Archive for the ‘Still Standing’ Category
We’ve looked at the building on the right of this 1975 image in two previous posts; when it was a newspaper office and printing works, and a little earlier in 1922 when it was also a knitting factory. The building next door is slightly oldier; the corner building dates from 1911 but Thomas Roberts built the Roberts Block in 1908. We’ve looked at Mr. Roberts in an earlier post. He was responsible for a later Roberts Block on Water Street, designed by Hugh Braunton in 1911. Although the 1908 Contract Record itemized the cost of the Pender Street building – $24,0000 – it didn’t mention the architect, and the Building permit has been lost. The Vancouver Daily World reported in January 1908 that the new building being proposed would a 5-storey building, and that Mr. Roberts himself was supervising the construction of the tender to construct the basement but doesn’t reference a designer.
Mr. Roberts hired R H Bracken in 1903 to build a $25,000 addition to his hotel, and again in 1910 to design a stable for his West End home and Hugh Braunton to design the Grand Hotel in 1905 and the Roberts Block on Water Street in 1911. However, as far as we can tell, he designed this commercial building himself. He obtained a Permit to dig the footings in January 1908, and the main building permit in March. By August the Province were reporting “The finishing touches are being added to a modern business block just completed on the north side of Pender street between Homer and Hamilton street. It is a two-story brick fire-proof structure, with basement, extending the full length of lot, 120 feet. It is owned by Mr. T. J. Roberts, proprietor of the Grand Hotel. Mr. Roberts designed the plans and personally supervised every detail of construction.
The upper floor has been magnificently equipped for the purposes of a lodging house. The specious rooms can be used single or en suite. Every apartment has a steam heat radiator besides behind supplied with hot and cold water, gas heating pipes, fire alarm, city and house telephones.
The first floor has been divided into offices which are so designed that they can be converted into bedrooms if the entrée building should be subsequently used as a lodging house exclusively. The ground floor is occupied my Messrs. Greene & Simpson, undertakers. This large floor space contains a beautiful chapel, reception hall, inquest, embalming and stock rooms.”
By October the building was complete, and occupied. Very soon after this there was a fire, reported that same month: “Prompt Work of Firemen Saved Costly Blaze at Cabello Cigar Factory on Pender Street. Fire broke out late last evening in the bonded warehouse of the Cabello Cigar Manufacturing Co., in the Roberts block, on Pender street. Passers by who saw the smoke turned in an alarm and awoke the night – watchman, who sleeps at Greene & Simpson’ undertaking parlors, in the same building. By the time – halls 2, 1 and 6 arrived, however, the fire had got a good start and was blazing away merrily. The firemen worked with their usual skill and energy, and by midnight the flames were extinguished. It is not yet known how the blaze originated, but it is thought that damages will be about $1,000, as a large quantity of cigars and tobacco were destroyed. A number of caskets, belonging to Messrs. Greene & Simpson, were somewhat injured by the smoke, though fortunately not seriously.”
We covered the story of Tommy Roberts and his Water Street development in a post a year ago. Thanks to Andrea Butler, Tommy’s great granddaughter, we have this fabulous family image of Tommy Roberts (on the right, with his dog) and his uncle, Tommy Cyrs, in the middle, who probably developed the Grand Hotel on Water Street.
Tommy Roberts owned a fair amount of property around Vancouver, and even some in New Westminster and Coquitlam. He died after an intruder burst into a high stakes card game in the West End, and robbed the players. Reports said that Tommy Roberts wasn’t willing to give up the ring he was wearing, and was shot. There are suggestions that there was some cheating going on, and the robbery was rigged, but the thief got away and never identified. The huge diamond ring was not taken by the intruder, but it had disappeared by the time Tommy’s body got to the morgue.
Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-265
We looked at this corner, with its early flatiron building, in an earlier post that took a more distant view of this building. This 1892 Vancouver Public Library view of the Holland Block shows it just completing construction. It was designed by C W H Sansom for James M. Holland, described as ‘an early real estate developer’.
Nothing seems to have been recorded of Mr. Holland’s history – other than his middle initial, and his area of employment. Before 1890 he was in partnership with W O Elliot as Real Estate Agents, as his partnership was dissolved that year. He also had interests that year south of the border: “Jas. M. HOLLAND has been appointed agent in Blaine for the Northern Pacific railroad, thus giving Blaine even advantages with other places in securing traveling privileges“. He may have been in a real estate partnership in Blaine as well; the Blaine Journal reporting that “HOLLAND & McFARLAND have just completed them a real estate office at the corner of H and Washington avenue“.
