Archive for the ‘Still Standing’ Category

Winch Building – West Hastings Street

R V Winch developed one of the largest and most prestigious office buildings of its day. Five storeys, over a basement, designed in the Beaux-Arts Classical style, it was completed in 1911. Mr. Winch, originally from Ontario, started in the city as a meat and game dealer with a store on Cordova Street. We looked at his second retail location on that street in 1890. He had hired Thomas Hooper to design a retail store in 1889, and he returned to Hooper and Watkins in 1907 to design this building. Construction took 3 years, was completed in 1911, and cost a reported $700,000. It was described as “an entirely modern Class A office building, the first of its kind in British Columbia” It’s something of a departure from some of Thomas Hooper’s other buildings – here he was given a generous budget (initially costs were estimated at $380,000) so he designed a stone-clad building (albeit on a steel and reinforced concrete frame) that would look at home in London or Paris.

There was no cost-cutting on the interiors either; the interior woodwork was carried out by Stewart & Co of Guelph, Ontario, although most of the other trades were local. It was one of the earliest reinforced concrete buildings to be erected in the city, closely following the adjacent Post Office, (also completed in 1911, which is probably when our BC Archives image was taken) The six-storey building featured 312 steel grillage beams, granite piers and reinforced concrete floors. It contained 130 offices and two Otis Fensom elevators. The stone for the façade came from the Fox Island Quarry at the mouth of Jervis Inlet.

Initially there were many businesses with their offices here, including of course Mr. Winch himself. During the 1920s an increasing number of the offices were rented as federal government facilities, and the building was eventually purchased by the Federal Government for a number of departments in 1928. In 1939 the new owners added more office space, but reduced the interior design of the original by removing the first floor’s glazed domed ceiling seen in this early interior shot.

While still a Federal Building, and used as offices on the upper floors, the building was dramatically transformed in 1983 by Henriquez Architects with Toby Russell Blackwell into the Sinclair Centre, with retail stores as well as the government offices around a central atrium that combines four heritage structures.

Image Sources: BC Archives and City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1376-14


Posted June 22, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Silver and Avalon Hotels – West Pender Street

These two hotels are now joined together, but started life as rivals. The Silver, on the left gets its name from the developer, W S Silver. Designed by Grant & Henderson, it was completed in 1914, and was built by J J Disette for $30,000. The Avalon is five years older, and was designed by Parr and Fee for McLennan and Campbell. You can still see the Parr and Fee central pivot windows, in the $35,000 building constructed by Purdy & Lonergan. (Contract Record published the price as $45,000). When it started life it was known as the Savoy Rooms, run by Mrs Lillie Schadt, with a number of commercial tenants: the Mail Publishing Co, the Vancouver & Provincial Brokerage Co, Modern Office Supply Co, Upton & Heighton, real estate agents and Newmarch Cooper & Co, manufacturers agents.

William F Silver was from England, born in 1861, listed as a broker in the 1911 census. He had arrived in Canada in 1903 with wife Isabelle, who was shown as a year younger than her husband and born in Ontario. The Silvers had spent some time in the US, as the 1911 census shows sons William, a 24-year-old plumber, Kenneth, 23, a farmer, Neil, 21, and Hugh, aged only 8, had all been born there. Edith Brand, their 13-year-old niece also lived with them in Burnaby, on the corner of Kingsway and Silver Avenue. In 1900 they had been living in King County, Washington, where William was a life insurance agent.

The US Census for 1900 tells us that Isabelle’s mother was from New York and her father from Scotland. The three oldest sons had been born in Wisconsin, but there was a 1-year old son called Hugh born in Washington. (Either he died, and the family had a subsequent son also called Hugh, or the 1911 Canadian census recorded his age inaccurately). The birth certificate of one of the older sons tells us the family were living in West Superior, Douglas, Wisconsin, and that Isabelle’s maiden name was Isabelle McKinnen. Their marriage certificate from their wedding in 1863 shows that Isabelle was Jane Isabella McKinnon, born in 1860, her father was Laughlin McKinnon, and that she was a year older than her husband. Isabel Silver’s death was recorded in 1937, when her birth was shown as 1858 and her father’s name as Lachlan.  William F Silver died in December 1943, also in Burnaby.

