Archive for the ‘Still Standing’ Category

Howard Hotel – East Hastings Street

We looked at this Downtown Eastside hotel in an early post that featured it when it was named the Empire Hotel. In this 1935 image it was called the Howard, with no indication in the street directory of who was running it. There were several retail units, with Gaining Tailors at the eastern end, then a cleaners – BC Hat Cleaners, and next door Dick Sun, who was a merchant tailor making suits to order. In the window of the hotel entrance was a poster for the Beacon Theatre.

It was built in 1913 and designed by H A Hodgson for Seabold and Roberts. The building permit suggests it was built as apartments for $60,000, although it appeared in the 1913 street directory as the Hotel Seward, and by 1914 had already had the name changed to the Howard Hotel, run by W P Roberts. In 1918 the Daily World reported the result of arbitration on the rent for the hotel, and illustrated how property values crashed from their peak in the early 1910s. “Judgment in the arbitration to determine the rental value of the Howard Hotel was handed down by the arbitrators, Mr. Justice Clement, F. G. T. Lucas and J. S. Gall, the rent being placed at $75 per month. The lease, which started In 1912 at $500 per month, provided for a readjustment at tho end of a five-year period.”

There turns out to have been far more to this story. In the early 1900s this was a house, owned by Dr Eady Stevenson, who had retired from Victoria. In 1901 Dr. Stevenson was shown aged 63, living alone, born in Ontario. He had practiced in the US for many years, having been the second doctor to offer Homeopathic remedies in Los Angeles. He had also lived in Oakland, and had arrived in California travelling overland with a party searching for gold.

Before moving to Vancouver he lived in Victoria; in 1885 he published ‘Religion or Rum: or, The Influence of Religion on the Use of Alcoholic Liquors as a Beverage’. The book was based on one of his lectures; he travelled around speaking on a variety of topics, and practiced temperance, although ‘not intemperantly’.  He died in 1909, leaving a will that had some unusual requirements. Although some of his bequest went to his brother and nephew in Toronto, he appointed trustees, headed by the mayor, who were responsible for finding developers willing to build on his two East Hastings properties, with at least a four storey commercial structure. The rent would be reset every five years, and the money was to support “Vancouver women of good character, who were not connected with any church.” His relatives argued (unsuccessfully) that this showed that he was of unsound mind and guided by spiritualism. “The Judge held that the evidence brought forward in no way established these allegations, and said that Dr. Stevenson’s sanity had been unjustly attacked.”

The hotel was built where Dr. Stevenson’s house was located, and initially brought in rent of $600, which in turn was distributed at the rate of $20 to 20 women in Vancouver and four or five outside the city. This helped the city’s relief department for six years, until the rent collected was dramatically reduced following the arbitration referenced above. Eventually the trustees sold the property that had been developed, the Howard Hotel, but the remaining site held by the Trustees had never been developed and tax arrears mounted, with no income to cover those costs. In 1923 the land was auctioned to cover the outstanding tax bill.

The Howard is still standing today as a privately owned SRO Hotel.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Hot P75

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Posted December 6, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Mah Society – 137 East Pender Street

This Chinatown society building is one of the best-preserved, and now   looking even better after a recent makeover. The work included restoring the elaborate pediment, and the top floor balcony that had been lost many years before 1985, when our ‘before’ picture was shot. The building was constructed in 1913, and while it was located in Chinatown, it was developed by William Dick, (possibly William Dick junior, who ran a successful clothing company, owned British Columbia Estates, a local real estate development company, and later was a Conservative Member of the BC Legislature for Vancouver City, elected in 1928). He hired H B Watson to design the $30,000 apartment rooms, with a commercial space on the main floor, built by R G Wilson & Son. When it was first built this was a four storey building, and if you ignore the top floor, it looks like many other buildings of the era, and had no discernible ‘Chinese’ character.

Because it was located in Chinatown, the first tenant was Chinese. Mr. Dick spent another $400 in ‘repairs’ (but probably really the fitting out of the commercial space) built by the Kwong Fong Co only six months after the initial building permit. Kwong Yee Lung Company, a grocer, occupied the main floor while the upper floors were the Ming Lee Rooms. with thirty nine rooms on the other three floors where tenants shared bathrooms and kitchens. There were various changes to the building, including a 1917 alteration designed and carried out by W H Chow.

In 1921 the Mah Family Society raised $45,000 to buy the building, and a further $5,650 was spent to add the fifth floor (although the permit was for $7,000). This was built by Chen Yi, but the Mah Gim Do Hung hired English born architect E J Boughen to design the addition. The Society, one of a number of branches across Canada and in the US, moved their offices out of the building before 1960, and today the Mah Benevolent Society Of Vancouver occupy premises on East Hastings. The upper floors still have 36 SRO rooms which in the image were the Ah Chew Rooms and more recently have been known as the Asia Hotel. The fifth floor still houses the society meeting hall. The main floor in the picture was the Kwangtung Restaurant, later becoming a Buddhist vegetarian restaurant, and today houses the Jade Dynasty, one of Chinatown’s remaining Cantonese dim sum restaurants.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-2382

Posted November 22, 2018 by ChangingCity in Chinatown, Still Standing

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First Baptist Church – Burrard Street (2)

We saw a very poor ‘before’ image of the First Baptist Church on Burrard a few years ago. Here is a better image, that captures the church before the dramatic change that’s coming to this location. The church has partnered with Westbank to create an expanded church hall, non-market housing, and a luxury condo tower at the back of the church that will pay for a full seismic upgrade of the building, estimated to cost over $25m.

