Archive for the ‘Gone’ Category

F W Hart – Cordova Street

We saw Frank Hart’s home on Cambie Street in an earlier post, when we looked at his history. Born in Illinois, he walked from his brother’s home in Semiahmoo to New Westminster in 1885, and then came to the township of Granville. A former bronco buster, he had learned to make furniture (and the undertaking business) in Walla Walla, in Washington, and that was the business he established here, on a piece of land he squatted on the water side of Alexander Street. He built a shack, which he extended twice to a 100 foot wide 2-storey building before he sold out for $800 to the CPR to allow them to lay their track into the new terminus. Within a short time he had new premises, but they burned down in the 1886 fire, and he started over again.

This was Frank’s furniture store at 29 Cordova Street in one of the earliest pictures of the city – taken some time in 1886. Five weeks after the fire in June this building, and many like it, had sprung up.

Mr. Hart was one of the city’s most active early entrepreneurs. As well as the furniture business he was the city’s undertaker, and the owner of the first ‘theatre’. It was known as Hart’s Opera House, (which was a bit of a stretch for a converted rollerskating rink with a canvas roof relocated from Port Moody). Initially run by Jack Levy, Frank bought the structure in 1887 (the year this portrait was taken), and it got its new name in 1888. The audience of up to 500 sat on wooden chairs (provided by Frank’s Pioneer Furniture company) in the front rows, or on wooden benches behind in the cheap seats, initially with coal oil lamps for lighting. Despite charging $1 for a chair, or 50c for the benches, this business probably didn’t generate much profit, as he had to pay the visiting troupes of actors that he hired to perform melodramas and musical comedies. Once the Imperial Opera House opened on Pender in 1889, the theatre business closed.

The undertaking business made some sense – nobody else was doing the job in the new city, and loggers lived a precarious existance, so even with a young population, there were funerals, and Frank could build the coffins in his Pioneer Furniture Factory. He bought the $1,500 horse-drawn hearse from an exhibition in Toronto, and stabled the horses at the Stanley Park Stables on Georgia Street.

Frank wasn’t alone here, although he never mentioned his sister, Anna, who came with him in 1885 and helped run the furniture business. She married H H Spicer in 1893. He ran a shingle mill on False Creek, and they then moved to Chilliwack and ran a farm, before moving again, to Alberta, where Anna died in 1925. 

Frank estimated that up to 1889 seventy-five percent of the furniture sold in the city was through his business, the Pioneer Furniture Store. He told the City Archivist “We used to have a car load of furniture a week arrive, and, including stablemen, drivers and others, had as many as one hundred men on my staff at one time or another.” He estimated he was making $1,000 a week, but times turned harder in the 1890s, and in 1895 Frank and his wife, Josephine, (who he married in 1889), left for Rossland, (where he built another Opera House) Phoenix and then Greenwood. After that he built the goldrush boomtown of Dyea in 1898, where he once again ran a furniture store and undertaking business. He made a fortune of $250,000, and promptly lost it, relocating again to Dawson. Eventually he settled in Prince Rupert, (from 1908) selling furniture, running an undertakers business and later buying, selling and developing property. His wife died in 1913

He returned to Vancouver every so often through to the 1930s, including in 1917 when aged 60 he married Amelia Ferguson, a widow eight years younger, and his late wife’s cousin. Frank died in Prince Rupert in 1935.

The early wooden buildings were mostly replaced soon after with more substantial, brick faced and more fireproof structures. This was developed as The Iroquois Hotel in 1907, although later it became known as The Stanley Hotel. It was developed by Evans, Coleman and Evans and designed by G W Grant, and in the past two years the facade has been retained and a new 10-storey rental building developed by Westbank built behind and above it.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu P325 and CVA Port P99.1



Posted 29 May 2023 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

Tagged with , ,

132 Cordova Street

This tobacconist and shoeshine was on Cordova Street in 1895. It was identified as the business of Fred Ackers, and his partner on the shoeshine stand wasn’t named. He lived in Dougall House, less than a block from his store.

There aren’t too many records for Fred, who died in 1929. The notice in the Province said “Fred Ackers, Former C.P.R. Stationmaster, Is Dead. A well known figure to Vancouver residents, Fred Ackers, 1084 Howe street, C.P.R. stationmaster, died this morning at St. Paul’s Hospital. Mr. Ackers, was born In Ontario In July, 1861, came to Vancouver about 1880. In 1903 he became night C.P.R. stationmaster and held that position until May, 1927, when he was pensioned. He was a single man.”

