same year. It was a couple of doors down from the Regina Hotel – the only building that survived to fire of 1886. In 1889 it was numbered as 208 Water Street, and was run by John Crean and Richard Fleming (who had been a clerk at the Regina a year earlier). In 1890 they got the first big hotel omnibus. As Major Matthews recorded: “Prior to that most hotels had busses which met the C.P.R. trains and C.P.N. and U.S.S. Co. boats—then the only things to meet—but they were comparatively small, with a seat fore and aft along the side, and black canvas side and roof; the side flaps could be rolled up in fine weather. The Oriental Hotel had a big bus.”

William Edwards, who used to drive the bus told the Major: “We used to haul twenty-five persons in that bus; great big bus, make three trips down to the C.P.R. station; seventy-five from one C.P.R. train. There was not room at times in the house” (hotel) “to accommodate them, but we bunked all just the same. We had little cots, and we used to push the regulars out of their rooms into the hallways, set them up in cots, and keep them there until the rush was over, then let them go back to the rooms the transients had pushed them out of.

Gabriel’s Thomas’s son, also called Gabriel, talked to Major Matthews about the picture “This is the Oriental Hotel on Water Street; next door west, south side, to the old Regina Hotel which escaped the ‘fire,’ on the southwest corner of Cambie and Water Street. John Crean and Gabriel Thomas (that’s my father), proprietors. Father is on the balcony with his hand resting on the railing knob. John Crean is in front of the halyards of the flag pole. I don’t know who the man in the middle is.”

Jimmie’ Edwards drove the bus—horse-drawn bus. Met every C.P.R. train and boat, and also Evans, Coleman Evans to meet the Joan coming from Nanaimo. That was all the trains and boats there were to meet in those days. The bus used to be crowded sometimes and sometimes had to return for those they could not pick up the first trip. The first Oriental was the tall building in the middle with gable end roof; then it was extended to the west, but, on the east side, what appears to be an extension is actually only a store front—a blank wall for show. The lower part is the saloon, what we call beer parlour now.”

Richard Fleming sold his part share to Gabriel Thomas in 1891. That year’s St Patrick’s day saw a report of the dining facilities in the Daily World: “The fervent love of the ould sod, characteristic of Paddy’s boys, was never better evidenced than last evening, when the Ancient Order of Hibernians invited their brethren and sympathetic friends to a banquet at tho Oriental hotel. This hostelry has the reputation of being excelled by few in its cuisine, and the dinner, served at 9 o’clock, set before the large number of assembled guests fully sustained the reputation of the House.” The next day the hotel appeared again, in somewhat different circumstances “Only one case, that of a Chinaman charged with stealing underwear from a room in the Oriental hotel, was up in the Police Court this morning, He was dismissed.”

In 1892 we get confirmation that Gabriel Thomas lived at the hotel “Capt. Pittendrigh, coroner, came over from Westminster to – day, in the absence of Dr. McGuigan, and empannelled a jury to enquire into the circumstances surrounding the death of William Baylis, who was found dead in his room at the Oriental hotel yesterday with a bullet hole in his head. The only feature that was brought out beyond what was told in yesterday’s Woki.p was the statement of the young son of Mr. Thomas, one of the proprietors of the hotel, that he heard a pistol shot at about 4 o’clock in the morning. The jury brought in a verdict of suicide while temporarily insane.” This wasn’t the only death at the hotel that year. In November “Angus Fraser, C.P.R. section foreman at Cherry Creek, was found dead in bed at the Oriental hotel shortly before noon on Sunday. The deceased was well known throughout the Province, having been in the C.P.R. employ for the past nine years. He had been ailing for some time back of heart disease, his medical attendant being Dr. Tunstall.”

