Archive for the ‘Still Standing’ Category

1100 Granville Street – west side (2)

We looked at the buildings on the northern end of the block in our previous post. Here they are in 1981, and they’re all still standing today, even though most are over 100 years old. Here’s the middle of the 1100 block of Granville, (not the 700 block, as the Archives have it titled), with Carl Gustafson’s Clifton Rooms (now the Clifton Hotel) on the right of the picture. This picture is bookended by another Parr and Fee designed Hotel, the St Helen’s Hotel, at 1161 Granville, designed for G A Lees and H F Maskell and completed in 1911. It was built by Hemphill Brothers and cost $60,000, and opened in December 1911, but became an annex for the Hotel Barron across the street. In between are four more modest one and two storey buildings.

The three storey building next door is 1157 (today). There was nothing on the site in 1903, and in 1912 J B Houston spent $100 adding a one-storey brick furnace house to the building that had been constructed, but there’s no permit for the building itself, which first appeared in 1909 as a rooming house at 1153 Granville run by Andrew J Napier, and a vacant retail unit at 1155 A year later it was occupied by G W Cowan, musical instruments and Roddick & Calder – D Calder and J G Roddick, who lived here, and ran the West Side Rooms. Either there were two establishments in the same building, or Mr. Napier owned the property and Roddick and Calder ran it, (or the directory was confused). Those arrangements ended quite quickly – only a year later Robert Rowbottom was at 1155 running the furnished rooms, with the Standard Investment Co, run by K J Robinson, The Granville Pool Rooms (Steven & Muldoon, props.) and Walter Richards running a tobacconists at 1157. By 1968 these were known as the Clark Rooms, and they were allowed to convert to market rental from rooming house.

The single storey retail units to the north were constructed in 1930 and 1924, although there were earlier structures, one occupied by the West End Liquor Co (before prohibition). Beyond them, next to the Clifton, there’s an older 2-storey building that was one of the earliest on the block – although it’s not as old as BC Assessment think – they date it to 1901 – but there was nothing here on the 1903 insurance map. In 1911 it was William Thomson’s store – selling pianos, organs, player pianos and musical instruments. It looks as if there was a rooming house upstairs, run by M Catherwood in 1910, John Webster the year before (the first year we think the building operated), and David Izen in 1911. If it was built in 1908/09 the development permit has been lost.

This part of Granville still sees a regular turnover of businesses, and nothing seems to last long. Mostly businesses cater to the nearby clubs, with inexpensive street food sold late into the night, and there were restaurants here in 1981, including the Fisherman’s Net selling seafood and Ming’s Café, bookending a branch of the Bank of Montreal. More recently there have been new restaurants here like the twisted Fork Bistro and Umeda tempura opening through the day, and attracting lineups at weekends.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W03.22


Posted January 20, 2020 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

Tagged with

1100 Granville Street – west side (1)

The building on the corner is one of the newer buildings on this block of Granville, only dating back to 1919. It started life as a car showroom, designed by A E Henderson for agents Griffith & Lee, built by J B Arthur at a cost of $15,000. In 1921 the Oldsmobile dealership of Bowell McDonald was here, and later a Chevrolet dealership. By the 1930s it became retail stores – and in 1981 when this picture was taken, Lo Cost Rent A Car.

Although it’s now incorporated into the same lot today, the single storey building to the south was designed and built by builders Tinney & Humphries for Mr. C J De Vos Van Steenwyck. There’s no sign of anyone with that name in the city at that time, but Clara Jacoba De Vos van Steenwyck (who was a Baroness), arrived in New York in 1914, and gave Vancouver as her residence. She was resident in Vancouver in the 1920s, featured in a Vancouver Sun profile in 1945, and died here in 1960. She applied to both lease and own large areas of land in BC in the 1930s, and we rather suspect that the ‘Mr’ in the building permit was inaccurate, as she apparently never married. A 1924 permit for a house on W47th Avenue identified her as ‘Van Steenwyk, Miss’. She carried out repairs to this building in 1920, when it was identified as ‘George’s Place’ in the permit. (The accurate spelling of the baroness’s name was Steenwijk, but that seems to have been too difficult for Canadian records). George’s Place was run by George Mottishaw and George Truesdell, but the street directory doesn’t tell us what the Georges did.