It looks like Fred knocked a few years off his age, as the only Frederick Ackers born in Ontario was born in Stirling, Stirling-Rawdon, Hastings, Ontario, in 1855. He was aged 6 in the 1861 census, and 16 a decade later, when he was living with his widowed mother, Mary, and working as a clerk. If his obituary got Fred’s age wrong, they may have mistaken other details. It looks as if he may have arrived not long before this image was taken. In 1894 he isn’t in the street directory in BC, (or for any earlier years), and W A Clark and Co occupied these premises.

He disappears again a year later, when a tailor was working here, but in 1897 Frederick Ackers was in Van Winkle, a mining post 14 miles from Barkerville, and in 1898 Fred Hugh Ackers was listed as a miner on the voting register in Lardeau, another mining community in the Cariboo. As was true for so many men hoping to make their fortune, it doesn’t appear Fred was particularly lucky as he reappeared in Vancouver in 1901 as a cook at the Atlantic Restaurant on Cordova, a job he held for three years. In 1904 he was listed as a policeman, and two years later the directory clarified that he was a policeman for the CPR, a listing that was still true in 1913. A year later he had the designation of Assistant Depot Master, and as assistant Station Master in the year that he died.

The building the business occupied didn’t last long as it was replaced by Woodward’s expansion that saw this spot as the hardware department. In turn, Woodwards was redeveloped in 2009 and this is now a Dental Wellness Centre at the base of a 41 storey residential tower.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu P264


Posted 25 May 2023 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

Tagged with

Georgia Medical Dental Building

It would be hard to choose whether this, the Birks Building, or the second Hotel Vancouver were the greatest losses of architecturally significant buildings in the city. This office building was a landmark, and while we’ve seen glimpses of it in other posts, this Leslie Sheraton image shows its design more clearly.

We’re not sure of the date of the image, but the car strongly suggests it was the 1950s – as far as we can tell it’s a 1955 Cadillac 60 Special. Built in 1927-29, the building was the first art deco skyscraper built in Vancouver and was designed by the same architects (McCarter and Nairne) who designed the even more elaborate Marine Building as this was completing.

“Like the Marine Building it rose in tiers, topped by pale terra cotta that dripped off the brick facade like ice cream,” reported the Vancouver Sun. The sculptures of nurses on the corners of the building were designed by Joseph Francis Watson. Made of terra cotta, they were removed before the structure was imploded in 1989. The Vancouver Sun said they were “Affectionately known as the Rhea sisters – Diarrhea, Pyorrhea and Gonorrhea.” One was retained by the Museum of Vancouver, one is on a building at UBC, and one was auctioned off for the Vancouver Heritage Conservation Foundation which was created after heritage supporters had fought and failed to save the building.

There were 150 doctors and dentists in offices here, as well as an x-ray unit and a clinical lab. Sixty years later a California company placed 600 sticks of dynamite slotted into holes drilled into the walls, and brought the building down in under 12 seconds, watched by a crowd estimated at 30,000 (and viewable on YouTube).

The new office building named Cathedral Place was completed in 1991. A review by Robin Ward in the Sun said “The old building may have been worth remembering but I don’t think it was necessary (other than to placate the heritage lobby) to stick bits of it on to the new building. The imitation terra-cotta lions, nurses (which are not the originals, by the way) and fussy railings detract from the building’s robust composition.”

Not every Councillor was in favour of the new building, designed by Paul Merrick, including elements of the older one. In 1989 The Sun reported “Ald. Jonathan Baker slammed his fellow aldermen’s comments, saying the argument has “an element of architectural necrophilia. “The fact is, this is an old, ugly building,” he said. “I don’t know that all this stuff (artwork) should be a curse that now has to be stuck on the (new) building. Do we have to glue all this plastered, plastic crap of architectural junk from an old building on to a new building?”

Alderman Gordon Price said of the replacement “the new design was of such quality that it will override any reason for saving the medical building”, and the developer, The Shon Group, had reports showing the old building was beyond repair (although those arguing for its retention disputed them). They had owned the building for 16 years when they proposed its replacement in 1987.

