Archive for the ‘Still Standing’ Category

Thurlow and Melville Street – north side

This is another early 1980s image showing a part of Downtown where relatively little change has taken place in nearly 40 years. The image is from after 1979, and we’re standing at the corner of Melville looking north on Thurlow. On the left is a 1975 office building of 11 floors designed by Waisman Architectural Group. Beyond it is a 1965 eight storey office called the Philips Building. Across the lane is an orange brick clad building known by its address, 1112 West Pender, completed in 1960; it was designed by McCarter, Nairne & Partners. The office at the end of the block was developed by R C Baxter in 1966, and is another Waisman Architectural Group design.

All four are still standing today, although they represent the more modest density buildings that are now being redeveloped as larger, more energy efficient towers. There are two buildings visible today on the west side of the street that weren’t around in the 1980s. In front of the Baxter building is the white tower of the Delta Pinnacle hotel, built in 2000, while beyond it there’s now a green-clad condo tower designed by IBI/HB and completed in 2012 called Three Harbour Green.

The dark glazing closest to us on the right is Four Bentall Centre, the tallest in the Bentall cluster at 35 floors and completed in 1981, designed by Frank W Musson and Associates. Beyond it is 1090 West Pender. It’s a 1971 twelve storey office building designed by Gerald Hamilton for Dawson Developments, and with the parkade alongside it’s in the process of being demolished. It will be replaced by a 31 storey office tower with an underground parkade. Beyond it is Manulife Place, a 22-storey office completed in 1991.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-1403

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Beatty Street – 700 block

Two of the warehouse buildings seen in this 1981 image are still standing, and one has disappeared. At the far end is a 1914 building, designed by Dalton and Eveleigh for F T Cope. George Snider & Brethour built it at a cost of $75,000. In the middle is a building costing $140,000 for the National Drug Co, and also built by George Snider & Brethour a year earlier, designed by H S Griffith. Thomas Hooper was hired to make $1,500 of alterations in 1914. With replacement windows it looks much more recent, and since our 1981 image was taken it’s had a blue tile makeover.

The third warehouse was the most expensive. In 1912 a permit was issued for a building to cost $150,000. Designed by Parr, McKenzie & Day for John W Gibb it was to be occupied by The Canadian Fairbanks Company.

Cope & Sons were electrical suppliers. Frederick T Cope was company president, an Englishman (from Oxford) who emigrated to Manitoba at 19, and arrived in Vancouver in 1895 when he was 35, and established the business two years later. In 1914, when they built the new warehouse, Frank R Cope was company treasurer and Bert F Cope company secretary. In 1911 both were still at home with Fred and Marjory, their mother, who was born in Ontario, but had their own homes three years later.

The National Drug and Chemical Company of Canada started in business in 1905, initially in Montreal, then rapidly across the country through expansion and buying out other businesses. David Bole was already a successful drugstore operator from Manitoba, and established the national wholesaling and manufacturing business with six million dollars of capital. State-of-the-art factories were established for both pharmaceuticals (in Montreal) and by 1908 125 items, including cough syrup, skin cream, shampoo, and toothpaste were manufactured in Toronto. The Vancouver distribution centre was opened soon after Calgary and Regina. In 1920 National Drug reorganized its administrative structure, as business had increased by 250 per cent in the previous 10 years. The business still operated here in the 1950s, and is still in business today as Canada’s leading drug wholesaler (now part of US business McKesson).

The Canadian Fairbanks Company was created in 1905 by Henry Fuller, who bought out the Canadian interests of the US parent company, at the time the largest machinery and mill supply company in Canada. They immediately occupied a new warehouse on Water Street developed by McLennan & McFeely. They had a warehouse and machine shop in the building. Within ten years they were looking for larger premises, and moved into the Beatty Street warehouse.

