Archive for the ‘Still Standing’ Category

Beatty Street – 500 block (2)

We looked at most of the older buildings in this image (but on the Beatty Street side) in one of our earliest posts. The front of the buildings are quite a bit shorter than they are on this side – the back of the warehouses are mostly three storeys taller. Today most of them are taller still, as residential conversion has also seen a couple of lightweight penthouse floors added on top.

 

This 1918 image by Frank Gowen shows that the rail tracks ran right up to the back of the buildings, and covered the area developed in the 1990s as International Village. Today’s SkyTrain tracks run at right angles to those original freight tracks: that’s the vault of Stadium station in the left foreground.

At the end of the block is the Sun Tower (as it’s still known today, althought the Vancouver Sun has moved offices at least three times in the decades since they occupied this building). It was built for the Daily World newspaper, with offices above a printing works, and was briefly claimed as the tallest building in the British Empire (although tallest in Canada is more likely). W T Whiteway designed it in 1910, and it opened in 1912, just as the city hit a serious recession, leaving most of the additional office space intended to make the project pay, empty.

Alongside are the Storey and Cambell warehouse, also by W T Whiteway and built in 1911, and next door Richard Bowman’s warehouse that today has a Townley and Matheson designed façade after a 1944 fire. We looked at the histories of both of the buildings a couple of years ago. Next door, the Crane building had Somervell & Putnam as architects and cost over $120,000 in 1911. In 2008, like the Bowman and Storey warehouses it was converted to residential use, with two tall penthouse floors added (as this 1972 image comparison shows).

The shortest building in the 1918 image is now taller, after a comprehensive reconstruction in 1983 designed by Bruno Freschi of the 1906 Mainland Warehouse to create residential lofts. Originally designed (we think) by Honeyman and Curtis, a rebuilt back façade saw the face of the building moved back to create balconies in a grid of brick piers. The top two floors of the original building were added in 1928, but extra height was added again in the conversion.

Today, 560 Beatty is the least changed, and shortest building. It dates back to 1909, when it was built by J M McLuckie for Fred Buscombe, at a cost of $35,000. In 1899 he bought out James A Skinner and Co, china and glass importers, originally founded in Hamilton, and changed the name to Buscombe & Co. He was at different times President of the city’s Board of Trade, and Mayor of Vancouver in 1905. He was also president of the Pacific Coast Lumber & Sawmills Company, and director of the Pacific Marine Insurance Company.

Next door, 564 Beatty now has an extra four office floors, but it started life much shorter (with just a single floor on Beatty Street) developed by Jonathan Rogers – with an unknown architect. In 1912 J P Matheson designed an additional two storeys for Robert A Welsh, and the office floors (designed by IBI) were added in 2014. In 1918 there was a warehouse next door, but today it’s a set of stairs running down to International Village and the T&T Supermarket, and the SkyTrain station. It was first occupied by Robertson Godson Co who had hired Parr and Fee to design the $35,000 building in 1909.

Image source CVA 1135-4

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Davie and Hornby Street – se corner

This corner of Davie and Hornby is now owned by a development company with plans to build a rental residential tower – which will be the third tower on the block. The building that’s there today isn’t of great age, or architectural merit. It was only built in 1975, so was barely six years old in the ‘before’ picture. At the time it housed a store offering the height of fashionable sleeping – Pacific Waterbeds (who moved from Burrard Street). Today it’s a rather more useful 7-11 store.

The building that was demolished to build the store was quite a bit bigger; an apartment building completed in 1910, known at the time as Rhodesia Mansions (and later the Rhodesia Rooms). That building was developed by Samuel Burris, who also developed the Cecil Hotel, with his sister, Olive Grant. Not surprisingly he hired her brother, George Grant, half of architects Grant and Henderson, to design the $15,000 investment. We’ve spotted the rooms on an early (1926) aerial photograph, but none of our usual sources of images seems to have captured it in a street view before it was demolished.

1200 Burrard, a ten storey office building completed in 1978, still dominates the corner, (full of medical offices), but the gas station across the street is likely to see a residential tower that could be 40 or more storeys; the site having been bought by a developer. (The 19 storey tower that appears at the back is Milano, a residential condo built in 1999).

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W08.36

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Posted May 27, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

Granville Street – 800 block, west side (1)

The corner of Smithe and Granville has a single-storey building dating back to 1910, designed and owned by Leonard Wett, and built by Lewis Yarco at a cost of $5,000. This 1913 Vancouver Public Library image shows it when Turner’s store sold Crockery, Stoves and Graniteware – and Furniture. Mr. Wett continued to own the building for several years, with repairs in 1915, 1916 and in 1920.