One outcome of the replacement of the building was a new policy in 1991, that hasn’t totally changed heritage preservation in the city, but has had an impact. “Council has instructed that prior to consideration of a proposal that includes demolition of an “A” listed building, a formal independent consultant’s report on the physical condition and economic viability of retaining the building be reviewed by the Director of Planning. The report is at the expense of the applicant.

Today the replica nurses are on a building with no medical connections at all. The tenants are a typical Downtown Vancouver mix of lawyers, mining companies, financial advisers and real estate businesses.


Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 2008-022.040

Posted 22 May 2023 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Tagged with

960 Richards Street

This part of Yaletown was once full of low commercial buildings, many of them associated with motoring. Here is another in a 1928 Vancouver Public Library image. There was nothing built on these lots as late as 1920. In 1928 Pioneer Carriage Works hired Bedford Davidson to build an $8,500 Workshop/Factory/Warehouse, which we think is the 2-storey building on the right, but the single storey building’s permit has escaped us.

There were minor alterations to a garage here in 1927 by Pioneer Carriage Works. There was another Bedford Davidson $10,000 building shown developed by Pioneer on the next two lots to the north in 1920. Leyland Motors were occupying those premises in 1924, (with Vancouver Auto Painting), and the Pioneer Auto and Carriage Works occupied these three buildings.

The Pioneer business had been established before 1910, further down the block to the north. They were a firm of auto body builders run my William Alexander, Michael McLean and William Benson, and seem to have developed from the Pioneer Carriage and Shoeing Co, shifting from horses to horseless carriages.

In 1926 The Province reported “John H. Robbins, of Carriage Building Firm died Monday. After an Illness of nearly a year, John Henry Robbins, 25 Sixth avenue west, passed away Monday In his 72nd year, He was a native of N. S, where be carried on a carriage plant for thirty years. Coming to Vancouver nineteen years ago, the deceased located in the grocery business. Later he and Mr. K. Schuldl started the Pioneer Carriage Factory, which firm they carried on for a number of years. Mr. Robbins will be mourned by many friends not only In Vancouver, but In Honolulu, where he spent many winters.”

By 1933 this was a tyre business; “Thieves and Prowlers Rob Tire Company. Breaking Into premises of Pioneer Carriage & Tire Co., 960 Richards street, thieves carried off eight automobile tires and hid them in a nearby shed. Police found the stolen goods
and waited in vain for the thieves to return for their plunder.”

By the 1950s the premises were occupied by Union Bus Sales, in the 1970s Dun and Bradstreet had an office here, and in the 1990s Monarch Beauty Supply were based here.

In 2000 a new 30 storey condo tower project with a townhouse base was developed by De Cotiis Management, designed by Howard Bingham Hill and called The Savoy.


Main Street – 100 block, west side

We had this shot lined up about six years ago, but knew there was a new building planned, so waited for a while to reshoot it. This is the 100 block of Main Street looking north from Powell, photographed some time between 1980 and 1997. We know it’s the early 1980s rather than the 1990s. That’s because off in the distance, in line with the eastern sidewalk is the Pier built by the Canadian National Railway in 1931 for their steamships. It was demolished in 1984, having been abandoned as a pier in the 1950s. The building lived on for a while as the Oompapa Restaurant and Happy Bavarian Inn in the 1970s, then The Dock, and finally O’Hara’s, which failed as a music venue, but not before Trooper had Raised a Little Hell there. Today the land it stood on is part of the road loop that heads down to the waterfront and CRAB Park.

Closest to us on the left is Firehall #2, built in 1974. There had been a single storey store built here by P Walsh in 1912. The three modest buildings to the north have been replaced with a new rental building. Of the three 2-storey buildings that it replaced, the building closest to us (147 Main) wasn’t especially old, having been built in 1946, and rebuilt in 1977. The middle building (123 Main) was developed by the Marks Brothers in 1928, and cost only $4,500 to build. They both appear to be the first structures erected on their sites. The Marks Brothers were Heuston and Percy Marks, electrical installers, and their business was still at 123 Main up the the 1970s, although for 50 years it was run by Ray and Bernard Gallie.

The third, 121 Main, was the oldest of the three, and had the most interesting history. Some distance outside what we now consider Chinatown, it was developed by Kwong, Sang & Co. in 1911, hiring F H Strain as architect, and R A McCulloch to build the $7,000 building. Yuen Chang carried out repairs in 1915, and Shue Yuen & Co (who were tenants, and produce dealers) two years later. The 1920 insurance map shows a second hand store in the building, but the street directory didn’t pick that up.

