Archive for the ‘Gone’ Category

De Beck Block – 366 West Hastings

 

This prominent corner of Hastings and Homer has a surprisingly modest building today, but earlier there were two more flamboyant buildings. On the right was the O’Brien Hall, where Professor William O’Brien taught dance (as we saw in the previous post). The one on the left was designed by W T Dalton for George Ward DeBeck. It was completed in 1898, when Mr. DeBeck was a partner in Mackinnon, Beck & Co, (real estate agents) and lived on Hornby Street.

He was born at Woodstock, New Brunswick in 1849, and after leaving school travelled to California, where he worked in sawmills. He later joined his family, who had moved to British Columbia. His father had moved to New Westminster in 1868, working as a logger, but died in a logging accident two years later. There were three other DeBeck brothers, and they collectively built the Brunette Saw Mills in Sapperton in 1874. In 1877 George was in New Westminster, working at the Brunette Sawmill Co where H L DeBeck was manager and Clarence DeBeck foreman. By 1881 the mill was cutting 50,000 feet of lumber a day, and employing 30 workers. Their lumber at the time came from a camp on Pitt Lake. George DeBeck had already tired of the lumber business – in 1880 he was running a hotel in Yale. In the census a year later his wife and two children also lived in Yale, but not at the hotel.

While a 1914 biography suggested Mr. DeBeck married in 1887, a later newspaper article clarified that it was in 1877, when his wife-to-be was only aged 16, and still attending a convent in New Westminster. Some references suggest she was the first white child born in New Westminster. Having hired a cab, and a tugboat, Mr. DeBeck spirited his wife-to-be away from her school Sunday morning walk, and hurried to Port Townsend in Washington where they married. To ensure there was no chase, it was reported that Mr. DeBeck arranged for the telegraph lines to be cut.

After the hotel in Yale the family moved south, with George working in the timber trade, initially in Washington. In 1883 the family were in The Dalles, Oregon, where Edward (“Ned”) Keary DeBeck was born. Two years later Leonora Alsea Debeck was born in Yaquinna, Oregon. The family moved on to Idaho, then in 1886 returned to Canada, and to Vancouver in 1891, where G W DeBeck was listed as a timber speculator. In 1895, a son, Ward was born. and two years later Viola, who would become one of the earliest women law students in British Columbia. At this point George had moved on again, and instead of lumber now held interests in mining. At this point he was listed as ‘broker’ – as he was involved in real estate as well as mining. He developed the West Hastings building which soon included tenants as varied as Vogel’s Commercial College, the French Consulate, and the local office of Imperial Oil.

George’s next adventure was a government appointment, as Indian Agent in Alert Bay on Cormorant Island, off Vancouver Island. He held the job for four years, then returned to Vancouver, and the timber cruising and logging business. At the end of 1939 George and Emma moved to Victoria, British Columbia to live with their son, Ned, but Emma died that year, on December 31. George returned to Vancouver, where he died in 1943. You can read far more about George, and his family, on WestEnd Vancouver.

When he died, his building (seen here in 1940 with the Pall Mall Café) had been demolished, replaced with the less ornate building seen today. There was a Bank of Montreal branch on the corner from 1928 and the replacement was built in two phases, with the bank occupying the eastern half (where the DeBeck Building had been) before moving into the western corner once the entire building was completed. We weren’t certain who designed the 1940 building, but the style is reminiscent of the buildings designed by Townley and Matheson for the Vancouver General Hospital around this time and in 1940 they designed a business block for Dr. Worthington at Homer and Hastings. Patrick Gunn dug out the 1940 permit, and it was indeed those architects for Doctor Worthington, who owned the Vancouver Drug Company. Today it’s part of the campus of the Vancouver Film School, suffering somewhat by the addition of an extremely brutal tubular canopy.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu N135

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Posted June 13, 2019 by ChangingCity in Gone, Victory Square

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O’Brien Hall – West Hastings and Homer

The tenants of this building, William and Gertrude O’Brien, were so identified with it that it was named for them in the photo captions in the Library and Archives collections. Actually it pre-dated their involvement, and started life called the ‘British Columbia Land and Investment Agency Building’. Built in 1892, it was designed by Fripp and Wills. In the early years it was home to the Moodyville Land and Sawmill Co. Up to 1898 the building was also called the “Metropolitan Club Block” and sometimes the “Metropolitan Block”.