Leonard Wett appears in several newspapers from as early as 1896, in connection with his mining interests in the Highland Laddie, Duke and Duchess Mineral Claims north of Campbell River, although the deposits were only developed in the 1930s, producing silver and gold (and are still offering promising assay results). Although his appearance in both the census and street directories is spotty, we know he was born in Germany around 1858, arrived in Canada in 1882 and became a citizen ten years later. He apparently arrived in Vancouver two months before the 1886 fire, and initially worked in the Hastings Mill. A year after he developed the building he was shown as a baker, lodging on Richards Street. Leon Wett, a baker, was recorded in the 1891 census, but so was Leonard Wett (although there’s only one Leonard Wett in the 1891 directory). We thought it could be a duplication error – except one was shown as Lutheran, and the other as Roman Catholic, so it’s less likely they were close relatives. His death was recorded in 1955 when he was 97, survived by nieces and nephews living in Germany and the US.

The two storey building next door was originally built in 1911, designed by Higman & Doctor for William Catto, costing $9,800 to build. It was apparently rebuilt again in 1928, and has seen further regular redesigns of the façade, most recently when a McDonalds restaurant moved in. No William Catto lived in Vancouver, or even British Columbia, but there was one who visited. Dr. William Catto was a physician in Dawson, in the Yukon, but was also part owner of the Lone Star mine, one of only a handful of bedrock gold mines in the Yukon, albeit a small-scale operation. The mine produced a small amount of gold between 1911 and 1914. He was recorded as staying in Vancouver in 1912 (at the Hotel Vancouver).

Next door was the Maple Leaf Theatre. We already looked at the history of the theatre, which later became the Plaza, and more recently the Venue (a nightclub).

 

By 1951 this VPL image shows the corner unit was a ‘Silk Hat famous fruit salads’ cafe, operated by Hank Oliver who also owned the Aristocratic Restaurant chain, including one located immediately across Smithe Street. (The Plaza was showing ‘Night Without Stars’ a 1951 British black-and-white dramatic thriller film, starring David Farrar, Nadia Gray and Maurice Teynac.)

By the early 2000s the corner had the McDonalds restaurant, (seen here in 2004), but they moved next door to the adjacent building, and today there’s a sports goods store on the corner.

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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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Nelson Street – 700 block, south side

While the foreground has changed since this 1981 image was taken, the building further east are unchanged. On the corner of Granville and Nelson is a hotel, just rebranded from a Comfort Inn after extensive renovations. It started life at the Hotel Barron, designed by Parr and Fee for W H Forrest, and completed in 1912. We think Mr. Forrest was agent for the actual owner, Colonel Oscar G. Barron. In it’s new grey and pink paint job it will revert to another earlier name, the Hotel Belmont. Next door the shorter hotel is the Glenaird Hotel, built in 1910 by, and for, contractor Malcolm Griffith, and also designed by Parr and Fee.

On the right of the picture today is Fortune House which had a ‘Now Selling’ sign when the photo was taken, and only finally completed in 1988, seven years later. It was office space from the second to the 10th floors, with the top two floors as residential, but only eight years later the office floors were converted to condos. It hides the view of the back of the Royal Hotel, another Parr and Fee design for Dr. Robert Boyle and Lewercke, and completed in 1911.

In between Granville and Fortune House, on the corner of Granville and Nelson, are a row of single storey retail buildings. There was a store built on the corner here in 1901, designed by ‘Fripp’ (architect R Mackay Fripp) for Mrs. D Gibbons. In 1920 Honeyman & Curtis were hired by F T Andrews to design retail units on the back of three lots, designed to face Nelson Street. We assume Mr. Fripp’s earlier store on Granville was incorporated into the project. Today you can buy pizza from the corner unit, and the three on Nelson offer the choice of poutine, tacos or a drink in The Moose bar. Here they are as they appeared in 1981.

Mrs. Gibbons, who developed the corner, doesn’t show up in the 1901 census – or at least, not as Mrs. D Gibbons. However, Catherine Gibbons, a widow, was head of a household of five children: two daughters (one a domestic, and one a milliner) and three sons, one a clerk and two still in school. Going back to the 1891 census shows Catherine was married to David Gibbons; he was from Ireland, and she was an American, and there were three other older sons who had left home by 1901. The family had arrived in Canada in 1890, and all the children had been born in the USA. In 1901 they were living at 640 Harris Street (today’s East Georgia Street). David Gibbons was a contractor, and he started impressively by getting a contract to grade and plank a Downtown sidewalk in April 1890 – as soon as he arrived in Vancouver. He died in 1897 or early 1898, and Catherine stayed in the brick-built family home until 1912. It was built in 1894 by Irish-born bricklayer and contractor John Henry Freney, a relative of Mr. Gibbons.

Mr. Andrews, who built the Nelson stores twenty years later has proved more elusive – at least as far as census records are concerned. He had built a garage a couple of years before this building, further south on Granville, and in 1907 had been involved in a complicated land sale court case in connection with a Hastings Street lot that he sold to Angelo Calori, the owner of the Hotel Europe. (Mr Calori almost lost the hotel to Mr. Andrews, but the courts sided with Mr. Calori). He also developed another Granville Street property in 1913. The difficulty in tracking him down may possibly be because he seems to have spent quite a bit of his time out of the city. The land deal with Angelo Calori was all arranged initially by cable, while Mr. Andrews was ‘residing temporarily in Engalnd’, and the deeds for the property were in Toronto.