The next, two-storey building is unusual because it was built in 1909, and of concrete construction (just in its infancy as a construction technique). It was built by Chaffer & Kimber at a cost of $3,700 for E Lovick, and designed by Thomas Hooper. Actually it was probably either F or H Lovick – Frank and Harold Lovick ran a piano store here (Hicks and Lovick), although Herbert soon worked as the accountant for the News Advertiser. Hicks and Lovick continued here through to the early 1920s, (Gideon Hicks was in Victoria). The Frank Lovick Piano Co continued later in the 1920s on the 1000 block of Granville.

The four storey building to the south is the Clifton Hotel, the Clifton Rooms when it opened in 1910. It was developed by C F Gustafson, a Swedish contractor, who started out building houses in the early 1900s, and later an apartment building in the West End in the 1920s. This building’s design was a cookie cutter of at least five others, all still standing today, all designed by Parr and Fee, with centre pivoted windows and a front façade of glazed white brick. Today it’s still a rooming house.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W03.14


West Georgia Street – 1200 block, north side

The heritage apartment building on the corner of West Georgia and Bute in this 1981 picture is called The Banff today, but started life as Florence Court. Designed by H B Watson, it was built for an Irish-born real estate broker called James Byrne in 1909. In 1999 The Venus, a 34 storey condo tower was built to the west, replacing low commercial buildings. There were car showrooms here in the 1910s, (as we saw in the previous posts) and an original early 1900s house until at least 1948.

The next building down the street is one of the earliest international style office buildings in the city, and pretty much the only one that hasn’t been altered or re-clad. Completed in 1959 for Imperial Oil, it was designed by Hal Semmens soon after his partnership with Douglas Simpson had ended. The building is clad in two shades of grey, a darker blue grey and a pale grey, both in opaque glass, divided into a series of horizontal rectangular panels. Although founded in Ontario, Imperial has had a long history in Vancouver, opening Canada’s first service station in the city in 1907.

Across Jervis, on the shorter 1300 block, another condo tower was added in 1997. The Pointe is one of Bing Thom’s earliest towers, using an angled frame aligned with the street on a building partly set at an acute angle (to align with the Pender Street angle to the north) to create a dynamic design that’s unlike any other Vancouver residential tower. It was an early project for Grand Adex, a Concord Pacific related company, and was designed with Hancock Bruckner Eng and Wright.

Beyond it is a 1969 building, now a heritage building, built as the headquarters for the now defunct West Coast Transmission Co. Its unique characteristics were designed by Rhone and Iredale, collaborating with Bogue Babicki, a Polish-born engineer who worked on some of the most iconic Vancouver buildings including the Law Courts and Science World. The structure is designed to withstand a strong earthquake, and is said to be based on analyzing large trees that had survived earthquakes in other regions. They are able to sway during the quake and are therefore able to dissipate energy.

The building was designed with a concrete core to act as the trunk, with the elevators and utilities running vertically. The rest of the building was then hung from the core (with the frames starting from the top down, seen here in 1969) using steel cables to support them from the top. The cladding was then added from the bottom up. Over time the cables stretched a little, so there was a slight slope on the floors.

The building was converted in 2006 to residential use, and given a new name, Qube, with new replacement glazed walls to reasonably closely match the original (but now with opening windows, as required by residential code). It still ends up suspended some distance above the ground, with just the core reaching the ground (a detail lost from this distance, and with street trees along Georgia).

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W14.03


Posted January 13, 2020 by ChangingCity in Still Standing

Tagged with , ,

The Berkeley – Bute Street

If we had waited for winter, more of this West End apartment building would be visible, but we chose summer as the building looks pretty much the same as when it was built in 1913, but the context has changed as the area’s street landscaping has matured. The apartments were worth $200,000 when they were built by Oliver Lightheart, the youngest of six Lightheart brothers who all came from Nottawasaga in Ontario, and all went into the construction and development business in Vancouver. Oliver was only 25 when he developed this building, and given the outlay it’s possible he may have had support from other family members. We have written about his family elsewhere, and seen his later investment property (also in the West End, and built in 1928) in an earlier post.

The Vancouver Public Library image dates from 1930, when there were no street trees on Bute, only on Nelson. The building was renovated in 2011, and continues to offer 36 rental units – these days ‘heritage’ apartments.