McLennan and Campbell appear to be a development partnership of convenience, rather than an established business. Although there were many McLennans in the city, our guess would be that it was R P McLennan, the hardware mogul originally from Nova Scotia. In partnership with Edward McFeely of Ontario he built a huge warehouse on Cordova Street, and another on Water Street. Another company building was also designed by Parr and Fee and built by Purdy and Lonergan a few years earlier. There were hundred of Campbells in the city, so establishing which one developed the building is impossible without a clearer indication of a connection to an individual.

Over the years the upper floors have retained their residential use as the Silver Rooms and Avalon Apartments, (the Savoy name having been dropped by 1920). Retail uses have come and gone on the main floor; in the 1950s Haskins and Elliott sold bicycles and A E Marwell sold artist’s supplies. The cycle shop had been there over a decade.

Today the two buildings operate as a single privately owned SRO Hotel. The Avalon Hotel was purchased by Mario & Mina Angelicola in the late 1970’s. Our image dates from 1981. It was turned into an SRO (single room occupancy) in the late 1990’s and houses approximately 85 low-income tenants today.  Jenny & Josh Konkin, grandchildren of Mario and Mina have managed the hotel since 2010, also establishing Whole Way House in 2013 to provide support to the residents.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E16.13

Unit block – West Pender Street

We’re looking at the north side of the unit block of West Pender Street in 1981. Several buildings have changed, and that will be even more true in future as development is likely to finally develop the corner lots. As we’re looking east, we’re counting down from the former gas station at 99, already closed down and used as a car rental lot when our ‘before’ image was shot 36 years ago. There was a gas station here 80 years ago when it was identified as the Pender Abbott service station – gas and oil, and a century ago in 1917 it was the Central Gas Station, managed by W Noble who lived next door in Patricia Lodge.

Before the gas station opened there’s a 1909 image showing this block; it shows no structures on the corner lot, so ignoring the small gas station kiosk, this must be one of the only never really developed lots in the city. The two storey building was occupied by Stevenson Bros, wholesale boots & shoes, numbered as 83 W Pender. It dates back to the turn of the century, appearing in the street directory around 1901 as the Boyd Burns & Co warehouse, (addressed then as 45 Pender Street). That company, which dealt in plumbing and engineering supplies  including Portland Cement, built a new warehouse on Alexander Street in 1907, and a bigger one on Powell a few years later. The building survived many years, and was only incorporated into the gas station site after the 1950s.

The first building still standing is the Arco Hotel at 81 W Hastings. It was designed by Braunton & Leibert for John Walker, and completed in 1912. When it was built it was called Patricia Lodge and it seems to have a delayed opening until 1914. Then the building was described as a ‘private hotel’, seen in this early image by William Stark. It cost $53,500, and was described as “reinforced concrete stores & rooms”. John Walker was listed as a real estate developer in the Street Directory, living on Bute Street, but we haven’t conclusively linked any of the John Walkers in the 1911 census to this development.

Next to the Arco is a 2-storey building dating from 1927. In the 1950s it was occupied by an advertising company and Regal Greeting Cards. Beyond it is a large warehouse building, either rebuilt or remodeled in 1951. There was a clothing manufacturing company, a wholesale sportswear company and Safeway of Canada’s Training School here when it was first completed. We’re not sure if there are the bones of an earlier building underneath the 1950s warehouse, although the building’s appearance suggests that might be the case. Surprisingly, it appears to continue in use as a warehouse today. Beyond is W T Whiteway’s design for the Palmer Rooms Hotel; completed in 1913 for Storey & Campbell Ltd, and completely rebuilt in 2012 for the Vancouver Native Housing Society with funding from BC Housing and federal funds.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E17.22, Sc P57.3 and LGN 1185.5

Alexander Street – unit block

We’re looking east along Alexander with our back to Maple Tree Square. Our image is undated, but that’s a 1980 VW Golf on the right, so initially we estimated this was probably shot around 30 years ago. Today the trees are bigger, there’s a bike rack, and some new housing on the north side of the street completed in 1999, but the south side is almost unchanged.