The church was completed in 1911, designed by Burke, Horwood and White in a Gothic Revival style. It replaced an earlier church in Downtown., that in turn replaced one further east. In the image, from 1920, there were no street trees in this stretch of Burrard Street.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-1437

Posted November 1, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Hotel Abbotsford – West Pender Street

We’ve caught a glimpse of the Hotel Abbotsford in an earlier post, but this is the first look at the hotel’s history. It’s rare in being one of the few early hotels that still serves that function – the vast majority have been converted to single room occupancy rental rooms. It was developed by J M McLuckie, a Scottish builder and sometime developer. His contracting business had its yard here until the end of the Great War.

Mr. McLuckie designed and built this $70,000 hotel in 1911, with completion in 1913. When it opened in March of that year, it was described in the Daily World as a $300,000 investment, which may have been an exaggeration (or the building permit might have been wildly optimistic). The report noted that Mr McLuckie had designed the building himself, and had erected over 200 other buildings in the city. The hotel also contained “an elegant cafe and grill, a continental chef, and It will be conducted as a first class hotel on the European plan. It was furnished throughout by the Hudson’s Bay Company, under the able direction of Mr. Joseph F. Marino. Mr. W. Drinnan. experienced in hotel management, will conduct the new establishment.” Walter Drinnan didn’t keep the job long; by 1914 F J Wallingford had taken over.

In December 1912 Mr. McLuckie had been unable to obtain a licence, as there were none available to transfer, but his application was allowed to be held over until a new liquor board had been appointed, and we assume he was successful at that point as there’s a postcard showing the hotel’s ‘refreshment parlor’.

J M McLuckie remained owner of the hotel until his death in 1927, and it was sold by his son in 1929. The picture was taken at some point a few years before it was sold. It still stands today as the Days Inn Hotel, missing from the city’s Heritage Register but still a fine example of a 100 year old building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Hot N40, SFU Digital collection MSC130-5919-01

Posted October 29, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Murray Hotel – Hornby Street

The Murray has been on Hornby since it was completed in 1915. It appears to have had a slow gestation – Fred S Murray owned the site since at least 1910, when J A Matheson took out a lien against him for a debt of $115 (probably a typo for contractor J P Matheson). Unless there were two people called Fred S Murray (which is quite possible, although only one was listed in the street directory), he was a teller at the Royal Bank of Canada that year. In 1911 he was living on Denman Street, and a year later he was still there, and shown as being employed by the Real Estate Listing Exchange (appropriately based in the Exchange Building on West Hastings). His 1911 census entry shows he was only 25 years old, had been born in Canada (although no province is indicated) and he was a broker. (Other records show he was born in Bridgewater, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia on 1 March 1886). In 1911 he was already practicing to operate a rooming house, as he had at least seven lodgers in his home.

That year F S Murray obtained a permit for the $65,000 building described in the Daily Building Record as ‘Apartments/rooms; four-storey brick store & rooming house’. E Workman was shown as both architect and builder, and that’s confirmed by an August 1912 issue of Architect, Builder & Engineer, who noted Plans have been filed for a 4-storey brick and concrete store and apartment building, at 1117 Hornby Street, for F. S. Murray, to cost $65,000. E. Workman, 42 18th Avenue E, architect”. (A suggestion, that we initially thought correct, that Sharp and Thompson designed the building is almost certainly inaccurate).

Ernest Workman was trying to reinvent himself after he was arrested in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1907, charged with printing nearly $20,000 in conterfeit gold certificates which he had planned to bring back to Winnipeg, where he practiced architecture. (He stayed in Vancouver for only a couple of years while the development boom of the early 1910s was at its height).

Mr. Murray changed jobs again, presumably as hard times hit the real estate business. F S Murray and Co were shown as contractors, with an office in the Bower Building on Granville Street in 1913 and 1914, and in 1914 Mr. Murray was shown living on Robson Street. In 1915 F S Murray was listed as a traveler with United Paper Products, and then was no longer listed in the city; from references in the city’s newspapers it appears that he went to fight in the Great War. There’s no sign that Mr. Murray returned to Vancouver; after the war he returned to Nova Scotia, where he got married in Halifax in 1923. At that time he appears to have been a surplus dealer.