In 1891 James M Holland was registered in the Canada census as aged 32, an American and a lawyer. The Daily World confirmed that in 1890, announcing that “James M. Holland, the well known real estate agent of this city, has been admitted as an attorney in the Superior Court of Washington”. He was listed as lodging rather than owning property in the census, which the street directory confirmed; he was living in rooms at the Leland rooms at 131 E Hastings. His offices were on Cordova Street where he dealt in real estate, loans and insurance.
The first time he appears in a directory was in 1888 when he was the manager of the Vancouver Real Estate Exchange. Representatives from 25 companies created and signed a formal constitution and bylaws. The Exchange collapsed after almost three months and 24 meetings; there wouldn’t be a similar organization in the city until 1919. James didn’t stay here too long; the last entry we can find for him was in 1895, when he was listed as a capitalist, and living here, in the Holland Block. He had previously moved to Seattle in 1891, but apparently returned and built this corner building after that.
He was in a business partnership in Seattle as early as 1890, so seems to have divided his attention between BC and Washington State over several years. In 1892 he was president of the Bank of Sumas, in Sumas City, announced in the Daily World in 1891. In 1893 he acquired property in Blaine: “Documents were signed last week which makes James M. HOLLAND of Seattle the owner of the Lindsey block, sitting on the corner of Washington avenue and Martin street. The sum named in the conveyance is $20,000. This is one of the finest pieces of rental property in the city, being built of brick and in every way central and convenient. Mr. HOLLAND is to be congratulated on coming into possession of this fine piece of real estate, and it can but prove a remunerative investment. Mr. HOLLAND, as is shown by this investment, has an abiding faith in the future prosperity of Blaine.”
An 1895 announcement suggests he had got married: a Blaine newspaper reported that “Mr. and Mrs. James M. HOLLAND of Vancouver have gone for a visit to New York City.” Earlier that year the Holland Building in Whatcom was destroyed by fire, but was fortunately insured. There the trail goes cold; there are no further references in any Seattle, Vancouver or Blaine publications we can find.
We now know that he initially stayed in New York – James M Holland wrote in 1931 from Wall Street, recalling joining Theta Chi (a fraternal organization) fifty years earlier in Vermont “During fall quarter in 1881, Norwich University was reduced to only 12 students and Theta Chi’s membership was reduced to one undergraduate member, James M. Holland. In November of that year, Phil S. Randall and Henry B. Hersey approached Holland and insisted that they be allowed to join Theta Chi; Holland agreed, thus saving the Fraternity from extinction“.
Theta Chi have a history that includes a biography for James Michael Holland, and it includes a reference to him being in Vancouver, so we can be sure it’s the same person. He was born in Northfield, Vermont, in 1859, went to university and then studied law, being called to the Michigan bar in 1884. From 1885 to 1887 he represented a Boston bank in Fargo, North Dakota, then in real estate in both Seattle and Vancouver until 1895. That was the year he married and moved to New York, where he practiced law, engaged in real estate and public utilities, buying, improving and then selling to the municipality the water supply for Northfield. He was a trustee of Norwich University (where he obtained his degree) for 20 years. He died in Northfield in 1944.
We looked at a view from this location in an earlier post. That was photographed in 1888, this was almost certainly some time in the 1970s, although we’re looking at an undated (and slightly out-of-focus) original, so precise dating is difficult. On the left there’s a board pointing to the Dansk Bistro in the Mews, described as a ‘Danish Lunch Center’. We know we must be past 1970 because The Old Spaghetti Factory was already trading – and today that makes the pasta 47 years old as it opened in 1970 in the Malkin Warehouse (now a rental live-work building)
There’s an antique store trading on the south side (with a red awning), in 22 Water Street, one of the buildings developed by Tommy Roberts. The Mews was the retail complex created from the Nagle Brother garage, built in 1930 on the site of the city’s first firehall.
Apart from the addition of the Bruce Carscadden designed infill at 33 Water Street, (and the design of the litter bin) very little seems to have changed in about 45 years, although most of the buildings on the south (left) side have been rebuilt, added to and have residential uses added on the upper floors.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-5076
When this apartment building was first completed it was known as the Mount Stephen Block. The architecture features the trademark brick patterning used by Townsend & Townsend, with one of the most flamboyant pressed metal cornice designs ever built in the city. ‘Exploring Vancouver also noted that ‘Two immodest female figures energetically support the heavy pediment’. The owner, and builder of the $60,000 project on the corner of Quebec St was W D Muir.