This early image was shot in 1898 (when the sidewalk was still wooden). The developer, The B.C. Land and Investment Agency were a London-based Real Estate and Insurance Agency which at one time were said to own or control half the real estate in Victoria.

The O’Brien’s were from Ontario; William from Nobleton and Gertrude from Barrie. They married in 1892, and moved west two years later. When he married, William was a musician, but on arrival in Vancouver he styled himself a “Professor of Dancing,” opening a dancing academy on an upper floor of this building. In 1894 the Daily World reported an ‘At Home’, where 40 couples danced until midnight, when luncheon was served, and then danced on again ’till morn’. Gertrude also taught dancing. In 1894 it was reported “Mrs. W.E. O’Brien, teacher of society dancing, is about to commence her children’s class, during which all the popular society dances will be taught, as well as some very artistic dances suitable for children’s exhibitions. For terms apply at academy, corner of Homer and Hastings streets.”

The O’Brien’s had four daughters – two sets of twins. In the 1920s they lived on Denman Street, and the 1921 census showed Gertrude no longer taught dance, and William was listed as proprietor of the hall for his occupation, although he was still listed in the street directory as ‘dancing master’. There’s more detail about the family on WestEnd Vancouver.

The hall was used for a variety of purposes: the first suffrage convention in the city was held here in 1911. The Pacific Lodge of the Oddfellows first met here in 1894, before moving to another hall nearby on Hamilton Street. In 1907 the first meeting of the Vancouver Automobile Club was held. The first official club rally was held on Labour Day, 1907 with a run around Stanley Park, where eleven cars started but only five cars made it all the way around. That same year the Canada Lumberman and Woodworker reported, rather mysteriously a “HOO-HOO IN BRITISH COLUMBIA. A Rousing Concatenation Held at Vancouver Last Month. On Friday, August the ninth, the mystic Black Cat again held court on the roof, in Vancouver, when the timorous purring of thirty-two unregenerated kittens was mingled with the yowls and caterwauls of nearly a hundred old cats. The session took place in O’Brien’s Hall, Hastings street. Snark J. D. Moody was again in evidence as leader

From 1928 the corner tenant of the main floor of the building was the Bank of Montreal. By 1930 the O’Brien’s were no longer shown in the street directory, and Wrigley’s Directory were the lessees of the O’Brien Hall. William and Gertrude were living in Vancouver again in 1939, in retirement, and Gertrude died in Vancouver in, 1951, and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery. William died in 1957, and was buried with her.

In 1940 a new branch of the Bank of Montreal had been built here, with the Bank occupying the eastern half of the partly-completed new building on a temporary basis, while the western (corner) unit was completed, and they were able to occupy their long term location. We didn’t know for certain who designed the 1940 building, but the style is similar to the buildings designed by Townley and Matheson for the Vancouver General Hospital around this time. In 1940 Townley and Matheson designed a business block for Dr. Worthington at Homer and Hastings, and as the other three corner buildings are all earlier than 1940, and still standing today, it seemed pretty clear that this is their work, and the building Permit from 1940 confirms that the $60,000 building was their work. Dr George Worthington was president of the Vancouver Drug Co, and in 1937 chaired the annual of the Vancouver Tourist Association dinner. Today the building is part of the Vancouver Film School.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-2041

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Hastings Street east from Granville