Posted January 9, 2020 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

Tagged with

500 block Seymour Street – west side (3)

We looked at the building on the right in a much earlier post. Today it’s Malone’s bar, with the confusingly named Cambie Hostel Downtown upstairs (some distance from Cambie Street). The corner building opened as The Clarence Hotel, run by Frank Foubert, in January 1893. There had been a wooden hotel, the St Charles, built here soon after the 1886 fire that destroyed the city, but it also burned down in 1892, and the Clarence was built of fireproof brick by the owner, the Marquis of Queesnberry, a Scottish nobleman. (He hired Mr. Horrobin as contractor, and architects Fripp and Wills). It had a further addition to the south (up the hill) some time after 1900, and before 1913. It’s most likely  that the addition was built when the building permits have been lost – in the mid to late 1900s.

In 1913 it was owned by J K Sutherland, who hired architect A J Bird to design $1,200 of alterations. In 1918 William Holden owned the property and had Thomas Fee design another $600 of changes, and in 1921 A Gignas did some more minor improvements. In 1922 Crowe & Wilson owned the building and spent $750 on alterations.

Next door, across the lane to the south and up the hill, is the Seymour Building. This was developed (according to the permit) by the Yorkshire Building Co and some images refer to it as the Yorkshire Building. Technically the clerk was shortcutting – the developer was “the Yorkshire Guarantee and Securities Corporation Ltd” – an English based organization. They built a portfolio of interests in the city, and Dominion Construction erected the $250,000 investment in 1913, which was designed by Somervell & Putnam.

William Farrell moved to Vancouver with his wife in 1891 as the first General Manager of the Yorkshire Guarantee and Securities Corporation. The company was backed by wealthy woollen merchants in Huddersfield in Yorkshire, and they had extensive interests in early Vancouver, including a controlling interest in the Vancouver Loan and Securities Corp., and the city’s street railway. Farrell also acquired the city’s telephone system, acquiring rival small companies to create the BC Telephone Company Limited in 1904.

Richard Broadbridge photographed construction of the new building, which had a concrete rather than a steel frame. It has been suggested that there was a delay in completing the building because of the war, but in fact it was almost fully leased and occupied by 1914. The new tenants were a ‘who’s who’ of Vancouver business, looking to impress in a new building. There was a building society, notaries, land agents and brokers. There was Fruit and Farm magazine, a Grain Exchange, a steamship agent, timber agents and insurance agents and adjusters. There was a surveyor, engineers, architects and real estate agents. Near the top of the building there was a dentist, and an artist, and BC Fisheries. The artist, Thurman A Ellis had ‘quietly married’ Miss Lillian Smith in 1913, and seems not to have made much of a mark on Vancouver society, leaving the city by 1915.

Over the years hundreds of tenants have come and gone, but the building still offers small offices in a convenient part of town in a recently restored building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E01.33 and LGN 553.jpg



Northern Electric – Robson Street

In the summer it’s impossible to be sure that this 1928 building is the same as it was in the picture, photographed in this Vancouver Public Library image a year after it was built. Nothing much has changed externally, although it was added to in 1947 with a matching element. To the east (left of the picture) there’s a former gas station that’s been a bar for many years. The architects for the Northern Electric building were McCarter Nairne, with Northern Electric’s Montreal based architect, Joseph Onesime Despatie. The building was basic, but there are a few modest Art Moderne / Classical touches at the entrance.

Northern Electric started life in the mid 1890s as the manufacturing subsidiary of Bell Telephone of Canada. Before they developed here they occupied a building on Water Street. During the 1920s, as well as the core telephone and related business, Northern Electric made kettles, toasters, cigar lighters, electric stoves, and washing machines. The Vancouver buildings were warehouse space, with a showroom, but manufacturing took place elsewhere. The company name was truncated to Nortel many years later, and eventually saw a spectacular bankruptcy in 2009. They had long abandoned this building, which had been purchased in 1958 by the Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver for use as their Catholic Centre, containing their offices and the Catholic Men’s Hostel with over 100 beds on the third floor. A new office building was built some years ago on the site of the former St Vincent’s Hospital, and only the hostel occupies the building for now.