The developer, John Gibb, was a broker with an office in the Rogers Building and a home in the West End. His father, David Gibb, was a retired contractor with an excellent reputation. A 1915 court case shows his son’s business scruples weren’t quite as pure. It referred back to the 1912 deal with Canadian Fairbanks to occupy the building, with lease payments of $242,000 over 10 years, (starting at $22,000 for each of the first 3 years).  The building had to be ready for 1 August 1913, and if delayed no rent was due. Walter Meuller was hired to build the warehouse for $106,000. It became clear in May 1913 that Mr. Gibb was suffering “financial embarrassment” (to quote the judge), and it also transpired that he did not own the land outright, as he had claimed, but rather held an equity stake. That meant banks wouldn’t advance him a loan to complete the building. Mr. Gibb actually needed over $200,000 to complete the building and obtain tiitle – he had a deal with Harvey Haddon to advance $106,000 on completion, but that wasn’t going to solve his problem. He was willing to sit back and seemed to think that, as the agreed rent was a bargain, he might get out of his predicament. Fairbanks weren’t willing to wait, and paid the contractors to finish the job, in October.

This was highly unusual, and as the judge noted “Failure of Gibb to satisfactorily carry on construction or to complete within the time specified did not entitle the plaintiff to enter on the premises and proceed with the work.” Trustees were appointed immediately after the 1 August date was passed, and the interest in the property was transferred to David Gibb, John’s father. A Fairbanks manager was initially a trustee, but his head office forced him to withdraw, and launched the case to try to obtain a significant sum that they had paid to complete the building. The judge didn’t agree, but imposed the $20 per day pre-agreed fine for missing the August 1st deadline, and another $800 because the building didn’t use equipment sold by Fairbanks in its construction, as the lease agreement stipulated. Fairbanks also received their costs.

Despite this rocky start, Canadian Fairbanks were still occupying the building in the 1950s. It was cleared to become the plaza in front of the BC Place stadium, constructed in the early 1980s, allowing new windows in the side of the National Drug Co building. The Terry Fox memorial, designed by Douglas Coupland, is located here. The other warehouses have been converted to office use; one is home to a private school.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E18.04

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East Cordova Street – west from Jackson Avenue

This 1970s shot shows the buildings on the corner of Jackson Avenue, with Oppenheimer Park down the street on the right. The four storey building on the corner dates back to 1911 when it was developed by Frank Vandall. He first appeared in the city directories in 1909, managing the Roseleaf Rooms on Westminster Avenue (Main Street), although he was giving Vancouver as his location in legal filings in 1908. He moved on, and a year later was managing rooms at 143 Dunlevy Avenue. His own building, listed as the Vandall Block, was designed by W F Gardiner a year later, and cost $80,000 to build. According to the permit, Mr Vandall built it himself, but we know that Mr. Gardiner let the contracts to the various specialist sub-trades, so it appears that no overall contractor was hired.

Mr Vandall proved to be elusive, missing earlier census records and not showing up in 1911. In 1895, Frank Vandall, a miner, was living in Revelstoke, and in 1898 he had two partners in a placer mine on French Creek. In 1906 and 1907 there was a Frank Vandall working as agent with William Moody, surveying and marking timber to cut on the BC coast. In 1908 Frank Vandell was a land agent in Vancouver. It’s likely that his absence from the 1911 census was due to his death; a Frank E Vandell died in August 1911 and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery. In 1912 his widow was recorded in the street directory, and while she was missing from the 1913 directory, was running the Roof Garden Rooms on Jackson in 1914, and for several years after that. Frank was only 45 when he died, and had been born in Ontario.

We think another Frank Ernest Vandall, who was born in March 1911 in Seattle, and died in 1957 in Vancouver, aged 46 was almost certainly Frank and Nellie’s son; His father was also named Frank, and his mother was formerly Nellie Ernestine Bishop. Frank junior was buried in Mountain View with his parents. Nellie had died in Capitol Hill in Seattle in 1943, and was also buried in Mountain View cemetery next to Frank. She had been born in Dublin, and left a sister in Ireland and two more living in England.