Here are two almost identical images of the same view, from 1888 (above) and 1896 (below). Over those few years the initial wooden plank road was replaced with a more robust surface, and a number of additional buildings had started to fill the gaps along Hastings. The building with the turret on the south-east corner of the street is called ‘Customs House’ on the 1889 Insurance map, although it also noted a grocer occupying the corner store. Next door was the Leland Hotel, with exterior balconies, and across the street was the hotel’s annex, built in 1887, probably by Ben Springer, with hotel rooms on the second and third floors. The Leland Hotel was owned by Simon Hirschberg. His arrival, with his wife, from Winnipeg was noted in the press in July 1886 as they were the first passengers off the first train to arrive at Port Moody in 1886. That was the initial ‘end of the line’, and Mrs Elmira Hirschberg, (who was the widowed Mrs Custer when she married Simon) was presented with a bouquet to mark the event. In Winnipeg they had run The Merchants Hotel and The Tecumseh Hotel, and in Vancouver they built the substantial wooden frame Leland. Elmira was from Maryland, and Simon was probably a German-born Jew. The hotel was one of the first with gas lighting, as James England, secretary of the Gas Company recalled to Major Matthews “My recollection of the first gas service is that the Leland Hotel, a large four-storey frame building on Hastings Street, was the first building lighted by gas in Vancouver. I know it was common talk among the employees that this was so. It may have been on the 24th of May, 1887; it certainly was before my time as I did not come here until July 1887. I have a distinct recollection that the Leland Hotel account was No. 11 on the register of customers, but it does not follow that it was the eleventh customer that lit up; there was some holiday or special reason for getting the Leland Hotel going, and it was common talk among the men of the special efforts put forward to get the gas sent up to that hotel.” Business, and family life were both strained, and seven months after arriving, the Times Colonist told the story of Simon’s demise.

“S . Hirschberg, the proprietor of the Leland house, Vancouver, roused his employees early yesterday morning, and then taking a stretcher went to the attic of the house. He was shortly after missed, and his wife hearing someone groaning, went up to the attic where she found her husband in a state of semiconsciousness. By his side was a vial labeled laudanum, showing that the unfortunate man had taken the poison. Medical help was at once summoned and every means used to restore him to life, but without avail and he died at noon.

He had taken enough laudanum to kill half a dozen people, and the causes which led him to end his life were business and domestic troubles. Several days previous he had expressed his intention to hang himself but his friends never anticipated that he would take his life. Hirschberg was well known in Winnipeg where he was a hotelkeeper. He came to Vancouver last July and built the Leland house.”

Other reports can be found suggesting that the 300 pound man hung himself, shot himself or slit his throat – but there’s no reason to question the accuracy of the contemporary news report. Similarly, a 1940s news story suggested his body never made it to the new cemetery at Mountain View, and was buried under the street at Fraser and 33rd, but his interment location is known in the earliest part of the cemetery. He was probably the first adult to be buried there.

Simon’s widow continued to run the business for a while, before selling up and eventually remarrying again in Seattle. F W Hart remembered her as “the first white lady to come across the Canadian Rockies and it was to her that I presented the bouquet of flowers by the order of Mayor MacLean. She came on the first C.P.R. train from the east.” George Upham also remembered her, and thought that the family took over the hotel, rather than developing it. He also noted about Mrs. Hirschberg; “Make any man commit suicide to have a wife like that; a hard old bat; she was hard,”

Next door to the east of the hotel, the Delbruck Block was developed in 1889 and completed early in 1890. This was Delbruck Block No. 2 – another had been developed a year earlier on Cordova. Both had the same architect, the ever-busy N S Hoffar. George Delbruck was French, and only 34 years old in 1891. For an investor in two buildings, he has almost no published record. He never appears in a street directory, despite having been listed in the census (when he was lodging). We think he was from Nice, and also a composer, like his younger brother Alfred, who was also in Vancouver briefly in the same period, and also a musician. In 1890 he was shows as ‘A Delbuck, capitalist’, lodging at the Hotel Vancouver.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives Str P127 and CVA 1477-641

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Posted May 30, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1915 and 1925 Pendrell Street

These two houses were replaced by Gilmore Court in 1981 – a condo building with a decorative eastern front, and a distinctly plainer western end. When this image was photographed in 1968, an earlier rental building with the same name took up the lot to the east. The houses, and the apartment building were demolished to make way for the larger 44 unit condo.