Off in the distance the yellow building is one a building looked at earlier – but with a ‘before’ image that showed a locomotive instead of the building that’s there today. It’s the Four Sisters Housing Co-op, completed in 1988, so the picture must have been taken a little under 30 years ago. Closer to us, on the west side of Columbia Street is the City Hotel, built in 1905, expanded a couple of times (one major expansion was by Sam Kee in 1910, designed by W F Gardiner costing $55,000), and most recently called Alexander Court, a 59 unit privately owned SRO. That building has recently been restored, and now has the original brick façade rather than the painted upper floors in both these images.

Next door is another rooming house, but this one was purpose built. W F Gardiner designed this simple four storey building, three windows across and three storeys high, above a retail unit. The developer was Peter Drost, who also developed Hartney Chambers on West Pender a few years earlier. (At least, we’re reasonably certain of that; the permit is to E G Drost, but there was nobody with those initials in the city, and the architect and builder were the same as for Mr Drost’s earlier project). He was from Ontario, but worked his way westwards with several years as a grocer and flour merchant in Hartney, Manitoba and then Brandon. This rooming house cost him $21,000 to build, and he hired Adkinson and Dill (originally of Seattle) to build it in 1911, with completion the year after. In 1979 it became non-market housing and is owned by the City of Vancouver, known today as the Alexander Residence. When it was first built it was known as the Old City Lodging House.

Next door is the Grand Trunk Rooms, which today is addressed to Powell Street, like several buildings on this block. (The buildings are sandwiched between the two streets, and taper to a point to the right of the picture). The building, which sits on two lots, dates from 1906, and was initially the Grand Trunk Pacific Hotel, addressed to Alexander. In 1908 and 1909 it was run by Fiddes & Thomson – there was no identified proprietor in 1907, the year it first appeared. Both proprietors had run other hotels in the city, and both soon moved on to take over different establishments. In 1910 it was run by Borio & Berto; a year later it was Naismith & Campbell.

There’s no clear record of who built this structure, but there are some hints. There’s a permit for these lots in the right time frame that was issued to G D McConnell. Gilbert McConnell was an early developer in the city, completing buildings in 1889 and 1890. He was an Alderman in 1888 and 1889, and challenged David Oppenheimer for the mayoral position in 1890, but failed to get many votes. He started out in 1887, listed as ‘speculator’ and in 1888 as a builder, and by 1892 had become a clothing wholesaler with a home in the West End. By 1895 he was listed as “boots, shoes and gents clothing”. He continued to live on Haro Street, usually listed as manufacturer’s agent or commission agent until 1912. In 1913 he had moved to Barclay Street, where he was still living in the early 1920s.

Most census records suggest Gilbert Smythe McConnell was born in Quebec around 1857, (although his death certificate said it was 1855) and his wife, Nettie Agnes from Ontario was ten years younger. They married in Woodstock, Ontario in 1886, and their children were born in British Columbia; William in 1888 and Florence in 1890. Gilbert died in 1934.

The odd thing is that the Contract Record described the building to be designed by Parr and Fee here as a warehouse, but it was clearly a hotel from the day it was opened. The other curious thing is the name – Although it was the Grand Trunk Pacific Hotel, it doesn’t appear to be associated with either the Grand Trunk Pacific Steamship Co, (whose wharf was nearby) or the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. In fact the name didn’t last long; in 1914 the building was vacant, but that year Vancouver Breweries, Ltd. carried out repairs and a year later the Main Junk Co were on the main floor, and the Powell Rooms were upstairs (a name now attached to a building in the 500 block of Powell). In 1916 the retail unit was again vacant. In the 1920s the rooms were still the Powell Rooms, and there were two stores, both with Japanese businesses. They retained that name until 1932 when they were being run by a Japanese proprietor, then the building was vacant for two years before reopening as the Grand Trunk Rooms in 1935 (with a different Japanese operator). The Grand Trunk name has returned again (after briefly becoming The Warwick Hotel), attached to a building that nominally is an SRO Hotel but which offers the rooms at significantly higher rents than welfare rates. In 2013 these were $849 a room, to “students or people with student loans or work visas only,”

The single storey structure started life as a blacksmith’s shop for H Critch & Sons, built and designed by builder G Dunlap. The Crich business had been based here for some years, and in 1908 Kendrick & Dittberner, coppersmiths shared the lot. Improved in 1923, more recently the building has been a restaurant – in the late 1980s it was the Jewel of India, more recently it was a tapas bar called Salida 7 and currently Jack’s Taphouse & Grill.