Over the years the rooms (which have their entrance on Jackson) were run by a number of different proprietors. The corner store changed too: in 1918 D D Radakovich ran a grocery store, and Nellie E Vandall was running the rooms upstairs. (The building to the south, which occupied the other half of the two lots, and can’t be seen in this image, was run by Japanese proprietor, Sam Takao). In 1922 A H McLean was running the Roof Garden Rooms, and by 1925 Mrs. Marriott. The corner store by then was part of Japantown, run by Shimoda Sugakichi. By 1940 the rooms had become the B C Rooms, run by T Sakamoto, but the Japanese connection was severed as the entire community were moved to internment camps away from the coast. In 1942 Mrs M Mcintosh was running the rooms, and next door were the Jackson Rooms, run by E Karlson. The two rooming houses continued operations for many years, (and are still operating today), although at some point they became under the same ownership as a single legal lot.

The building closer to us, with the bay windows, was developed in 1909, although some part of it had been completed earlier. Mrs. Hannah Peterson added a frame addition that year that she had claimed (on the permit) to have designed herself. She ran a lodging house, but unfortunately for us, had moved out by 1911 when the census was collected, and Frederick Frey had replaced her. She might have been the Swedish Hanna Peterson, who had arrived in 1889. We know nothing about Frederick, because only his name was recorded – no other details were noted, so we don’t know where he came from or how old he was. The rooming house is also now a non-market housing building called The Vivian, run as transitional women’s housing by Raincity.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-349

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Granville Street – 1200 block, west side

This 1981 view of the west side of Granville’s 1200 block shows Oak windshields and custom auto glass on the corner of Drake Street. Today it’s the wildlife thrift store, but it started life in 1917 as an auto garage, occupied initially by Dixon’s Motors, who sold Ford cars. The auto glass use was here in 1978, under a different business name, and we looked at that use more closely and at the building next door in an earlier post. It was built by Reinhart Hoffmeister in 1912, who probably also developed the next two buildings to the north (no longer standing today). He operated his electrical machinery and supplies company from 1271 Granville in the 1910s. In 1978 it was a piano store, and when the company moved here in the mid 1950s it was run by Elizabeth Williams, (listed for decades as ‘widow of W R Williams’).

The next 25 foot wide 2-storey building is a mystery in terms of it’s developer; in 1920 it was owned by W A Clark, who also owned and developed the next building north in 1911. We suspect he may also have built 1267 Granville as well. The three buildings were replaced in 2002 by Candela Place, a new non-market housing building designed by Burrowes Huggins Architects for the City of Vancouver, with 63 self-contained rooms managed by the Coast Foundation..

The more substantial 5-storey ‘brick apartment house’, designed by Parr and Fee and built by Peter Tardiff at a cost of $60,000 was developed by W A Clark. He was a real estate broker, who also built the Albany Rooms (the Regal Rooms today) on the 1000 block of Granville in 1910, with the same architect and builder. He was from Ontario, and was one of two William Clark’s involved in real estate in the city, which must have been confusing at times. In 1911 he lived with his wife, May, their five daughters, and a servant, Tanda Ishira, who was from Japan.

When it first opened this was the Newport Rooms, although more recently it became the Granville Hotel. Acquired by the City Of Vancouver in 2003 for $2.8m, it’s still run as an SRO Hotel, the Granville Residence. The city paid over $4m more to repair the building, including rebuilding the façade which was in a pretty poor state in the early 2000s. The room count reduced from 100 to 82, and each is now self-contained with bathrooms, small cooking areas and averaging 160 sq. ft. in area.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W00.09

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The Marlborough, 1111 Jervis Street

This 1928 image shows the just about completed Marlborough Apartments. They replaced a house that stood here for around 30 years. The Archives caption says the building is on the corner of Jervis and Broughton – which is impossible as those are parallel streets – actually it’s on the corner of Pendrell and Jervis. It was designed, built and owned by Oliver Lightheart, one of six brothers who all lived in Vancouver, and developed apartment buildings throughout the Downtown and West End. The family were from Nottawasaga, Simcoe in Ontario, (on Lake Huron), and Oliver was the youngest son, born in 1888.