Crean and Thomas held the hotel until 1897, when Blanchfield and Grieves took over. An 1896 report suggested “The work on the construction of the new Oriental hotel, to be erected by Mr. Costello, on part of his lot, corner of Cambie and Hastings street, will be begun in a few days.” That new property never obtained the Oriental name – Gabriel Thomas ran the Commercial Hotel here. In 1898 John Meikeljohn owned the Oriental, with W E Fowler as manager. Mr Meikeljohn was reported to have sold the hotel after two years of ownership in November 1899, but Mr Fowler was still manager (and Richard Fleming was the clerk), and Mr Meikeljohn appears to still be the owner until June 1900 when it was sold at auction. In 1901 Mrs Caroline Norgood was the owner, and in 1902 the hotel is shown as ‘vacant’. It then became the Mission Evangelistic Science Hall to the east, although the Oriental Hotel name reappeared in 1906, with Mary Knight as proprietor. The Knight family lost two infant children while they ran the hotel; the funeral of their 4-month-old son was held at the hotel in November 1906. In 1910 Selby Baker was shown as the proprietor, and in 1911 the hotel had gone.

Paul Yee has published the details: “Sam Kee owned five hotel sites and buildings in central Vancouver and leased from German entrepreneur Edward Stolterfoht two sites on which it then constructed hotels for sub-leasing.  In managing its hotels, the firm dealt firmly with civic officials through its lawyers R. R. Parkes and W. A. Macdonald, K.C. In March 1911 the city health inspector condemned Sam Kee’s Oriental Hotel and ordered it demolished. The company, however, argued that its solicitor and architect had consulted earlier with two civic aldermen and the building inspector, and they had all agreed to let the building stand for another five years. Sam Kee ordered its lawyer to appeal the decision, but in vain.”

In 1911 W and E C Taylor hired Grant and Henderson to design a warehouse for their Empress Manufacturing Co, which dealt in imported coffee and locally produced jams and jellies. In 2003 it became a stratified residential building with 22 units designed by Acton Ostrey.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Hot P50

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Posted April 25, 2016 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Gone

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Malkin Warehouse – 55 Water Street

Malkin Water St

This is the Malkin Warehouse on Water Street, and if you had any doubt about what W H Malkin traded in, they added a huge sign to make sure you knew they were wholesale grocers (very obvious in this 1929 Vancouver Public Library image).

William Malkin arrived in Canada from Burslem in Staffordshire in 1884, joining his brother James in Grenfell, Saskatchewan. Not doing well as wheat farmers, William went to work with a hardware importer, and after selling their homestead, James went off to work in Lethbridge, Alberta. A few years later they both ended up in Vancouver, James moving independently first, then William with the wholesaler he was working for, listed in the street directory as ‘O Percy Skrine’ who acquired premises on Water Street. In 1891, Osmund Percie Skrine was a farmer and general store owner in Grenfell; (the Archives have a photograph of his sheep farm), who had previously managed a tea estate in Ceylon. A third brother, John, joined them, also working for Mr. Skrine.

In 1897 W H Malkin bought out the Skrine business, (the owner was no longer living in Vancouver in 1898, and doesn’t appear in the 1901 Census. He settled in Bradford upon Avon in England in 1905, and died there in 1924.) The name of the company was changed to W H Malkin & Co, with both his older and younger brother joining the company. The Malkins built a 5-storey warehouse at 137 Water Street in 1897 (where the Skrine warehouse had been located), and in 1903 moved to a new bigger warehouse at 353 Water Street, built by J McLuckie. Finally, growing even more to meet demand from the mining boom in the Kootenays and the Klondike Gold Rush, they built this building in 1907 and extended it eastwards in 1912. The first building was designed by Parr and Fee; its twin’s design was claimed by the owners and built by J M McLuckie at a cost of $55,000. It’s unclear what Parr & Fee thought about their design being replicated without receiving payment, (if that was the case), but it wasn’t exactly a complicated project in the first place – certainly far less advanced than the warehouse on the same block that they designed, completed in 1909. It’s a huge structure constructed on the tried and true ‘brick and stick’ basis, with huge structural timbers making the frame (decreasing in size, and weight, the further up the building you go) and a brick skin, often barely attached to the frame.