We’ve seen a number of the Townsend’s other projects in the city. Many had the Argyle checker pattern in red, on a buff background. They used the same design on warehouses and apartments throughout the city. Although published biographies suggest they were brothers, our research suggests they were father and son, probably from Manchester. They were only in the city from 1909 to 1913, but managed to design buildings worth over $800,000.
W D Muir was initially a grocer in Mount Pleasant; his premises were close to the flatiron where Main and Kingsway meet at 8th Avenue and he was a pioneer, establishing his grocery and bakery around 1896. He dropped the grocery, not only producing thousands of loaves, but in 1903 patenting the oven he used to bake them. In 1904 the ‘Mount Pleasant Advocate’ announced that he had added another oven, and could now turn out over 1,000 loaves of bread in an hour. In 1905, when flour prices increased by $1 a barrel, W D Muir announced that he had $3,000 of flour on hand, and so could continue to feed Vancouver for a while longer without raising prices.
In 1908 Wiliam is already listed as retired; he had sold the bakery business a year or two earlier to Hanbury Evans & Co. In 1909 he sold the large brick ‘Muir Block’ on the corner of Westminster (Main) and 8th, and he obtained the permit to build this apartment block in 1911, with completion a year later.
The 1901 census tells us Mr Muir was from Quebec, born in 1856, while his wife Jane was from Ontario and a year younger. Their six year old son, Thomas, had been born in British Columbia. The household was large – there were seven lodgers, two who presumably worked for William as they were bakers, and a domestic servant. Duncan Muir was one of the lodgers, aged 21, a teamster (as were two others). By 1911 he’s shown born in 1854, and while Jane is a year younger her birth date is shown as 1850, showing census clerks couldn’t necessarily calculate accurately. William is shown as retired, living on income (presumably from selling his business, and a little later from rent). Their domestic was shown as Florence Muir, who was 28, and James and Jennie Muir, William’s niece and nephew were also living in the family. Jennie was aged 14, but James was 53 and working in a bakery as a stableman.
The Mount Stephen Apaertments switched at some point in the 1950s to be an ‘apartment hotel and rooms’. It subsequently reverted to being a rental building that by 1979 was run down. The landlord of the day looked to add a massive rent increase, and the tenants fought it. With Federal financial support they formed a co-op and bought and renovated the building in 1980. The co-op later purchased the lot next door to add a yard, garden and parking space. With their new name, the Quebec Manor Co-op continues to offer 32 affordable rental apartments.
Image source: City of Vancouver archives CVA SGN 1028
The Beaconsfield is one of the earlier apartment buildings built in the West End. Completed in 1910, the building permit tells us it was designed by J S D Taylor and built by McLean & Fulton at a cost of $85,000. The developer was A J Woodward. The building’s features include the bays filled with wooden balconies and some art nouveau details, with a slightly incongruous Palladian style window in the recessed entrance court.
We’re reasonably confident that Mr. Woodward was unrelated to the Woodward family who were rapidly expanding their Downtown departmental stores. We don’t believe he was (at the time of the building’s construction) a Vancouver resident; we think that it’s Arthur Joseph Woodward, the owner of the Vancouver Floral Company, living in Victoria. (There was another Arthur J Woodward in Vancouver, but as a bartender living in rooms, he seems an unlikely developer)
The Victoria based Arthur was born in England, as was Adelaide, his wife, and according to the 1911 census had arrived in 1905 with at least eleven children, all still living at home in 1911, aged from six to twenty-seven. In fact Mr. Woodward had arrived in 1888, and established a large seed and floral business with significant glasshouses and nurseries in both Ross Bay in Victoria and in Kerrisdale.
In 1914 The Woodward family built a new British Arts & Craft style home in Saanich. Five years earlier A J Woodward had paid for the construction of a new Gospel Hall in the 1100 block of Seymour Street. We’re pretty confident that it’s the same developer as the apartment building because the architect and builder were the same, (apparently Mr. Taylor’s first Canadian design). For many years this building was ‘women only’, offering apartments to nurses at St Paul’s Hospital.