Frederick T Andrews was district manager for the Dominion Permanent Loan Co, based in Ottawa, in 1898. In 1908 he was inspector for the same company, based in Vancouver, but had spent the previous year in England. In 1912 the Province reported ‘Mr F. T. Andrews of this city has returned from a visit to England extending over eighteen months. On the return trip Mrs. Andrews remained over in St. Thomas., Ont., to visit relatives.” In 1913 he added a substantial three storey addition to the Palms Hotel on Granville, that he had also acquired, and he was living there in 1917 when we think he may have built another garage on Granville Street. In 1915 the Canadian Northern Railway bought one of his properties in conjunction with their arrival into the city. That was after another legal fight over the acquisition of the False Creek land by the railway company – who weren’t keen on compensating former owners in a particularly timely manner.

We think F T Andrews had family members in the city: Frank M Andrews, a salesman, also lived at the hotel in 1917, as well as J Andrews, a clerk. In 1921 Francis Andrews lived with his wife and baby on Commercial Drive, and was shown as having arrived in Canada in 1911. John M Andrews was living with his uncle, Frank T Andrews, and had also arrived in 1911 – so they would have been missed by the 1911 census. It would seem that F T Andrews wasn’t living in Vancouver in 1921.

Surprisingly, the single storey retail stores still stand today, although renewal and densification are starting to change this part of Granville Street.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W03.05 and CVA 779-W03.04

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Posted April 29, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Nelson Street – 600 block, south side

This 1981 image shows that not everything has changed Downtown – yet. If heritage status could be conferred on surface parking lots, this one might qualify, as it has been a vacant site for at least 40 years, with no sign yet of a development proposal.

We’ve seen the buildings that were on the site before it was cleared in an earlier post. There were houses here until at least the mid 1950s. Across the lane (fronting Granville Street) is a 1912 hotel, built as the Hotel Barron for  an absentee American owner, O G Barron. Parr and Fee designed the hotel, as well as the Glenaird Rooms to the south. For many years the hotel was known as the Belmont, then the Nelson Place Hotel, and more recently has been a Comfort Inn. The bars and cellar bar have been reinvented many times, including in their last iteration as Doolin’s Irish Pub and the Belmont Bar.

Currently the hotel is getting a comprehensive make-over under new owners, reopening as a boutique hotel that will once again bear the Hotel Belmont name, with the Living Room restaurant and Basement Bar.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E03.08A

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Posted April 11, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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East Pender Street – 100 block, south side

While parts of Chinatown (including these buildings) are seeing change to the businesses occupying the main floor retail units, the bricks and mortar have remained unchanged for several decades. The exact date for the image is unknown – it’s said to have been taken between 1960 and 1980. In the background, across the street, the sign for the Marco Polo Club is visible. It was demolished in 1983, and opened at the end of 1964, so we can narrow the date a bit, and our best guess is the early 1970s – possibly 1972.

The most westerly building on the block (on the right) is the Sun Ah Hotel, home to the Ho Ho Restaurant (more recently Foo’s Ho Ho, currently being refurbished). It was designed for Chinese merchant Loo Gee Wing by R T Perry and R A Nicholais, and completed in 1911. The European style of architecture has no obvious reference to Chinatown, even though the client was a prominent Chinese merchant and property developer. There was an earlier building on the site, with Chinese merchants based here from before the turn of the 20th century (when the street was still Dupont Street). The Lung Kong Tien Yee Association acquired the building in 1926, and today it’s an Single Room Occupancy dwelling.

Several of the city’s ‘working ladies’ had houses in this location in the late 1890s, including Bilcox McDonald and Gabrielle Delisle. In 1909 the middle building in the group was constructed, replacing one of the houses. It was a very different style – occupied by The Chinese Benevolent Association. In the first half of the 20th century this was the most important organization in Chinatown. We don’t have an identified architect for the building, started in 1908 and supervised by Chinese merchant Yip Sang. In 1909 Michael O’Keefe was hired at a cost of $10,000 to design and complete the Chinese Hall here, and he had designed and built other properties for Yip Sang’s Wing Sang Company in the early 1900s. The imposing council hall featured a shrine to Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, and the room was furnished with elaborately carved armchairs from the Qing Dynasty. In the 1970s, the CBA lost most of its influence. It has since been restructured and has once again become an important organization in the Vancouver Chinese community.

It housed an organization with deep roots in China. It evolved from the Hongmen movement, which is said to have originated as a group opposed to Manchu rule. In 1910 and 1911, the organization, in their old Vancouver headquarters at Pender and Carrall streets, hid Dr. Sun Yat-Sen from the agents of the imperial Manchu government. The organization is also said to have mortgaged its previous building with the proceeds going to help pay for the Chinese revolution of 1911. Today, the Chinese Freemasons in Vancouver through the Dart Coon Club own and administer this and another building on Pender Street, and two non-profit housing projects.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-473

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