Kwong, Sang & Co were Japanese and Chinese importers, and this location made some sense as it’s almost in Japantown, but they never operated their business here. Their company address was always on Hastings Street. (There was a tailor in Victoria called Kwong Sang, but we doubt that there’s a connection to this building, and also a grocer in Barkerville). They imported silk and Chinese goods, tea, including Ceylon, matting and cane chairs. They advertised in English in the main newspapers. A 1911 Province advertisment shows they also dealt in property, offering three lots for sale, on Seymour, Pender and Powell. In 1911 they moved to a new address on East Pender. In 1913 they advertised a site on Powell Street where they were willing to erect a building, warehouse or store. By the end of 1914 they had added another store, at 50 E Hastings. In time this became the Style Cafe and then the Stadacona Cafe.

In 2019 FDG Property Management developed a new 9-storey rental building with 56 units, nine of them built for non-market rental.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-1085


Posted 11 May 2023 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

Tagged with , ,

536 Hornby Street

This is Hornby Mansions (the name it had when it was developed) seen here in 1974, when it had become the Hornby Rooms. We haven’t been able to identify a permit, so we don’t know who built, or owned the property. It was already complete by April 1909, when someone in Room 37 was selling a Boston terrier. In November there was a terse classified for sale ad: ‘For Sale – Rooming House, apply Hornby Mansions’, and a year later rooms were ‘under new management’. A tenant in Room 12 was hiring Agents and street hucksters that year.

By 1923 it was owned by J H Roaf who carried out repairs and alterations. The first mention we can find for him in the city was in 1903, when he was on the steamer from Victoria. He was initially a traveller for Wood, Vallance & Legatt, and in 1905 a sales clerk. Given the modest income this would suggest he enjoyed, we’re intrigued that in 1905 he commissioned Grant and Henderson to design a commercial block on Richards Street. We assume that might have been on behalf of somebody else, possibly his father, but he also built a substantial house in the West End in 1906 that cost him $5,500. At the end of March 1907 his father, William Roaf died at John’s home on Davie Street. In April he married Helen Macfarlane, who was seven years younger, in Toronto. John was listed as the retail manager for Wood, Vallance & Legatt in 1908, and in December Mrs. Macfarlane was visiting her daughter, and returning to Toronto with her to spend the remainder of the winter there. That was presumably related to the birth of Helen and John’s son, William who was born in October.

In April 1910 there was an announcement of the birth of another son (John) at their home at 1285 Harwood Street. In August Mrs Roaf was planning a trip to the east with here mother-in-law, and then spending winter in California. “Mr. and Mrs. Gordon Fleck moved Into the residence of Mr. J H Roaf on Harwood street” in September. In 1911 Mr. Roaf was back in the city when he required ‘a very serious operation’ in St Paul’s hospital. That year he owned a Packard automobile, that had a new garage at his home. In 1912 a daughter, Marjorie, was born, and that year J H Roaf was listed as a wholesale agent.

John Hamilton Roaf was born in Toronto on the last day of 1877. During World War One he was an officer based in BC; in 1916 he was promoted from Lieutenant in February, to Captain when he hired Wiles and Fisher to carry out repairs to an apartment building at 500 Hornby, to Major by June, when he was in Nanaimo recruiting a tunnelling company of sappers to head overseas. He was still looking after affairs in Vancouver, adding a new shopfront to a building he owned on Granville Street.

In 1922 he was director, and by 1929 managing director of the Clayburn Co, manufacturers of bricks and sewer pipes from a clay deposit at Sumas Mountain. He carried out expensive remodelling of his Richards Street block in 1922, and owned this building by 1923, and still held it three years later when, at short notice, the contents of the 44-room building were auctioned off. In 1927 he had a magnificent new $25,000 house built on Marine Drive in Point Grey, designed by McCarter & Nairn. In 1930 ‘Major J H Roaf’ was selected as Chairman of the newly formed Vancouver Olympic Association. He died in 1946, aged 68, and his wife in 1971, aged 86.

