Archive for the ‘Gone’ Category

Seymour Street – 1000 block, west side (1)

This image is, according to the City of Vancouver Archives, from around 1926. We place it a few years later, towards the end of 1929 or early in 1930. That’s because there’s a building seen in the picture that’s still standing today. Up to 1928 there were houses pretty much the entire block face, but in 1929 1035 Seymour was vacant, and in 1930 it was home to Bearing Supply House Ltd – seen on the left of the picture. The company’s Vancouver operation had previously been located in the heart of the business district on the 600 block of Howe Street.

Next door, to the north, are two houses, both dating back to the early 1900s. They’re both standing today, although incorporated into the complex that today is the Penthouse Club. The building to the north of that dates from 1912, although it too had a house as a basis. That year H W Forsyth & Co spent $700 to build “Dwelling/house; one-storey frame warehouse”.  The odd thing is that no such business shows up in the street directory around that period, (or any other records) and the occupant in 1913 was a contractor, Harold Burdett.

Aaron Chapman has chronicled the changing fortunes of the property for the past 77 years. “The Filippone family bought the land the Penthouse sits on in 1941, and began building the building that still exists there today. What originally housed the operations for their trucking and taxi business also found space for their Eagle Time Athletic Club, turning the building into somewhat of a community centre for over 500 local kids, with the Filippones sponsoring boxing, soccer teams, and baseball. The club already had its own boxing star with Jimmy Filippone a two time B.C. Golden Gloves champion. After the Second World War, in 1947 the Filippones began to expand the building and the business into what would eventually become the nightclub.”

So far this block has seen little development, but there are two underutilized sites (including the 1929 building) likely to see development soon. Here’s one of them – the parking lot beyond the club that has remained a vacant surface lot since before 1981. Whether the venerable Penthouse Club itself will ever disappear is less predictable. The Filippone family have apparently rejected countless lucrative offers for the site, and seem content to continue to operate one of the last outposts of a bygone era.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-2251 and CVA 779-E03.07A

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Posted June 18, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone, Still Standing

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555 Pacific Street

Crossing Granville Bridge in 1995, it was possible to look over and take this picture of the southern end of Yaletown, with Carlos n’ Bud’s Tex-Mex restaurant operation in a converted 1936 garage. This part of Pacific Street had originally been developed with houses around the turn of the twentieth century – there were four homes here built before 1901. By the 1930s the area was much more commercial, and the new car repair facility (addressed to Seymour Street) was shared by Len Cooper’s Signal Service, selling gas and oil, and Bentley’s Automotive Service Garage, run by William Bentley who lived in West Vancouver. There had been an Imperial Oil gas station across Seymour to the west in the 1920s, but by 1937 it had become the Atlas Tire Depot.

This location remained a garage; from the 1930s until at least the 1960s Hammond Ltd’s garage operated here, with an additional workshop on Pacific Street across the lane to the east. Thomas D Hammond was president, and by the mid 1930s lived in North Vancouver. Tom Hammond had started the Central Garage on Seymour in 1929, moving from the prairies having learned his mechanic skills during the first war. He took over this location a few years later, running both the gas station and the repair garage. In 1949 the station was selling Shell gas. On the next street across, Richards Street, there was a storage warehouse originally built around 1929 for Johnston Storage.

Residential uses gradually returned to this location as plans to increase the residential population Downtown slowly became reality from the early 1990s. Pacific Point, the two white towers, were completed in 1990 and 1992, designed by Eng & Wright. The workshop part of the Hammond Garage was developed by Onni and Amacon as the 501, a 32 storey condo tower, completed in 1999. More recently Onni also developed The Mark, replacing the Bud n’ Carlos property with a 41 storey tower that includes a childcare centre. Just completing on the warehouse site, Onni have developed another tower incorporating a childcare – this one 43 storeys called The Charleson, with a rental podium and condos in the tower. Alongside is another 45 storey tower, designed by Dialog (who also designed The Mark and The Charleson) in this case for Wall Financial, who have decided to rent the units rather than sell them.

Posted June 11, 2018 by ChangingCity in Gone, Yaletown

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13 – 23 West Pender Street

These buildings were constructed some time before 1900 (for the building on the right) and in the early 1900s (on the left). This image from the 1910s is pretty much all we have as a record of the early buildings on this part of Pender Street. Tracing them isn’t easy using the street directories, as the numbering here was very odd at the turn of the century. The building with the clear ’13’ was numbered as 47 on the 1901 Insurance Map; in the picture it was Bow On Tong’s store. The doorway in the middle that presumably led upstairs was number 15 in this image, a Chop Suey restaurant, and the store to the left was Kwong Wing’s barber shop. In the next building number 19 was the home of Canadian Scharlin Bros, wholesalers of ‘gloves, underwear, sox, shirts, caps, sweaters, braces and toilet requisites’. At 23 was Yucho Chow’s Photo Supply House.