By 1910 there were three houses on the lot; (the two in the picture and one that was built on the lane). The first to be built was 1923 Pendrell, the house on the left, (numbered as 1925 when this photo was taken). We know it was the first, because it was the only house standing shown on the 1903 version of the insurance map. Development in this part of the West End wasn’t fast – there was only one other house on the entire city block that year. A second home was also given a permit in 1903, but the first was issued to ‘O Mitchell’ – who owned, designed and built it. It cost $1,400, while the second, owned and built by Robert Kerr only cost $200. On that basis we think Mr. Kerr’s home was the second, laneway house, while the Mitchell house was the first. Although nobody called Mitchell had the initial ‘O’ in the city in 1903, the street directory shows carpenter Robert Kerr lived at 619 Hamilton Street, and so did another carpenter, Andrew Mitchell. That’s why we surmise he was a friend of Mr. Kerr, and built the house on the left of the picture, in spring 1903. Robert Kerr built the second house on the back of the lot, later that year. In 1907 a second house appeared on the street, 1915 Pendrell, and as it’s was in the ‘lost permit’ period, we don’t know who built it, although Mr. Mitchell was still in the city, and still building houses (but so was Robert Kerr, although he had moved to Point Grey).

Andrew Mitchell was aged 35 in 1903, and like his wife Mary was from Ontario. They had two children, and Andrew was listed as a builder in the city in the 1911 census. His brother James, a plasterer, and sister-in-law lived with the family on West 10th Avenue, on the corner with Birch. Robert Kerr also came from Ontario, so he may have known Andrew Mitchell before they came to Vancouver.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1348-15

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Posted May 23, 2019 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Gilford Court – 1125 Gilford Street

These two buildings look quite similar, but one is an early rental building, and the other a more recent condo. Cyril Tweedale was the developer: an investment broker and realtor who hired architects Sharp & Thompson to design the $33,000 investment property. It was completed in 1912, and it was the first structure built on the site as this end of the West End took some years to build out. It was developed by the London and Western Canada Investment Co, where Cyril Tweedale was managing director. We looked at Cyril’s history in connection with the Tweedale Block he built on East Hastings. The Investment Company were involved in both finance and insurance, specializing in handling transactions for English investors. Rents were advertised from $37.50 for a 5-room suite.

The building was demolished in 1981, (in the days when rental properties weren’t protected) and in 1984 a new Gilford Court appeared. This is a 44 unit condo building. In 1984 they cost from $72,900 – although financing that year cost over 10%. Today 2-bed units sell at over $900,000.

Image source: Jan Gates, on flickr.

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Posted May 20, 2019 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Richards Street – 700 block, east side (2)

We looked at the buildings to the north of here in the previous post. Here are several modest buildings, of which two (for now) are still standing. On the left is a three storey commercial building, 726 Richards, built in 1923 by B C Stevens Co. They were a medical supply company who had operated in the city for many years. Before they developed this building they were based in the main floor of the Passlin block, three doors down the street. The company opened its first office in Western Canada in 1889 in Vancouver under the direction of George Stevens, a son of the founder of the business. The Contract Record of 1 August 1923 referenced that “Work is to start at once on a store and warehouse, to cost $20,000, at 730-748 Richards St.; owners, B. C. Stevens Co Ltd., Vancouver; architect, Franklin Cross, 448 Seymour St., Vancouver”. The address was a bit inaccurate; the building permit identifies 730 Richards. It’s possible that the single storey 738 Richards was part of the same development – the two structures share a single lot. Next door at 742 Richards was another single storey commercial building. In 1920 owner A L Hood hired A E Henderson to carry out alterations to the property there costing $2,500, but we don’t know if the single storey building is the result of that investment, or a later development.