In 1921 he was living with his PEI-born wife Margaret and their one-year-old son Lloyd, and their servant, Louise Bestwick, who had been born in BC. Oliver was listed as a contractor, builder. At the age of 31, (a year after the census) he built a $200,000 apartment building on Bute Street, The Berkeley, also still standing today. The Marlborough followed six years later, not long after he had moved to the $8,000 house on Cypress Street that he had built for Mrs. M Lightheart, (presumably his wife).

Ninety years later the building looks almost identical, and continues to provide rental homes in the heart of the West End.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu N263

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Posted June 27, 2019 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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West Cordova from Abbott (2)

We saw a view westwards from Abbott along Cordova from 1889 in an earlier post. That was the south side of Cordova – here’s the north side seen in a more recent image – it’s an undated postcard that we guess is from the late 1900s.

The block on the left is G W Grant’s first known project in Vancouver “commercial block for W B Wilson, 1887”. It was illustrated in an 1887 promotional publication “Vancouver – Pacific Coast Terminus of the CPR”. William Bell Wilson was from Nova Scotia, and he lived in St John New Brunswick before moving to British Columbia in 1862. He worked in Victoria as an accountant, and Kamloops as a merchant. He married, had two children, and then became a widower when his wife died in 1879 when the children were aged 1 and 3. He was obviously successful financially, owning at least four lots in the city in 1886. In 1887 he was listed as a real estate agent in this building, and that year the city’s handbook listed him as a ‘Principal Property Owner’ with $25,000 of assets, one of the more significant landowners. By 1891 the block was owned by Rand Brothers, and Mr. Wilson’s finances had suffered, and he became Collector of Customs in Rossland, and then Trail.

He died, of dropsy, (these days it would probably be identified as edema due to congestive heart failure), aged 55, in Spokane. The Trail Creek News published his obituary “Mr. Wilson went to Spokane in July, for treatment. From the first no hopes had been entertained of his recovery. Last week his son was telegraphed for, and was with his father when he died.

Mr. Wilson was appointed collector of customs at this outport last November, at the time the outport was created. Prior to that time he had been with the Rossland office. Of his previous history the Rosslander says: “Mr. Wilson was a pioneer of the province, and is well known to most of the earlier residents.  During the C.P.R. construction he was a partner with J.A. Mara, ex-M.P. at Kamloops, where they built three steamers for conveying supplies from Tacoma to the eastern end of the Onderdonk section at the head of navigation on Shuswap Lake. These did a very large carrying business. Mr. Wilson went to Vancouver when that city was young and owned valuable property there, but he became interested through further investments in Anacortes, and with the depression in that city lost considerable money. Mr. Wilson had few intimate friends, but a wide circle of acquaintances who admired his many good qualities and learn with sincere regret of his death.”

A man in Mr. Wilson’s position has little opportunity to make friends, but the writer, with many others in Trail, knew him well and had the friendliest feelings and the greatest of respect for the dead officer.”

Today the base of a 31-storey condo building, part of the Woodwards redevelopment. occupies the site.

Today the Runkle Block sits on the north west corner, but in 1901 it was the two-storey wooden Cosmopolitan Restaurant. In 1910, according to a building permit, J C Runkle hired Sharp and Thompson to design the building standing today. It cost $28,000 and was built by Robert McLean. The developer was a total mystery – although we have identified what appears to be a likely subject. The initials for ‘J C Runkle’ come from the building permit, but there’s a cartouche on the building with the initials ‘J R’.