The combination of businesses helps narrow down the date of the image. In 1919 that was the list of businesses here; (a year earlier there was a tailor occupying the vacant unit). The restaurant would have been Ton Wah Law. In 1922 the whole of Scharlin’s stock was sold off by the Army & Navy store, following their closure. They were presumably called Canadian Scharlin Bros to avoid confusion with a San Francisco business with the same name, although the two were probably connected. German born John Scharlin ran a San Francisco dry goods business with his eldest three sons, Nate, Jacob and Abe. When the Scharlin Brothers business first opened in 1914 in Vancouver, Nathaniel Scharlin was listed as managing director, living initially at the Grosvenor Hotel. In subsequent years he was listed as Nat.

It seems likely that he was the same Nathan Scharlin, of Scharlin Bros, San Francisco, who spent time in 1911 locked up in Hawaii for smuggling 110 tins of opium, for which he was convicted and paid a fine. At the time the brothers were described as running a store and import-export business, and Nathan visited Hawaii to supposedly import a line of men’s clothing. They were arrested again for a rum smuggling operation in 1923, and they received further press attention when Abe Scharlin was kidnapped by the Chicago mob in New York and held for $400,000 ransom in 1927. The police heard about the kidnapping, and kept negotiations going (with the ransom reduced to $20,000), while two of the kidnappers were identified. One was shot in Central Park by a motorcycle policeman, and the other arrested. Abe was released without the ransom being paid a short while later.

Yucho Chow was the most prominent Chinese photographer in the city. He came to Vancouver around 1908, worked as a houseboy, and then as an assistant to a photographer before striking out on his own. He photographed every aspect of Chinatown life, from new born babies, weddings, family groups through to the recently deceased, (to return to China with any money that might be left). His studio moved several times, and he photographed members of the Punjabi and Japanese communities, as well as Chinese Canadians. His equipment case is now in the Museum of Vancouver, and there’s currentl a Chinatown History Project panel next to the Chinese Cultural Centre on West Pender.

Kwong Wo Lung’s grocery had been in the city (at 13 W Pender) for many years; they were one of the businesses that received compensation after the 1908 anti-Asiatic riot. By 1919 they had moved a couple of blocks east, replaced by Bow On Tong Co, a tobacconist.

From the building permits for repairs, it looks as if the western building was owned by BC Electric. A building permit in 1912 show J W Vickers building a $6,000 alteration to the building, listed as owned by BC Electric. Two years later J G Price designed $800 of alterations to the eastern building for Lew, Chong & Company. Other permits were issued to Wong Leong and Long Wing, but it’s impossible to tell who was owner, and who was a tenant carrying out alterations, although it’s clear that these buildings were undoubtedly part of Chinatown. We’re not sure how long the western building lasted. By the 1950s BC Electric had their carpenter’s shop here, but we’ve been unable to trace any images of this block after this picture until the 1970s, when the site was cleared. It’s possible that the carpenter’s shop was in the old buildings.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 789-46

Posted June 4, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Pantages Theatre – East Hastings Street (2)

We looked at the story of Alexander Pantages, whose name graced Art Clemes East Hastings Street theatre from its opening in 1908 for about a decade in our previous post. The theatre was built in a hurry – the developer was fined $10 for covering up the foundations before they could be inspected by the city’s engineer. George Calvert managed the theatre when it opened in January 1908, seeing a range of vaudeville acts revolve through the stage door, playing several houses a night as the management sought to charge lower prices than rival theatres, but still extract a profit from the operation. They ranged from musical comedy to animal acts, (Madam Lucretia with her leopards and panthers), whistlers, acrobats, a quick change artist (Mlle Fregolia, the first popular woman to perform Quick Change with prepared costumes), blackface and boxers (Bob Fitzsimmons, the ‘Famous Freckled Fighter’ from Cornwall, the lightest heavyweight champion). Alexander Pantages checked the theatre out in November 1908.