In 2018 City Council approved the development of a 29 storey residential tower here. It will sit above the restored facades of the Northern Electric Building, and there will be a hotel in the restored part, on four floors, with an adjacent new six storey building to the east. The oldest part of the heritage warehouse will have a restaurant on the main floor, and there will be a coffee shop in the 1947 addition. The Catholic Hostel is moving initially to St Paul’s Hospital, and will need another new home once that is redeveloped in a few years time.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu N279.2


Posted December 9, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

Tagged with ,

Robson Street – 1100 block, south side (1)

Here’s the south side of the 1100 block of Robson in a 1939 Vancouver Public Library image. Today the stores offer clothing to a broad group of shoppers from around the region, and beyond, but in the 1930s they were more likely to be local, looking for a haircut, and food from Safeway. (Both of those can still be found a few blocks down the street). Today, Aritzia, a locally based clothing chain have several stores here, including their Downtown flagship store. The company operates 84 stores, each individually designed, throughout Canada and the US.

In 1939 there were far more small businesses, with a grocery store on the corner of Thurlow, just out of the picture, then the Glaz-O-Nut Doughnut store at 1102-and-a-half Robson, Woodall’s Hand Knitting Shop and on the left of the picture, F B Patterson’s barber salon. The Cookie Crock bakery was to the west, then P B Dean’s delicatessen, the Egg Basket selling butter, cheese and eggs, and then Safeway’s grocery store. The New Coleen Confectionery store was at 1116, with Edmund Daem, a CPR porter and his wife, and daughter Josie, a stenographer lived upstairs. The rival Silver Star confectioners were next door, and then Moore’s cleaning and dyeing business.

The Safeway store and several other buildings revealed their origins as a residential rather than retail street. Safeway’s 1110 Robson had been a house in 1901, 1106 Robson. It was occupied by Henry Vaughan, a clerk, with Frank Filion, a grocer living in a house to the east and Thomas Bradbury, a contractor to the west. Frank designed a new house himself, in 1902, and had P Dermes build the stone foundation. (He had previously been a hotel-keeper in Gastown, before moving to the West End). The future Safeway store was owned by Yorkshire & Canadian Trust Co in 1919. It was apparently still a residential building in 1936, when Mrs. E M Jenkins, a dressmaker lived there, but a year later it was the Safeway store.

Beyond it, the two storey building two doors to the west was designed for Gillingham & Korner for D M Hourigan in 1920, and cost $4,000 to build. In 1921 Daniel Hourigan was 51 and from Ontario, and seems to have owned at least two of the buildings here. He was married to Alice, a 53 year old American, and seemed to be living on the income from his investments. In 1911 they were living in Toronto, where a daughter was still living with them. Daniel died in 1944, and in 1949 The Medicine Hat News reported that Alice, and her daughter, Mrs. Moyer (who lived in Medicine Hat) had driven 2,000 miles for her to visit her native Illinois for the first time in 38 years, at the age of 82. Their daughter, Mary, had been born in Illinois.

The three storey building to the west is still standing today. It was built in 1912 for Esther P Buchanan, who hired W P White to design it. Allan Brothers built the $35,000 ‘Apartment/rooms; three-storey brick store and apartment’. Esther knew the site well, as she lived here, in a house, before it was developed. She was wife of Richard G Buchanan, and in 1911 she was aged 32 and from Quebec. (He was 12 years older, and from Ireland, arriving in Canada as a boy in 1880. He sold china and glassware on Granville Street, and before that on Westminster Avenue). There were three boys, aged 10, 6 and 4. The family moved to Haro Street when the new building was developed, and Richard’s china shop moved to the main floor. In early December 1913 there was a 25% sale in the china store; an unusual time of year for such an event. The advertisements explained that ” In order to close the estate of the late R. G. Buchanan we must have $15,000 in 30 days”. Presumably things worked out for the business: in the next few years Mrs R G Buchanan was running the business, and she lived in one of the apartments above the store. In 1917 Stephen Ira DeBou (a 33 year old unmarried contractor, from New Brunswick) married Esther Permelia Buchanan, a 39 year old widow, daughter of Thomas B Hyndman of Ottawa. In 1921 they were living on Nelson Street; there were three of Stephen’s stepsons still at home; Esther’s fourth son, Richard was born around 1912. Her father, Thomas, was also living with them. We’ve see Mr. Hyndman’s work in the city in an earlier post. He developed some houses on Robson Street, and had worked for R G Buchanan before becoming vice-president of Woodwards Stores, and then running a real estate business. Esther died, aged 61, in 1940, and Stephen in 1964.

There was a Piggly Wiggly store next door in the building in 1928, and upstairs the rooms became the Hotel Biltmore. The grocery store closed very quickly, reopening as the Leong Market. In 1955 Safeway and the Biltmore Hotel were still in operation, but the food store was now Tom’s Market.