In 1985 the City inspectors required the SRO hotel to be repaired or closed, and the owner, Morris Hazen, evicted the 30 residents with no notice. The operator of the Rooms and holder of the business licence, Andrew Gabor, said the repairs were the owner’s responsibility. The owner said the lease shifted the resposibility to the operator, but the City said it was the owner’s responsibility, and he had avoided carrying out repairs for four years. The owner may have done himself few favours when The Sun reported that he ‘angrily accused (Councillor Bruce) Eriksen of being autocratic and called city staff  “lunatics” and “jackasses.” Hazen said he is not the owner of the building, but executor of his mother’s estate, which owns the building.’

The building never reopened. Instead, in 1986, Joshua Chan of Zion Investment Group submitted an application for a five-storey office and food fair, designed by Burton-Brown Architects. Completed in 1989, it’s still there today, but with an adjacent parkade seems a likely site for a future redevelopment.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1095-01025


Posted 4 May 2023 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Tagged with

1181 Seymour Street

A J Woodward developed this Gospel Hall in 1909, although he didn’t even live in Vancouver. J S D Taylor was the architect for the $7,500 building, constructed by McLean & Fulton. Mr. Woodward owned the Vancouver Floral Company on Granville Street, and he also built The Beaconsfied apartments on Bute in the same year, using the same architect and builder. We’re not sure how much involvement Mr. Woodward had with the Gospel Hall here, although he had early involvement in the Victoria Gospel Hall, there’s no reference we can find in the contemporary press. The development was apparently initiated by Mr Muncie of the Victoria Gospel Hall, but his involvement is also poorly recorded.

The Hall held Lord’s Day services, and was the venue for visiting preachers and lecturers from across North America for over 30 years. In 1947 the organisation moved to a new 16th & MacDonald Gospel Hall, and the old building was used as a warehouse. It was for sale or lease in 1954, offered by S G Freeze Realty, and became the ‘temporary showroom’ for Nyles N Galer’s Studebaker dealership. They stayed for two years, replaced by Vanguard-Triumph Sales in 1956, run by Bob Bowman.

In 1960 the building was again for sale, this time with Pemberton Realty. A year later it became the rented home of the Arts Club, with 150 seats (all of them stacking chairs). In 1979 The Arts Theatre Club moved to a new theatre on Granville Island, but continued to offer performances here until May 1991 when the theatre closed with a ‘Best of 27 Years’ review.

The site was vacant for a while, and then redeveloped as Brava, a two tower development designed by Hewitt & Kwasnicky for Amacon and Onni. Completed in 2005, it includes the Vancouver Independent Film Centre which adopted the same address as the Arts Club Theatre.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1095-01075


Posted 3 April 2023 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Tagged with ,

540 Howe Street

This modest 3-storey building had been given a permit in 1927 for $37,500 for Branson, Brown & Co who hired R T Perry to design it. The company opened an office in the Rogers Building on Granville Street in 1928, and commenced work on the building in early 1929, when the cost were reported to have escalated to about $40,000.

The company was created when R P Clark and Co, Victoria stockbrokers, were taken over in 1927. Charles E Brown was one partner, and C L H Branson the other. When they opened here they also had a real estate arm, Branson, Brown & Merrick, with F J Merrick of Vancouver.

In 1930 the market was in turmoil, and Branson, Brown found themselves in court as unhappy clients started realising how much their investments had lost. By January 1931, the company, (shown being run by then as Stewart G. Clark and William George Lythgoe) was bankrupt. In 1932 there were court proceedings for ‘unlawful conversion’, and a further $7,500 was distributed by the trustee. While the stock market was in freefall, the company were accused of selling stocks (at a loss) without getting their owner’s permission. The partners were no doubt doing their best in extraordinary times to try to get their clients some of their investments, but the clients didn’t all see it that way.

The real estate business was still in operation until 1933, but as Merrick’s Ltd. Various other financial businesses moved in, with McDermid, Miller & McDermid Ltd (stocks and
bonds) in 1935, and stayed for three years before moving to The Yorkshire Building.

A year earlier C E Brown was back in business, trading bonds at Bird & Talling. He no doubt had a nasty surprise when the Royal Bank tried to sue the him for $51,000 in 1935, related to his company’s earlier bankrupcy. Mr Branson was well away from the writ, living in Mexico City where he was ‘managing his oil wells’. We’re not sure if the case ever came to trial.