In 1909 Miss Nada Moret of Australia offered charming high-class songs, with a ‘dainty’ operetta as the headlining act. That contrasted with Sullivan and Kilrain who fought America’s last-ever bare-knuckle prizefight in 1889, and continued to cash in on it twenty years later. In 1910 Hamad’s Arabs appeared – not horses, but acrobats: “Abou Hamad’s Arabs, nine in number, said to be the best troupe of sons of the desert, will be on the bill. It is one of the best of foreign acts.” The Daily World reported “Eddie Martin, playing at the Pantages this week, will be seen in a specialty song and dance act that is one of the best in the business. Mr. Martin has the reputation of being one of the finest clog and fancy dancers in vaudeville”. Earlier that year The Great Pauline had been the attraction, “the wonderful French scientist and physician, whose demonstrations of the superiority of mind over matter have been the talk not only of the vaudeville votaries of the States and Europe, but also of physicians and psychologists in every city that he has appeared in.” This description might not make it obvious that Pauline was a male hypnotist and mind reader – one of the highest paid performers in vaudeville. He was French only if you had been hypnotized to believe that Rochester, New York, was in France. In October “an abundance of laughter will prevail during the turn of Chas Allen and Jack Lee who have the reputation of being the funniest pair of Jew comedians ever sent over the Pantages circuit.”

A year later, in August the Three Marx Brothers appeared for the first time in Vancouver in “Fun in Hi Skool”. Groucho played as a Dutch-accented schoolmaster and alongside his brothers his Aunt Hannah was one of the pupils. That year there were two attempts to break into the theatre’s safe. The Marx family returned again to play a week’s residency in 1913 as The Four Marx Brothers, and didn’t return to Vancouver again until 1918, when they had transferred their allegiance to the rival Orpheum circuit. It continued to operate throughout the war, adding drama to the roster of performances, including Arizona Joe’s Cowpuncher’s performing ‘Pastimes of the Plains’.

Once the new larger Pantages theatre opened a couple of blocks west, the old theatre continued under new owners, although Pantages had to sue to prevent the old name continuing in use. It became the Theatre Royal in mid 1918, and the owner, Mr Royal, chose a pink and gold redesign which could still be seen when the theatre was closed in the 1990s. Touring dramatic performances continued to provide most of the bookings, initially provided by Jim Post and his Musical Comedy Company, who worked up and down the west coast. There were still hypnotists and mind readers, and the occasional visiting songstress, but business was clearly falling off, and by the early 1920s the theatre was sometimes dark, and sometimes was showing films. Kelly’s Comedians performed here, but they moved to another theatre near the new Pantages.

In the late 1920s the theatre was converted to a movie house. In 1933 it survived having a bomb being thrown into the building, destroying the projectionists booth, and a car parked outside on the street. The aftermath damage is shown in our 1933 VPL image. Surrounding businesses including the Balmoral Hotel and the Dawson Building had their windows blown out, and discovered their insurance didn’t cover bombings. It was supposedly carried out by a Russian-born Chicago mobster and extortionist known as ‘Willie The Pimp’ working for union interests trying to create a monopoly union. (Years later, in 1955, having ratted out his gangland partners and despite being given a new identity by the FBI, Willie Bioff was killed when his car exploded in his Phoenix driveway).

Later it became known as the State, the Queen, the Avon and City Nights. As the Avon, in 1953, it saw a police raid in the middle of a live theatre performance of ‘Tobacco Road’. Five members of the regular cast were taken to jail, charged with taking part in an indecent performance. The play was an adaptation of Erskine Caldwell’s book about life, love, and poverty in the American South. Despite having run on Broadway for 8 years and being turned into a film, the VPD viewed the performance as “lewd and filthy”. It turned out that the raid was prompted by complaints from the production team to generate the response, and hence free publicity. It paid off; the cast returned after 90 minutes to complete the performance, and the play sold out for the rest of the run.

It last operated as the Sung Sing, a Chinese-language theatre, which closed in 1994. Several attempts were made to resurrect the theatre by community based groups, but holes in the roof started to see significant damage to the decorations. An appeal to the City of Vancouver to purchase the theatre was rejected, and the property developer owner was allowed to demolish the structure and the single storey retail buildings to the west. He built a woodframe condo building that was supposed to offer low cost home ownership over revitalized retail with a courtyard. However, the courtyard is gated, and locked, and the ownership model does not ensure the relatively low initial costs of apartments are maintained in subsequent sales, so units have been flipped to new owners at higher prices. The one tangible benefit are 18 units on non-market rental. The new Downtown Eastside plan wouldn’t allow a condo building in the area in future.