The building on the right of the picture is the original Europe Hotel, originally built around 1887 with ‘brick additions’ in 1899 to the designs of W T Dalton.

Posted June 8, 2017 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

Hotel Europe (3)

We looked at the fabulous flatiron Hotel Europe in one of our earliest posts, and another view soon after. Here’s the original Hotel Europe which became the hotel’s annex when the much larger new structure was built next door in 1908. Our 1975 image shows the fire escape that has now been removed, but otherwise it’s still looking as good as ever. Today it’s part of a housing co-op that includes the flatiron building as well.

The Dictionary of Canadian Biography has an entry for Angelo Calori, the hotel’s owner and developer. “A fire in June destroyed every structure in Vancouver with the exception of one wooden building, which Calori purchased and transformed into the European Hotel. Five years later, after the city’s population had increased from approximately 1,000 to over 13,000, the establishment became known as the Hotel Europe. A photograph of Calori taken in 1893 reveals a confident businessman with dark eyes and a neatly trimmed full moustache.”

Some of this is correct. There was a fire in 1886, and only one building, a hotel, survived it. However, that was the Regina Hotel on Water Street, a long way from Powell and Alexander where Mr Calori’s property was located, and it was run by Edmond Cosgrove after the fire. In fact there’s no sign of Angelo Calori in Vancouver until 1888, when he was initially listed as running a restaurant, with the Hotel Europe getting mentioned for the first time a year later (run by Andrew and Joseph Calorae). His early history in North America isn’t documented, but it’s thought that he may have been in San Francisco before heading to Victoria in 1882 and working in the lower mainland building the railway, and in 1887 he was almost certainly the Angelo Calari working in the Nanaimo mines.

There were actually two Calori brothers in Vancouver, Joseph (actually named Guillermo) and Angelo, who were running the hotel in 1890 – the year they were fined for selling liquor on Sunday at the hotel. We can only find Angelo in the 1891 census, a 28-year old hotel-keeper born in Italy. The picture is Angelo in around 1893. In 1897 there was a third Calori Brother, C Calori, living at the hotel. In 1899 Angelo had W T Dalton design ‘brick additions’ to the hotel – but exactly what they consisted of, and whether the building we see today is therefore a Dalton design is unclear.

That 1891 census was missing a few people – Joseph Calori (older than Angelo by three years) was involved in running the business, shown in the street directory and still shared an address with Angelo (at the hotel) in 1901. We initially thought that in 1891 Angelo was married to Theresa, another Italian, although there was no Theresa Calori in the city. A daughter, Josephine Lena Calori was registered as having been born in Vancouver in 1889, at the Hotel Europe, with Doctor Mills in attendance. However, her birth wasn’t registered until 1904, with Angelo Calori listed as the father and Theresa Martina the mother. The 1891 census suggests a slightly different story. Therese Martina was a lodger in the Europe Hotel, with her two-year old daughter Josie, born in BC, whose father and mother had both been born in Italy. The biography says Angelo adopted Theresa’s daughter and they had a second daughter, but we think there was only ever one child, Josephine Lena.

The 1901 census said Angelo and Theresa were married, and that both arrived in Canada in 1882, and Joseph Calori in 1883. Joseph and Rosi Martina, aged 17 and 14, described as Angelo’s brother-in-law and sister-in-law also lived with the family. There were six domestics at the Europe Hotel, three of them also from Italy, and then many long-term residents, one described by the census as a ‘roomer’ and the others as ‘boarders’.

The 1911 Census didn’t find Angelo or his family, but Guillermo Calori was aged 50, and living at 56 Powell Street (which is across the street from this building). Around this period Angelo and Theresa Calori are absent from the street directories. After 1910 the hotel was managed by Albert Berger, and then F A McKeown. When the Calori’s returned to Vancouver in 1915, Angelo lived in a 25-room house on Burnaby Street and G Calori was shown still living at 56 Powell Street. That’s probably the same building that in 1906 was used as the Hotel Europe Annex, before the larger new flatiron building was completed.