In 1939 Ross Lort, the architect, moved into an office here, and designed the new Maxine’s School of Beauty in the West End here, before moving again, this time to Burrard Street. A year later Marwell Construction had their offices here, and the Provincial Game Office moved in as well, with the Board of Health. New gun registration requirements in 1940 saw a rush to the Game Commission office. The office was here until 1946, when the building was acquired, and altered, by the Vancouver Stock Exchange (who were previously tenants in The Stock Exchange Building on Pender). In 1948 it was valued at $76,500, including $20,000 for the land. The Stock Exchange moved again next door in 1964, acquiring the Canada Trust building.

Prosper Oils and Mines Ltd was here from 1965, after the building was bought by by East-West Holdings and Selective Personnel had offices here in 1969, when it was also the new home of Community Unit Fund, a locally managed Mutual Fund.

In our 1974 image two floors were available to lease, and the main floor was being turned into a retail space that was then occupied by Lou Myles, menswear, until the mid 80’s. In 1984 BCIT’s computing class was held here upstairs, in their Outreach Centre.

In 1986 the building featured in a bizarre incident reported in the Sun. “Vancouver store owner Yaro Priborsky said today he tried to shoot the lock off a door above his store to stop water from a leaky pipe that was threatening his $100,000 worth of stock. But all he got from three bullets from a pistol was a splinter of wood in his hand. The lock held and he had to spend the next four hours catching the flood of water in buckets and moving his stock out of harm’s way.

Said Priborsky, owner of Margetson Ltd., 540 Howe: “I thought the shooting might work. It didn’t. After that I was going like crazy collecting the water in buckets.” The incident started at 5 a.m. Wednesday when the sound of running water awakened Priborsky. He said he had worked late the previous night and decided to sleep in the store. “The pipe had burst on the third floor, perhaps because of the cold weather, and I couldn’t get at it. If I had had an axe, I would have used it on the door, but all I had was the gun,” he said. He said the upstairs property is separate from his store. Priborsky said that, during his four hours with the buckets, he managed to get hold of building officials who sent a plumber to shut off the water. He denied earlier reports that a bullet ricocheted and hit his hand. “It was a splinter of wood; just a scratch” he said.”

The building didn’t last much longer. It was redeveloped as part of the northern part of Pacific Centre Mall which was completed in 1990.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1095-01014


Posted 30 March 2023 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Tagged with ,

631 Seymour Street

This image taken in 1974 is labelled 621 Seymour, but The Clubhouse Restaurant & Coffee Shop was 631. Upstairs was a rooming house, adressed as 621 and called The Bay Hotel.

The building opened in 1912 as The Roslyn Rooms, designed, built and owned by builders Purdy & Lonergan, who obtained the permit for the $33,000 investment in 1910. This appears to be their only substantial investment, (assuming it really was built for their ownership). The location, and the presence of hot and cold water in every room were the main selling points.

Purdy & Lonergan had been builders in the city for many years. William K Lonergan married in 1902 to Kate Ashe ‘from the east’ (actually Halifax, NS), and lived in a house on West Georgia. He was born in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia in 1870.  A year later Charles Purdy married Elizabeth Boyd in Revelstoke, although his bride was from Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Charles was also from Yarmouth, where he was born in 1868. William Lonergan was only aged 60 when he died in 1930, and Charles Purdy was 77 when he died in 1946. We think they both arrived in 1902, joining Charles Lonergan, William’s brother, who was already in the city, working for the Hudson’s Bay Company.

The rooms didn’t really get mentioned until 1917, when the Sun reported “Mrs. E. S. Gardiner, residing at the Rosslyn rooms, 631 Seymour street, has asked police assisiance to trace her husband. While coming to the city about three weeks ago, Mrs. Gardiner stopped off on the road to visit friends, and while with them received a letter from her husband telling her he was going north about 40 miles, but that he would return here in a few days. Since then she has not heard anything of him. Gardiner is aged 45, 5 ft. 10 in., 145 lbs., clean shaven, of medium complexion, with grey hair. When last heard of he was wearing brown corduroy pants, blue serge vest and blue woolen sweater.” Strangely, there appear to have been no follow-up story.

In 1931 the valuation of the rooms, and the St Regis Hotel to the north were challenged by the Hudson’s Bay Company, who owned the properties (presumably with the idea of further expansion of their store). The Roslyn Rooms were operating upstairs, run by C C Cook, and the store on the main floor (numbered as 633 Seymour) was Share Bros, a paint store.