Runkle is a relatively unusual name, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find the developer. In fact, in 1911 there was only one person in Canada listed in the census with the surname ‘Runkle’. Fortunately for us, he lived in Vancouver. Unfortunately, he was called Gordon Runkle, so J C Runkle didn’t match. He had lived in Vancouver from 1906, and died in Nanaimo in 1943.  He was married in the city in 1914, and he had the same architects design a house on Marine Drive in 1922. His father, John D Runkle was a resident of Brookline, Massachusetts, the President of MIT (the second in the institution’s history), and also a chairman of the Brookline School Committee and an early advocate of mathematics and science. Gordon had an older brother (sixteen years older) named John C Runkle. Our guess is that Gordon, at the height of Vancouver’s property boom, managed the development on behalf of his brother – an absentee American east coast investor. In 1900 John worked for the National Coal Tar Co, in 1910 he was Vice President of a manufacturing company, and in 1930 he was an executive of a lumber supply company, living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1908 he bought an old house dating back to 1765, had it moved, and hired architect Lois Lilley Howe to reconstruct and remodel the house.

Only one of the three buildings looks the same today as it did in the early 1900s. That’s part of the Cook Block – the western-most 4 storey element is said to have been completed in 1892. That part of the building has bay windows on two floors. Next door was a three storey building that has had an additional floor added to make it a matching four storeys today. They were developed by Edward Cook (who also constructed the Wilson Block on the left, laid the foundations of Christ Church, and was the builder of the first courthouse among many other projects). We don’t know if Edward hired an architect – and if so, who he chose.

In the 1891 census Edward was shown aged 35, born in Ontario, with a wife from Quebec, and four children under 8; Edna, May, Winifred and baby Wallace (listed as Douglas a decade later). In 1901 his wife is recorded as Miri, (actually she was Maria) and the four children now have three siblings, Beatrice, Francis and Elsie. His wife’s sister Elibeth (sic) Douglas, and son-in-law, Thomas Forman were shown living with the family (Maria and Elizabeth had a brother in the city; Frank, of Kelly, Douglas & Co). Edward arrived from Manitoba in 1886, and built a house for his family, that was burned down before they could arrive. They were travelling from Quebec, overland through Chicago , Portland and Tacoma, and then by steamer to Victoria and then Vancouver. They arrived days after the fire and their first home in Vancouver was a tent on Carrall Street, near this location. Edward was elected an alderman from 1901 to 1905, and was a very successful resident of the city. Maria died in the spring of 1940, and Edward four days later.

Beyond the Cook Block was the Eagle Hotel, which was added to in 1906, helping us date the picture. The Eagle was lost when Woodwards built their parking garage. The upper floors of the Cook Block were, for a while, residential, known as the Marble Rooms, but they closed in 1974. Today the three structures of the Cook Block and the Runkle Block (all three are only half the depth of the lot, so sixty feet deep) have been combined into a single building, with a restaurant on the corner and commercial uses on the upper floors.

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Posted June 24, 2019 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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Stanley and New Fountain Hotels – West Cordova Street

This pair of long-standing Downtown Eastside Hotels have been closed for a while, and the structure behind the facades is in process of being demolished. They’re soon getting a new ten storey building that will replace the 103 welfare rate rooms and shelter beds that were in the old hotels with 80 new self-contained units (that will still lease at welfare rates) and an additional 62 market rental units.

Looking more closely at this 1940 Vancouver Public Library image it’s possible to see that there seems to be a third building sandwiched between the Stanley, and the two storey New Fountain. That seems not really the case – or at least, the permits we can find suggest a slightly different history. The New Fountain, (the shorter building on the left of the picture), was (supposedly) built in 1899, and there were two hotels built to the east of that completed in 1907, with The Russ Hotel occupying the middle three lots and the Hotel Iroquois run by Samuel Albert on the two lots closest to us.

Both buildings were probably built as part of the investment portfolio of Evans, Coleman and Evans, merchants and shipping agents, considered for many years to be one of the leading commercial firms in the province. They hired Grant and Henderson to design the Russ and Iroquois building in 1906, and the hotels opened in 1907. In the Contract record they were described as ‘white pressed brick with cut stone trimmings’.