Like many of the successful merchants the family were involved in civic and professional organisations. W H was a Director of both the British Columbia Permanent Loan Co and the Pacific Coast Fire Insurance Co. He was President of the Board of Trade in 1902 and 1903 and was a member of the royal commission on provincial assessment and taxation in 1910 and 1911. He was very involved in the Methodist Church, and also a Freemason.

malkin labelsThe company grew significantly, and specialised in importing grocery from England. They were the importers for Peek Freans biscuits, Chivers of Cambridge and Cadburys of York. Their 1897 premises were 5,000 square feet in size – with the addition to their 1907 warehouse in 1912 they had 116,000 square feet of space. The company sold a comprehensive line of spices, jams and tinned goods, some as ‘Malkin’s Best’ and some under the ‘Malko’ brand.

In 1929 W H Malkin became mayor, partly on a platform of reform to clear up what was seen as a corrupt police force (a perennial Vancouver issue, but on this occasion with some justification) and partly on a return to prohibition, backed by the Christian Vigilance League. Curiously, although as a staunch Methodist, W H Malkin was in favour of prohibition, (and donated $1,000 to the cause), his company were accused of selling ‘Malkins Best’ extract as an alcohol substitute during prohibition in the early 1920s.

He ran a city that had added 50% to its population overnight, as South Vancouver and Point Grey merged that year into Vancouver. It was a difficult time for the city, as the economy faced a huge downturn after the Stock Exchange crash and unemployment rose sharply. While he laid the foundation stone for the Marine Building, started construction of important infrastructure for the city like sewers and the CPR tunnel from Coal Harbour to False Creek, Mayor Malkin also faced the occupation of the relief office by the unemployed and by year’s end 7,000 were receiving assistance, with no help from Victoria. W H Malkin lost the 1931 election to the east side supported L D Taylor (who had been mayor before 1929 as well) – although his regime was no better able to respond to a collapsed economy than Mayor Malkin had been.

James (Fred) Malkin died in 1950, in his 90s. He had been the first family member to propose moving to Canada, had ridden the Hope-Princeton trail on horseback, driven a model T Ford to New York from Vancouver, and enjoyed blowing up stumps on his Bowen Island property. He had married the much younger Julia, ‘the prettiest girl in Vancouver’

John (Philip) Malkin died in 1952, the youngest and most gregarious of the brothers who travelled widely in the service of the company. He was president of Neon Products of Western Canada (so indirectly associated with the highpoint of Vancouver’s illuminated past). He was a member of the Terminal City Club, a keen, (but self proclaimed ‘rotten’) golfer and listed his hobby in earlier years as yachting. He had come out of retirement during the war to work as director of purchases in the Department of Munitions and Supply in Ottawa. He had four children.

W H died in 1959 – a successful businessman who had been elected mayor, helped create the Burrard Bridge, taken on the role of ‘Colonel Malkin’ as the head of the BC Regiment and become a generous philanthropist who had funded the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, was the first Chair of the BC Cancer Foundation and funded the outdoor pavilion that would be called the Malkin Bowl in memory of his wife, Marion. He listed his hobbies as riding, driving and motoring (an interesting distinction).

The warehouse was successfully converted to live-work rental units in 2002, designed by Paul Merrick. The Old Spaghetti Factory, which has operated here since 1970, was not affected. Next door was a remarkable site – fifty feet of prime development potential on the city’s first street, that stood undeveloped until 2005. Reliance Holdings, who also carried out the conversion of the Malkin Building (as it is now known), got Bruce Carscadden Architects to design a contemporary but sympathetically designed new rental residential building, with 58 units over retail in a 10 storey structure.