In 1946 The Sun carried a story about the Rooms: Fight Ends In Arrest

A charge of damage to property as the result of a fight in a downtown rooming house was laid against Mike Burns, 21, no fixed address, late Saturday. Arrest or Burns followed a report to police by Mike Kohoot, 621 Seymour, who declared that early Saturday he heard someone in the hallway of the rooming house and went to investigate. He said he found two men In the hallway and during the ensuing struggle Burns plunged through a plate glass window in the front door. According to police, Burns sustained several cuts on his hands and face and was treated at St. Paul’s Hospital before he was taken to the city jail.

In 1948 the numbering had altered so that the Roslyn Rooms were 621, run by J Klimchuk, and the store was Pratt’s Beauty Supplies and their cosmetics laboratory. They had renovated the store, and added a moderne storefront, although rather misleadingly the Sun reported that “A handsome modern building with four floors has just been opened at 631 Seymour Street by Pratt’s Beauty Supply Co. Ltd., moving from a few doors up the street.” Mrs H V Pratt ran the business, and the remains of her storefront can be seen under the Clubhouse Restaurant sign.

A restaurant had opened by 1964, and were constantly advertising for waitresses and kitchen help. Chris Levas ran it, (as well as the Argo Coffee Shop and Zenith Cafe). The Club House had Zambra, a reader, available in 1971. She replaced Madame Golar ‘from the East’ who was here in 1969. In 1970 there was a fire on the fourth floor of what had now become the Bay Hotel. In 1977 the restaurant was still offering psychic readings with Mrs Veesk (cards, teacups and wax).

By the mid 1990s the rooms had closed, and the building was boarded up. In September 1997 Harold Munro wrote an extensive story in the Vancouver Sun that started “Ryan Beattie followed the amber glow down the darkened hallway of the vacant building to find his friend Newfie asleep on a mattress that was in flames. He was wrapped in a sheet and that was on fire, too,” said Beattie, 19, who was among 15 young squatters living in the five-storey building in the 600-block Seymour when the fire started at 7:30 a.m. Sunday. Beattie helped Newfie to his feet. Flames raced down Newfie’s jeans, melting the rubber toe of his sneaker. Fire singed his goatee, but he got out with only a small burn on his right palm. No one else was injured in the fire. They tried to hurl the burning mattress out the third-floor window, but only succeeded in spreading the fire the wall.” The shell of the building was demolished later that day.

Two years after the fire, the owners of the adjacent Gotham Restaurant added a 40 seat patio garden, which is still there today.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1095-01043


Posted 27 March 2023 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Tagged with

951 Seymour Street (2)

We saw the early history of this building, and the story of the funds that built it in a previous post. General Distributors (who mostly wholesaled radios) were here from 1929, two years after it was built. They became Western Agencies, and by 1942 they were wholesalers of Gilson furnaces, that could burn coal for the duration of the war, but then be switched to oil once hostilities had ceased.

Having survived the war, they were appointed distributors of Stromberg-Carlson radios in 1945. In 1950 Appliance and Heating had also moved into the building, distributors of Gilson heating and refrigeration, including the Gilson Volcano furnace, but they moved to Homer St, and Western Agencies remained here, adding Marconi Radios to their wholesale lines in 1952.

In 1956 the building was being offered for lease, but Western Agencies were still here in 1962, wholesaling Sharp radios. We’re not sure when they eventually left, but by 1974, when this picture was taken, and through the 1980s this was the body shop of Dominion Motors, who operated the 3-floor car dealership at the northern end of the block.

The Spot was completed here in 1998, (before this became known as Yaletown – it was advertised as ‘steps to Yaletown’). Designed by Kasian Kennedy, it’s a condo building with a mix of 196 double-height lofts and studio apartments in an unusual semi-circular building. Initial pre-sales in February 1997 offered the lofts from $88,000, although by October all that was left were studios from $84,900, and lofts from $127,900, (although there was $5,000 off, a discounted mortgage and discounted legal fees to entice purchasers). The last 14 were still for sale in June 1998, from $143,500.

Today 646 sq. ft. 1-bed lofts sell for between $700,000 and $800,000

There have always been investor owners offering rentals, and one is available to rent at $3,850. In 2010 they were available at $1,400, and in 2000, soon after completion, at $980 (although the penthouse was $1,350),

Image source, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1095-01047


Posted 23 March 2023 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Tagged with ,