There were buildings here rebuilt immediately after the 1886 fire. These were initially wooden, almost all built within a few weeks of the fire and then gradually redeveloped with brick and stone fronted replacements over the next few years. We saw what the street looked like in 1888 in an earlier post. By 1889 in this location there were 2-storey buildings with a saloon, an undertakers that also operated a furniture manufacturing business, a grocers, clothing store and bookstore, all with offices and lodgings above. Only three years after the fire, several had already been rebuilt with brick facades. In 1891 the saloon was called the Grotto Beer Hall, run by Swan and Kapplet, numbered as 35 Cordova. A year later it was renumbered as 27, and Edward Schwan had taken over. He was still running the hotel in 1894, but it had been renamed the New Fountain Hotel. The Old Fountain Saloon was two doors down, and that situation continued for a few years. (Some directories listed him as Edward Schwahn, and others as Schwann). He also applied for the licence of the Cabinet Hotel in 1896. The 1901 census called him Schwan, and tells us he was from Germany, and aged 41. His wife Bertha was 33, and also German, and they had arrived in Canada in 1888, where five of their children had been born. Frank, who was the oldest, had been born in the US, so presumably the family had moved north.

There are several confusing aspects of the hotel’s history that we haven’t straightened out. The heritage statement says it was built in 1899, but the name goes back to 1894, and Edward Schwan ran it from 1890 (when he renamed it the Grotto) until at least 1902, and he was replaced by Charles Schwahn by 1905, although the street directory still linked him to the establishment. If the building was completed in 1899, it replaced an earlier building with an identical name, and the same proprietor, (which is perfectly possible).

A second confusion comes from the 1901 and 1903 insurance maps, which call it the Mountain Hotel. We’re pretty certain that’s just an error; there was a Mountain View Hotel – but that was on East Cordova. We think that the hotel operation was run by Mr. Schwan, but the building was owned by Evans, Coleman and Evans. They carried out work on the storefronts in 1902, and then commissioned $13,000 of major alterations in 1909, designed by Parr and Fee. In 1901 only half the building (at least on the main floor) was used as a hotel, while to the west were three store fronts for a drugstore, liquor store and a jewelers.

Evans, Coleman and Evans were three Englishmen, brothers Percy and Ernest Evans, and their cousin, George Coleman. They arrived in 1888, and built up a business empire that included a cement plant, wharves, timber and coal import and export yards and a building supply business. They were often the successful supplier of cast iron pipe to the City of Vancouver as the expanded the sewers and water mains. In 1910 they sold the business to a group of prominent business people including William Farrell and Frank Barnard, although they may have retained their interest in the hotels, which also included the Manitoba, also on Cordova.

There were two earlier hotels among the buildings that were demolished and replaced by the Russ and the Iroquois in 1906. The Elite Hotel was closest to us, and the Hotel Norden, run by Peter Larsen, was in the middle.

In 1911 the Stanley name replaced the Hotel Iroquois – (which was also the name of one of the steamships that often docked at Evans, Coleman and Evans docks). Next door was a branch of the Royal Bank of Canada, and then the Russ Hotel, and Al’s Russ Café. Wo Hing’s tailor store and George Graff’s Fountain Cigar Store had storefronts before the Fountain Hotel entrance, and Harry’s Café. A year later the Russ Hotel had disappeared, and the Stanley Hotel’s rooms included both properties.

Property developer and agent William Holden may have had an interest in the Iroquois Hotel, as in 1911 there was a permit to him hiring architect H B Watson to carry out $4,000 of alterations to the hotel, presumably preparing for it to reopen as the Stanley. Watson had his offices in the Holden Building on East Hastings. Holden also paid for some more work on 35 W Cordova a year later. The Building Record newspaper described the work to remodel the Hotel Iroquois to be even more extensive, costing $8,000. Evans Coleman and Evans, who commissioned the building, had further work carried out on the premises by Thomas Hunter in 1917.

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