Posted May 31, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Pantages Theatre – East Hastings Street (1)

 

The Pantages Theatre stood on East Hastings for over a century. It was built in 1907 and was the Vancouver base of Alexander Pantages and his Seattle managed vaudeville circuit, and was the oldest surviving Pantages Theatre in Western Canada, and until its demolition one of the earliest purpose built vaudeville houses remaining in North America. It’s seen here in a 1910 postcard in the Vancouver Public Library collection.

Alexander Pantages had only a loose affiliation with accuracy when it came to recording his history (not least because he was effectively illiterate, so kept few records, although he could speak six languages). He was possibly born on the island of Andros in Greece as Pericles Pantazis, probably in 1867, and he almost certainly ran away from home (in Cairo at the time) at the age of nine and travelled around the globe as a deck hand. He headed to north America (after a stint digging the first attempt at the Panama Canal) in the early 1880s. His 1910 census record said he arrived in the US in 1881; in 1920 he said 1883, and in 1930, 1885. (His year of birth shifted as well, from a probably inaccurate 1872 to an even less accurate 1874).

He settled initially in San Francisco where he worked as a utility boy in a vaudeville theatre, as a waiter and as an unsuccessful boxer. By 1896 he owned a restaurant and in December of that year he was arrested for smuggling 185 tins of opium. He was found not guilty after he established that at the night of the alleged crime he was training for a prize fight. An incidental detail in the case revealed that he had a surprisingly healthy bank balance for the owner of a small restaurant. Like many others he headed for the Yukon Territory during the Klondike Gold Rush in 1897 or early 1898, ending up in Dawson City. As other successful Klondike entrepreneurs, Pantages found there was more money to be made from the miners than from mining, especially if you’re only five feet six and would rather avoid digging in sub-zero temperatures. He worked as a waiter in Charlie Cole’s Saloon, which became a dance hall. He became business partner (and lover) of a Kansas native, and step-daughter of a Spokane judge, dancer and singer Kate Rockwell, (later to be known as “Klondike Kate”). Her specialty act, developed at Dawson City’s Palace Grande Theatre in 1900 involved wearing a red sequined dress spinning around in 200 feet of red chiffon cloth as if she was on fire. With Kate’s financial help he acquired and operated a small, but successful vaudeville and burlesque theatre, the Orpheum.

(There was another, and less flamboyant Yukon citizen known as Klondike Kate, with a Vancouver connection. Katherine Ryan was from New Brunswick, and in the late 1890s was set to marry her boyfriend, and when he decided instead to become a priest, Kate headed west and became a nurse in Vancouver. Tales of the goldrush led her to Whitehorse where she ran restaurant for many years. Eventually she ended up living in Vancouver again, where she died in 1932).

Unlike other female dance hall employees, as a named headliner on the vaudeville bill Kate Rockwell would not have been expected to ‘be available’ to patrons, but she would be expected to help relieve them of their money by drinking with them after the show. Champagne was $20 a bottle, and the girls were reimbursed for every cork they collected. Kate was successful as a dancer and entertainer – although not top of the bill – and she apparently saved money – although almost certainly nothing like the $150,000 that some sources suggest. She also didn’t stay the whole time in the Yukon; in 1899 she was part of a large vaudeville company that visited Victoria for a week and in 1900 she was on the bill as a dancer at the Savoy Theatre on Cordova Street. She briefly left for the States, and returned with an infant that she claimed was an orphan of a destitute mother. It’s possible that ‘Lotus Rockwell’ was the outcome of her affair with Alex.

In 1902, as the easiest gold had been found, Pangages headed south, and settled in Seattle. He rented a store on Second Street, fitted it out with hard benches, bought a movie projector and some film, hire a vaudeville act, and opened the Crystal Theatre. The funds he used included some of Kate Rockwell’s savings.

Kate was still touring; she was in Victoria at the Orpheum in 1903 ‘performing her beautiful electric serpentine dance’ and in Washington state in 1904, billed as a ‘spectacular dancer’, and had still been sending some of her earnings to Pantages. She was listed as the proprietress of the Orpheum in Victoria in 1903, having bought it for $350. Within a year she sold the theatre for $1,500 and returned to Alaska. Alex had been dictating regular love letters to Kate in which he expresses concern that she was drinking a lot, and in 1904 Kate returned to Seattle. She performed at the classier Alcazar Theatre, as Alex couldn’t afford to pay the salary she could command as a performer. She headed to Texas, which was going through an oil boom, and Alex bought yet another theatre, The Strand in the Skid Row area.