The rooming house initially never opened; it’s listed through the war years as vacant, and in 1919 Great West Permanent Loan (presumably owners of the building, or at least a financial interest in the property) obtained a $1,200 permit for repairs, to remodel the building for the R. N. W. M. P. (the Royal North West Mounted Police) for their new barracks of the Vancouver squadron. The main floor became stables, with offices in the upper floors. The RCMP use of the building was brief – in 1922 the Murray Hotel was listed for the first time, with Mrs. A W Smith listed as proprietor. Our picture shows the building as it looked in 1925, when it offered furnished rooms. As far as we can tell Fred St Clair Murray moved to California in 1934 with his wife and three children, becoming a US citizen in 1937 and dying there in 1958, and being buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills.

The building has recently had the façade repaired and restored (in conjunction with the new condo building constructed next door), a new storefront has returned the building’s appearance to its earlier design, and the upper floors continue to offer low cost housing as a privately owned single room occupancy hotel.

Image source, City of Vancouver Archives Hot N6

Posted October 22, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Helmcken Street – 400 block, north side

This is one of our favourite images of Downtown Vancouver in the Archives collection. Shot over 50 years ago, in 1966, the residential nature of much of the Downtown South area was still very much in evidence, but off in the haze in the distance the headquarters building for BC Electric show that indeed, you are Downtown. Remarkably, three of those houses on Helmcken Street are still there today, and perhaps more remarkably there are now five houses here, (hidden among the dramatically expanded tree cover).

Originally Wellington Brehaut built five identical houses here in 1907. They were probably initially leased rather than sold off, although over time they became freehold dwellings. By 1966 two had been lost, but as part of the condo tower built on Richards Street, two houses from further up the street (1062 and 1080 Richards) were relocated around the corner to complete the row. We looked at the history of those buildings, and the ‘hold-out’ owner of one of them, Linda Rupa, in an earlier post.

Wellington W Brehaut was a contractor who lived in the West End, in a house he shared with the builder of the house, D M Fraser. They were also partners in their contracting business. He was a carpenter from PEI, and seems to done well, from being a lodger in a rooming house in 1901 to owning his own home (still standing) on Nicola Street by 1908. He was married in 1904, to Florence Morrison, who was four years younger, from London, Ontario. Her death was recorded in the newspaper in 1911, and Wellington died in 1916 aged only 45 while in Los Angeles, although he was buried in Mountain View Cemetery. He was obviously a well respected Freemason; the Daily World reported that “An emergency meeting of the Lodge will be held in the Masonic Temple, corner of Seymour and Georgia Streets, on Thursday, May 11 at 2 p.m., for the purpose of conducting the funeral ceremonies of our late Bro. Wellington W. Brehaut”.

Another piece added a fascinating detail to Mr. Brehaut’s relatively short life story: “Some fifteen months ago Mr. Brehaut went to California in the hopes of improving his health, but without permanent results, and his many friends in this city will learn with regret of his decease. The body Is being brought to this city for interment, the funeral, which will be under the auspices of – Cascade Lodge, A. F. & A. M , of which the deceased was a member, being held on Thursday afternoon next. The late Mr. Brehaut was a popular member of the Terminal Club. Some six years ago Mr. Brehaut was the central figure in a sensational hold – up case in the city, he being held up by an armed man, with whom he grappled. His assailant was sentenced to a long term which he is at present serving.”

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-41

Posted October 15, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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139 East Cordova Street

This building, with its fancy brickwork patterns, dates back to 1912 when it was built by Dominion Construction at a cost of $22,000. The developer was A C McNeil, and helpfully, we don’t need to look for him in the city’s street directories as he was recorded on the building permit as ” (of Montana, USA)”. He hired J P Matheson as his architect on the building that would open as the Harbour Rooms, run by Mrs. Essie Thompson. There had been a house on the lot before this development was built.

Quite why Mr. McNeil chose to build here is unclear, but there is a Butte resident who regularly visited the west coast, including Washington and Oregon. In 1917 A C McNeill was recorded as having taken a 1,300 road trip from Butte to ‘Spokane and the west’ with his wife and daughter – a remarkable distance for a road trip at the time. He visited Vancouver Island in 1929 and seems to have been a hotelier later in the 1930s, in Butte.

By the 1920s the spelling of the name had taken on the US preference – the Harbor Rooms – run by Mrs Ella Kelly in 1920, and Charles T Berryman from 1921 (who arrived in the city after the 1921 census). He also ran the Harbor Bar downstairs. By 1930 the name had changed to the New Harbor Rooms, run by H Anderson, and by 1934 the New Harbour Rooms, run by C Traversy. (The new art deco black retail façade might have been added around this time, although it could have been in 1945 when the building’s name was changed). In 1938 The New Harbor Rooms were run by Uda Zenkichi. In 1942 there was still a Japanese proprietor, H Iwasaki, but a year later he would have been interned, and Quon Hon had taken over. In 1945 the proprietorship changed to Pang Mock, and the name to the United Rooms. It still had that name when this 1985 image was taken, and today when the rooms are managed as a privately owned SRO rooming house by the Shun Chi Company.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-2450

Posted September 20, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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