Archive for the ‘Victory Square’ Category

De Beck Block – 366 West Hastings

 

This prominent corner of Hastings and Homer has a surprisingly modest building today, but earlier there were two more flamboyant buildings. On the right was the O’Brien Hall, where Professor William O’Brien taught dance (as we saw in the previous post). The one on the left was designed by W T Dalton for George Ward DeBeck. It was completed in 1898, when Mr. DeBeck was a partner in Mackinnon, Beck & Co, (real estate agents) and lived on Hornby Street.

He was born at Woodstock, New Brunswick in 1849, and after leaving school travelled to California, where he worked in sawmills. He later joined his family, who had moved to British Columbia. His father had moved to New Westminster in 1868, working as a logger, but died in a logging accident two years later. There were three other DeBeck brothers, and they collectively built the Brunette Saw Mills in Sapperton in 1874. In 1877 George was in New Westminster, working at the Brunette Sawmill Co where H L DeBeck was manager and Clarence DeBeck foreman. By 1881 the mill was cutting 50,000 feet of lumber a day, and employing 30 workers. Their lumber at the time came from a camp on Pitt Lake. George DeBeck had already tired of the lumber business – in 1880 he was running a hotel in Yale. In the census a year later his wife and two children also lived in Yale, but not at the hotel.

While a 1914 biography suggested Mr. DeBeck married in 1887, a later newspaper article clarified that it was in 1877, when his wife-to-be was only aged 16, and still attending a convent in New Westminster. Some references suggest she was the first white child born in New Westminster. Having hired a cab, and a tugboat, Mr. DeBeck spirited his wife-to-be away from her school Sunday morning walk, and hurried to Port Townsend in Washington where they married. To ensure there was no chase, it was reported that Mr. DeBeck arranged for the telegraph lines to be cut.

After the hotel in Yale the family moved south, with George working in the timber trade, initially in Washington. In 1883 the family were in The Dalles, Oregon, where Edward (“Ned”) Keary DeBeck was born. Two years later Leonora Alsea Debeck was born in Yaquinna, Oregon. The family moved on to Idaho, then in 1886 returned to Canada, and to Vancouver in 1891, where G W DeBeck was listed as a timber speculator. In 1895, a son, Ward was born. and two years later Viola, who would become one of the earliest women law students in British Columbia. At this point George had moved on again, and instead of lumber now held interests in mining. At this point he was listed as ‘broker’ – as he was involved in real estate as well as mining. He developed the West Hastings building which soon included tenants as varied as Vogel’s Commercial College, the French Consulate, and the local office of Imperial Oil.

George’s next adventure was a government appointment, as Indian Agent in Alert Bay on Cormorant Island, off Vancouver Island. He held the job for four years, then returned to Vancouver, and the timber cruising and logging business. At the end of 1939 George and Emma moved to Victoria, British Columbia to live with their son, Ned, but Emma died that year, on December 31. George returned to Vancouver, where he died in 1943. You can read far more about George, and his family, on WestEnd Vancouver.

When he died, his building (seen here in 1940 with the Pall Mall Café) had been demolished, replaced with the less ornate building seen today. There was a Bank of Montreal branch on the corner from 1928 and the replacement was built in two phases, with the bank occupying the eastern half (where the DeBeck Building had been) before moving into the western corner once the entire building was completed. We weren’t certain who designed the 1940 building, but the style is reminiscent of the buildings designed by Townley and Matheson for the Vancouver General Hospital around this time and in 1940 they designed a business block for Dr. Worthington at Homer and Hastings. Patrick Gunn dug out the 1940 permit, and it was indeed those architects for Doctor Worthington, who owned the Vancouver Drug Company. Today it’s part of the campus of the Vancouver Film School, suffering somewhat by the addition of an extremely brutal tubular canopy.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu N135

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Posted June 13, 2019 by ChangingCity in Gone, Victory Square

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O’Brien Hall – West Hastings and Homer

The tenants of this building, William and Gertrude O’Brien, were so identified with it that it was named for them in the photo captions in the Library and Archives collections. Actually it pre-dated their involvement, and started life called the ‘British Columbia Land and Investment Agency Building’. Built in 1892, it was designed by Fripp and Wills. In the early years it was home to the Moodyville Land and Sawmill Co. Up to 1898 the building was also called the “Metropolitan Club Block” and sometimes the “Metropolitan Block”.