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Posted April 21, 2016 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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The Leckie Building – Water and Cambie Streets

Water St east from Cambie

We saw this side of the 100 block of Water Street looking in the other direction. We also saw a small part of the huge building on the corner in comparison to an earlier building that was originally on the site, the Stag and Pheasant Hotel. The building we see today was built in several stages. The Leckies built the first part of the building in 1908, hiring Dalton and Eveleigh to build a new 7-storey leckie adstructure to produce industrial boots and shoes, aimed mostly at the fishing, mining and logging industries. The company tanned the leather at the Fraser River Tannery and manufactured the footwear here.

The first Leckie building had been built on Granville Street, in 1898, and still standing today. Richard and William Leckie opened a branch of their family’s Toronto based business there, initially selling fishing supplies, oilskin clothing, imported netting, sails, tents, and marine hardware. Noticing a limited supply of footwear suppliers they bought a Nanaimo tannery and moved the operation to Vancouver.

It appears the initially this new building was bigger than the company needed – the 1912 insurance map shows John Leckie and Company had their premises on the northern half of the Cambie frontage. Mackay, Smith Blair & Co had the other half of the building which occupied the corner. In 1913 they added the additional section to the east (it’s possible to make out a change in window width on the addition). This cost $50,000 to build, and Dalton and Eveleigh designed it as they had the first structure. The 1914 image above shows it newly completed, with Mackay, Smith Blair’s Dry Goods apparently occupying the bottom three floors on the corner.

Leckie Building

The building is one of the city’s biggest ‘brick and stick’ buildings – a wooden frame with brick skin. Extensive renovations in 1990 included seismic upgrades – a complicated steel cross-brace was installed running diagonally through the building attached to ‘ground anchors’ sunk 90 feet below the building. The building now offers office and retail space.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives LGN 991 and Vancouver Public Library

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Posted April 18, 2016 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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Gaslight Square – 131 Water Street

Gaslight Square

This contemporary building (when it was completed in 1974) represented a sign of success for Gastown. The picture was taken some time in the early 1980s; The entire block had been threatened with total annihilation only a few years earlier. Designed by Project 200 colour 1968 1Henriquez and project-200Todd for Marathon Realty, it filled a hole in Water Street that would have seen this block developed as part of a wall of huge contemporary buildings for Project 200, the massive redevelopment that dated from the early 1960s. (Here’s how that project looked in the late 1960s brochures).

Some of the buildings were to be apartments, there was a hotel, and obviously office space as well – including 200 Granville Street, the only tower actually built as part of the plan. While much of the construction would have taken place on elevated decks over the rail tracks (and a waterfront freeway extension), the 100 block of Water Street would have gone as well. The development partnership started buying up land in anticipation of the project proceeding – which is why Marathon (one of the partners in the project) ended up owning this site.

Project 200 was officially presented to City Council in 1966 (although it had been around longer, and was well known by councillors), and while some versions of history suggest it was the fierce opposition to the scale of the project, or the effect on Strathcona and Chinatown of the freeways that cut through those areas that sank it, really it was the exploding costs and a failure to agree on financing between the Federal and Provincial levels of government.

Once momentum was lost, a change in party control in Vancouver to TEAM ensured it wouldn’t return. Marathon Realty, CP Rail’s development arm ended up with this site, and with no prospect of a mega-tower, commissioned a more scale-appropriate project, with a courtyard, office and retail. The design was a contemporary interpretation of the bay windows found down the street, with a warm brick finish to match the warehouses. The screen of the façade had a gravity-defying extension beyond the flank wall.

The stairs that climb up inside the western end of the interior courtyard (on the left of the picture) were originally intended to be the entrance to a bridge that spanned the tracks to a new government-funded Fisherman’s Wharf style market on the waterfront. That idea was dropped when the even more radical Granville Island idea emerged, with Minister Ron Basford ensuring Federal funds (and control) to make it happen. That leaves a small coffee shop at the end of a flight of stairs with a great view over the rail tracks – if the freight cars aren’t blocking it.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-4922

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Posted July 16, 2015 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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