Kate understood that they would be getting married and settling down, so she wasn’t at all happy when A Pantager (sic) married Lois Mendenhall, a violinist from Oakland, in 1905. (Lois solemnly swore she was eighteen years or older – she showed her age as 25 in the 1910 census, but only 31 in 1920. She generally maintained her 1888 birthdate after that, suggesting she was actually only 17 when she was married.)

In 1905, while she was performing in Spokane, Kate heard from Alex that he was married, in a letter sent four days after the ceremony. In the summer she sued for breach of contract for $25,000. After effectively winning the suit, she settled out of court, and although some reports suggest she got $5,000, a contemporary newspaper report said she only got $800. She had to head back to Alaska and then out on the vaudeville circuit again, appearing in Vancouver with her Comedy troupe in 1907. She eventually settled in Oregon, was married at least three times, and became increasingly famous with the stories she told of her days in the Yukon – although the name ‘Klondike Kate’ appears not to have been used until 1929. She died in 1957.

Alex opened the first Pantages Theater in Seattle a few years after the Crystal, and in 1906 the even larger (1,200 seat) Lois Theatre. A year later the Vancouver theatre opened, designed by local architect E E Blackmore. Costing $100,000, it was bankrolled by local developer Art Clemes, who would go on to build the Regent Hotel next door to the theatre a few years later. Alexander supplied the acts, developing a circuit which saw his shows and acts constantly touring, always starting in Winnipeg. At the peak of his career in the 1920s, Pantages owned or controlled more than 70 vaudeville theaters, virtually all under his direct personal management. He and Lois had three children, and he moved to Los Angeles, living in a mansion. A second daughter was living with the family in 1920, Marjorie Nelson. A friend of the Pantages’ daughter Carmen, Marjorie was orphaned and adopted by the family. She later became Dixie Pantages, an actress who often doubled for her friend Carole Lombard in movies.

In the 1930 census Alexander and Lois Pantages were living apart. Lois and her children, Rodney, Lloyd and Carmen were living with her mother, Elvira, and four servants. Alexander’s census record identifies him as an inmate in San Quentin jail. 1929 had been a devastating year for the family. In June Lois caused a car accident that left a man dead and several others injured. In August, Alexander was arrested and tried for raping a 17-year-old woman named Eunice Pringle. Found guilty in a jury trial, Pantages sought a retrial, and finally in 1931 was found not guilty of the charge. The legal battle, however, exhausted a large part of his personal fortune. He had sold all but his flagship Broadway theatre to other owners, including RKO Pictures whose controlling investor, Joseph P Kennedy has been suggested to have been involved in framing Alexander on the charge. Paid in stock, rather than cash, the family fortune declined even faster as the market collapsed. Alexander Pantages died of heart failure in 1936. In Vancouver he had built a new, larger Pantages theatre which opened in 1918, and the old theatre continued under a new name and different management, finally to be redeveloped a few years ago.

Posted May 28, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Imperial Opera House – West Pender Street

This was one of three Opera Houses in early Vancouver – if you include Hart’s house, which only had canvas walls. The CP Railway built the fanciest a long way from the city’s residents in the heart of their Granville Street territory, next to their hotel, opening in 1891. The Imperial pre-dated it by at least two years and was much located closer to the original city, which started life along Water Street as the Granville township, and spread out from there. The Imperial only lasted in business for about five years; Major Matthews, the city’s Archivist recorded that “in 1898 the Imperial Opera House was still in use, but as a Drill Hall.” This image shows the building already in use as the Drill Hall – although the major recorded the use as ‘Drill Shed’. The Imperial had closed in 1894, leaving the CPR building for a while as the sole attraction.

The Imperial opened in May 1889, only three years after the city was newly named and rebuilt after the fire destroyed almost every building. It was initially owned by Crickmay and Robson, who had arrived in 1888, and were both engineers, in partnership in business. They undoubtedly designed it themselves; William Crickmay sometimes described himself as an architect as well as engineer. John Robson returned to England in 1890, but William Crickmay, at the age of about 60, continued to run his engineering business while trying to run the Opera House. While operatic offerings were few and far between, the theatre was initially the only substantial structure to offer plays, visiting performers, the Athletic Club, a skating rink and local events including the Caledonian Society’s ‘Concert, Ball and Celebration’. In August 1889 C Norris appeared with his ’30 educated dogs’. In 1890 The Lacrosse Minstrels performed, John Robson, (not the same John Robson who had built it – this one was Premier of British Columbia) gave a speech, and Miss Agnes Knox, renowned Canadian elocutionist a dramatic recital. A year later the CP’s larger and superior Opera House opened, and bookings at the Imperial slumped. Uncle Tom’s Cabin was performed by the New Orleans Company, and Miss Olof Krarer “The Little Esquimaux Lady” gave a performance with stories of “Life in the Frozen North”.