The four storey building on the right of the picture (748 Richards) was developed by Albert J Passage and Oliver Tomlin (hence Passlin). Albert was President of the Western Canada Trust Company, worth over $300,000 before its collapse in 1913. He was an American, born in Clairmont, Minnesota, and he moved to Canada in 1892. In 1901 was in Yale, working as a clerk in the railroad office. In 1909 he was in Vancouver, working as an accountant for the Great Northern Transfer Co. His success in real estate was fast; he only formed the Financial and Real estate brokerage with Oliver Tomlin around 1910. By 1911 he was living with his wife Mary, from New Brunswick, their 3-year-old son, Victor, her father, Goodwin Passage, and her brother, Ray Passage.

With the collapse of the real estate business, and a war hitting the national economy, Albert, Mary and their son emigrated to the USA in 1916. By 1930 they were living in Mount Vernon, Westchester, New York, and had another son, Douglas, aged 8, who had been born in New York.

We’re reasonably certain Oliver Tomlin was from England, although he appears to have been missed in the 1911 Census. He shows up in Vancouver around 1908, when he was a shipper with the Albion Iron Works. A year later Passage and Tomlin were in the real estate business, with a series of permits for houses, and just one in 1910 for a larger building, this four storey apartment building on Richards, costing $35,000 and designed by W M Dodd. They sold their development to a real estate syndicate they had put together, with significant British money involved (shown by this article in the London Daily Standard from 1911). The headline shows that property bubbles are not new in the city.

By 1911 Oliver Tomlin was living in the Atlin Block on West Pender. The building in our image was known as the Passlin Hotel. (Given the conjunction of the names for this building, it seems a reasonable conjecture that Mr. Tomlin might have also developed the Atlin Block with a different partner). In 1917 Oliver Tomlin, and his English wife Louisa also emigrated to The USA, and in 1930 were living in Los Angeles. We’re reasonably confident this is the same Mr. Tomlin who was working as the Manager of a Real Estate Finance Company (and that’s why we think he was originally English)’

The Passlin block was demolished and redeveloped in 2007 as part of the L’Hermitage development which also has a hotel, two-storey retail and a condo tower. The Passlin, which was operating as an SRO hotel, was redeveloped as Doug Story Apartment residences, with 46 units managed by Coast Mental Health, named after an SRO resident who was a member of the Coast Resource Centre from 2001 until his death in 2006. The City of Vancouver made a small grant (of $720,000) to help fund the building, but most of the capital cost was carried by the developers, who received additional residential density for the tower. They then gave the building to the City of Vancouver as an air right parcel.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E09.36

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Richards Street – 700 block, east side (1)

Here’s a view south from West Georgia of the east side of Richards. Today it’s one of the more obvious candidates for a commercial tower, with a temporary surface parking lot on most of the site. In 1981 it still had buildings, and the user of the corner was the same then as up to last year. Budget car rental was operating in a 1948 art deco building originally designed as a car showroom for Colliers Motors.

Collier’s were a Chevrolet-Oldsmobile dealership, and Watson and Baxter were the architects; (Joseph F Watson and James Baxter). The building was one of the most flamboyantly designed streamline moderne buildings the city had seen, as this 1949 VPL image shows.

Collier’s Motors closed down in the late 1950s, and by 1981 when our phote was taken Budget car rental had taken over the lot, and the building became their office. Budget later moved across the lane, and the Colliers building became a Fido cellphone store, before it was demolished in 2007. The demolition permit was issued while the City’s workforce were on strike, and so a potential heritage designation was never considered. Ironically, that ensured that only commercial uses can be considered for the site in future, as heritage or existent non-market housing buildings are the only justifications for allowing residential development in this part of the CBD.

Next door to the 1948 building, down Richards, was the Burrard Hotel, at 712 Richards. It was designed by Dalton and Eveleigh for E E Hewson (who was an absentee owner, working as a lawyer in Nova Scotia) which opened in 1910 as the St Regis Hotel. Beyond that was a smaller hotel at 722 Richards. It was developed in 1923 by John Murchie, a tea merchant who ran his business here, while his family lived upstairs. In 1964 it became home to the William Tell restaurant, run by Swiss-born Erwin Doebeli. The restaurant moved to Beatty Street in 1983, and the site has been cleared for many years, although surrounded by new office towers it probably won’t stay that way for too long.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA Str P23

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