Today the building still offers rental apartments, although the street is closed and the tree canopy almost hides the entire structure in summer, and the cornice has been lost.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives M-11-57
Here’s the Post Office building completed in 1910, and designed by David Ewart, the Government’s Ottawa based head architect of the day. This is one of the undated images from the City’s Archives. The cars suggest late 1970s or maybe early 1980s. The Granville Square tower designed by Francis Donaldson behind the Post Office was completed in 1972. It was the first (and only) tower of the Project 200 scheme that would have seen a wall of towers (and a freeway) replacing Gastown. All the other buildings in our original image were older; the extension to the Post Office was designed in 1935 by McCarter and Nairne, and the Royal Bank Tower on the eastern side of the junction also dates from the 1930s.
In the 1950s the Post Office moved out to a much larger structure, that has recently been abandoned (with many operations moving out to a new building near the airport). This building was reused as Government offices.
Today both the Post Office and the addition form part of the Sinclair Centre. Four buildings were restored and connected by a new atrium space designed by Henriquez Partners Architects and Toby Russell Buckwell Architects in 1986. If you’ve ever wondered who the Sinclair in the name was, he was James Sinclair, member of Parliament for Vancouver North and later Coast—Capilano as well as Minister of Fisheries. These days Mr. Sinclair is also known as Margaret Trudeau’s father.
A couple of years back the Federal Government, having abandoned attempts to sell the Sinclair Centre,enquired whether they could reconfigure and add to the site to create a huge million square foot office complex. The City agreed they could proceed with preliminary designs, but nothing more has been heard of the idea, (and there’s a different government in Ottawa now).
Image source; City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-454
Here’s the only Vancouver residential apartment building designed by San Francisco architects Wright, Rushforth & Cahill. Wright was the lead partner, and originally from England, but Bernard Cahill was the likely designer, from San Francisco. It dates from 1910, and was completed a year later. The building permit estimated a cost of $100,000, but as designs were clarified the cost was raised to $157,000. In submitting the permit, the architects (who had opened a Vancouver office) claimed to be the builders This was unlikely to be true; they co-ordinated the trades who were the builders: the Wells Construction company carried out the initial site works of excavation and basement construction.
The developers were the Pacific Investment Corporation, and the Contract Record published some of the details of the project: “There will be 82 apartments in all, comprised as follows: 56 3-room, 22 4-room, 2 5-room and 2 2-room. In addition, there is a store on the comer suitable for grocer or druggist. Provision is also made for a cafe below the ground floor on Davie street, with stairway from the entrance vestibule. The basement will contain the heating plant, hot water service, vacuum cleaning plant, storage rooms, and janitor’s quarters. For the convenience of tenants, there will be dumb waiters, messenger and telegraph call boxes, mail chutes, patent sanitary garbage chutes, and vacuum cleaning system. Near the passenger elevator will be a ‘phone with connection to each apartment.”
The Pacific Investment Corporation’s fiscal agents were Wolverton & Co, run (in Vancouver) by Alfred N Wolverton and managing stocks, bonds and investments in real estate and timber. Newton Wolverton was president of Wolverton & Co, but was based in Nelson. He was president of Sunset Mills (a lumber company) and of Pacific Investment Corporation. He was born in Ontario, had an extraordinary career; he obtained a law degree, became Principal of Woodstock College (a Baptist training college) and then of Bishop College University in Texas from 1897 to 1903. He then became Superintendent of the Brandon Experimental Farm before moving to BC to take up finance and real estate in 1907.
It appears that the building is still owned today by the a company with the same name, which may well have been an investment vehicle to develop the building. The investment opportunity was offered in February 1910: “The Pacific Investment Corporation, Limited, has purchased for the sum of $25,000 a double corner, 132×132 feet, the southeast coiner of Davie and Jervis streets, the very finest apartment building site in Vancouver’s exclusive West End. (It is immaterial that the company his since been offered $27,000 for this property). The company is going to erect the finest and most up-to-date six-storey apartment block in Western Canada on the business unit system and the estimated cost of property and building is $135,000. The company is now placing on the market 750 business units at par $100 each $25 cash, balance in two, four and six months, without interest. About one-third of these units is already subscribed.”
Our image dates from around 1911, when the building was featured in a postcard now in the BC Archives collection. As far as we know the store, and lower level café were never built. Bernard Cahill’s buildings after Holly Lodge include the Multnomah Hotel in Portland, also still standing today.