Miss Krarer, a dwarf, described herself as coming from the remnant of a small tribe of blue-eyed blond people called the Angmagsalik from the east coast of Greenland. Clothed in her “native costume” of a polar bear skin parka, she spoke about her people and their customs and sang native songs. Her face was “peculiar, and almost impossible to portray” and her arms bowed, which she claimed was due to her people’s custom of keeping their arms folded at all times to ward off cold. All people of her race, she stated, were of similar height and build. The Esquimaux, she explained, lived without laws or government, the only distinction being that between rich and poor: the rich were those who had flint to strike fires, and the poor were those who did not. Nearly all the information she gave in the 2,500 lectures she gave in North America was made up, uninformed, and just plain wrong, but no one at the time disputed her facts.

Mr. Crickmay hoped his salvation might come with the creation of the Imperial Stock Company, formed in conjunction with John E Rice of the Belmour-Gray Company, the first attempt at establishing a BC touring circuit. John F Cordray of Seattle was involved, and soon after the refurbished Philharmonic Hall in Victoria joined in . Plays were performed across a number of different venues, carrying the scenery and props with them. Audiences were unpredicatable, and often performances were better attended in small towns than in the bigger cities. A smallpox outbreak in 1892 in Victoria put the circuit out of business. That year ‘Handsome’ Jim Corbett (later ‘Gentleman’ Jim) fought an exhibition bout in the Opera House, but business was thin. It was closed in 1894 and a year later the Imperial was leased by the Provincial Government as a Drill Hall. William Crickmay died on December 24 1900. His sons, Alfred and Fred continued in business in the city as Crickmay Bros; warehousemen and customs brokers.

The building was replaced in 1911 by the Duncan Building, developed by Howard J Duncan and designed by H L Stevens and renamed in 1925 as the Shelly Building when it was acquired by Cora Shelly.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Mil P5

 

Posted May 21, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Georgia and Richards – ne corner

We posted earlier on the first building to be constructed here; St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church. It was demolished in 1937, and yet another gas station and car dealership replaced it a few years later. In 1940 the St Andrew’s Wesley Community Centre was demolished on Richards Street (the original Sunday School building) and this location became home to the Georgia Imperial Service Station run by G T Peverley. In 1942 it was renamed as the Georgia and Richards Service station run by J O Betts.

In 1947 a Ford dealership was added, Black Motors, run by George Black. We’re not sure if the service station always had a sales building on Richards, or was remodeled to add the showroom at the back of the site in a matching style. According to their directory entry the dealership sold “Mercury, Lincoln, Meteor and English Ford Passenger Cars; Mercury Trucks”, and were “Wholesale Parts Distributors for All Ford Products.” It was a big operation; there are over 20 employees listed in the 1948 street directory.

In 1948, when our Vancouver Public Library image was taken, Black Motors also had another location; a paint shop on Seymour Street, and in 1949 they added another on the corner of Dunsmuir & Homer. The Ford dealership was competing with Stonehouse Motors across the street who sold GM products. (In 1949 Black Motors provided the Mercury car that ended up on stage at the Strand Theatre as part of a promotion).

By 1953 the Dunsmuir and Homer location (which was on the same block as this location) was the main business address for Black’s Motors. There was a used car lot on Kingsway and another on Main Street for new and used trucks, and this was listed as the service station. 686 Richards, the former parts department was now listed as Black’s Restaurant, with Mrs A M Oliphant as managing director. That situation remained true in 1955, the last year we can see street directories online. Vancouver As It Was has more on the conversion to a restaurant.

In 1974 the current 10 storey BC Turf Building office was completed. Designed by Zoltan Kiss for the Diamond family and built by Dominion Construction, it has recently been remodeled on the main floor to house the Post Office and the Bank of Montreal, both relocating from nearby. Since 2001 Saskatchewan artist Joe Farfad’s sculpture of “Royal Sweet Diamond”, a bull, stood here. The site was bought from Gulf Oil, who last operated the gas station as a British American station, in 1968. Originally the plan was for a 26 storey hotel, but an oversupply of hotel rooms and tight money supply changed the plans. Originally TD Bank were tenants on the ground floor.

George Black Motors Ltd relocated to North Burnaby, and continued operating there in the 1960s and 1970s.

Posted May 14, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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