We don’t know where the Calori’s went to for the early 1910s, although Angelo’s biography says it was a trip to Italy. US border records show that in 1912 Angelo immigrated to Vermont and a year later to Seattle. In 1914, in New York, aged 52 and single, he married Theresa Martina who was aged 53, and described as widowed. Both Angelo and Theresa were born in Varese Ligure in Italy. It would appear that Theresa (Teresa in some records) had originally married somebody else, but had lived with Angelo as husband and wife for many years. As catholics, divorce would have been impossible, so they presumably had to wait for Theresa’s husband to die. Whether (Josephine) Lena, whose birth was registered as Angelo’s daughter was actually his daughter is less clear.

Angelo’s family circumstances (if they were known) didn’t seem to have affected his progress in the city. He built one of the finest hotels, acquired a theatre, and was a founding member of the Sons of Italy, a mutual-benefit society founded in 1905. He died in May 1940, and was buried in Mountain View cemetery. He was predeceased by Lena, who died in 1930, and by Theresa, who died in 1934; all three share a prominent headstone. His son-in-law was the only remaining family member to remain able to deal with Angelo’s will. However, with the onset of the war, he and 40 other Italian men from Vancouver were interned at Kananaskis, Alberta, having become members of a Mussolini linked political club.

Image sources City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-506 and CVA 81-1.

Posted June 5, 2017 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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Vancouver Club – West Hastings Street

The front of the Vancouver Club hasn’t changed in over 40 years, as this 1976 image shows. In fact, it hasn’t changed much in over 100 years, from 1914 when it was completed to Sharp and Thompson’s design. The back of the building is a different matter. When it was built it sat on top of an escarpment, looking out over the railway tracks and wharves. The design was distinctly ‘back of house’ as nobody really saw it. That changed over time as the port functions moved and the road network gradually expanded northwards with new connections, effectively huge bridges, linking up at the West Hastings grade with the creation of Canada Place. Now the Waterfront Centre is across the street (and an extended Cordova Street), and beyond that is the Convention Centre. In 1992 the remodeling of the building saw a new façade facing north and internal layout, with a cantilevered element on the upper floor.

Founded in 1889, it was a number of clubs established by local businessmen; the city’s elite were members of the Vancouver Club. They had C O Wickenden (a club member) design their first premises in 1893, and once this new building was completed the Quadra Club occupied their old building (which was next door, to the east, and finally demolished in 1930).

Image source: City of Vancouver archives CVA 780-34

Posted May 29, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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602 Keefer Street

Gregory Tom was the headmaster of Lord Strathcona School, across the street from here, when he had this house built in 1902. He was aged 39, and had come to Vancouver from Victoria, where he taught school. His early years were spent in Usborne, in Huron County, Ontario, which is where we think he was born (and listed in the 1871 census as Greggory). He had at least three siblings, one of them becoming a Senator in Toledo, Ohio. In 1888 Gregory emigrated to New York, but by 1891 he was in Victoria, aged 27 and still single.

Before he moved into his new home, which cost $1,000, he had married Caroline Fitton, also from Ontario and a few years younger than her husband, and they hade a son, Reginald, in 1896. William Cline, a carpenter and builder designed and built the house, as he did several others down the same street. It looks as if he was born in Quebec, while his wife, Mary, came from Ontario, but their children, including carpenters Albert and William H were born in the USA. This house was addressed as 602 on either street, Keefer, or Princess. We’ve noted many times that the 1911 census is unreliable, and it proved to be so for the Tom family, where Gregory is recorded as Anthony, although the details of the home address, (by then 1602 E 12th Ave where the family moved to that year), his occupation, Caroline and Reginald are all correct.

By 1921 Gregory had moved on to be the principal of Alexandra School, and was living on Point Grey Road. Reginald was still living at home, training as a lawyer with Williams Walsh McKim & Housser. Adding a further decade finds Gregory still working as principal of a school, and Reginald still at home, but now a barrister. Gregory retired in the early 1930s and died in 1938 in Vancouver, and Caroline in 1949 when she was living in New Westminster. Their son, Reginald Fitton Tom died at aged 43 in Vancouver in March 1940, still living at home.

The house narrowly avoided the ‘slum clearance’ that would have replaced the entire Strathcona neighbourhood with more contemporary housing, but by 1977 when this image was taken it wasn’t at its best (although much better than many in the area). In recent years the house has been restored to something closer to its original state.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1135-28

Posted May 18, 2017 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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