This early image was shot in 1898 (when the sidewalk was still wooden). The developer, The B.C. Land and Investment Agency were a London-based Real Estate and Insurance Agency which at one time were said to own or control half the real estate in Victoria.

The O’Brien’s were from Ontario; William from Nobleton and Gertrude from Barrie. They married in 1892, and moved west two years later. When he married, William was a musician, but on arrival in Vancouver he styled himself a “Professor of Dancing,” opening a dancing academy on an upper floor of this building. In 1894 the Daily World reported an ‘At Home’, where 40 couples danced until midnight, when luncheon was served, and then danced on again ’till morn’. Gertrude also taught dancing. In 1894 it was reported “Mrs. W.E. O’Brien, teacher of society dancing, is about to commence her children’s class, during which all the popular society dances will be taught, as well as some very artistic dances suitable for children’s exhibitions. For terms apply at academy, corner of Homer and Hastings streets.”

The O’Brien’s had four daughters – two sets of twins. In the 1920s they lived on Denman Street, and the 1921 census showed Gertrude no longer taught dance, and William was listed as proprietor of the hall for his occupation, although he was still listed in the street directory as ‘dancing master’. There’s more detail about the family on WestEnd Vancouver.

The hall was used for a variety of purposes: the first suffrage convention in the city was held here in 1911. The Pacific Lodge of the Oddfellows first met here in 1894, before moving to another hall nearby on Hamilton Street. In 1907 the first meeting of the Vancouver Automobile Club was held. The first official club rally was held on Labour Day, 1907 with a run around Stanley Park, where eleven cars started but only five cars made it all the way around. That same year the Canada Lumberman and Woodworker reported, rather mysteriously a “HOO-HOO IN BRITISH COLUMBIA. A Rousing Concatenation Held at Vancouver Last Month. On Friday, August the ninth, the mystic Black Cat again held court on the roof, in Vancouver, when the timorous purring of thirty-two unregenerated kittens was mingled with the yowls and caterwauls of nearly a hundred old cats. The session took place in O’Brien’s Hall, Hastings street. Snark J. D. Moody was again in evidence as leader

From 1928 the corner tenant of the main floor of the building was the Bank of Montreal. By 1930 the O’Brien’s were no longer shown in the street directory, and Wrigley’s Directory were the lessees of the O’Brien Hall. William and Gertrude were living in Vancouver again in 1939, in retirement, and Gertrude died in Vancouver in, 1951, and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery. William died in 1957, and was buried with her.

In 1940 a new branch of the Bank of Montreal had been built here, with the Bank occupying the eastern half of the partly-completed new building on a temporary basis, while the western (corner) unit was completed, and they were able to occupy their long term location. We didn’t know for certain who designed the 1940 building, but the style is similar to the buildings designed by Townley and Matheson for the Vancouver General Hospital around this time. In 1940 Townley and Matheson designed a business block for Dr. Worthington at Homer and Hastings, and as the other three corner buildings are all earlier than 1940, and still standing today, it seemed pretty clear that this is their work, and the building Permit from 1940 confirms that the $60,000 building was their work. Dr George Worthington was president of the Vancouver Drug Co, and in 1937 chaired the annual of the Vancouver Tourist Association dinner. Today the building is part of the Vancouver Film School.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-2041

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West Pender Street east from Cambie

Sometimes we notice that the most obvious buildings have been overlooked on this blog. Here’s one of the most glaring examples; the World Building, today known as The Sun Tower. These days, from this angle, the lower part of the building is hidden by the street trees, but in 1920, when this Vancouver Public Library image was shot, it was clearly visible. The triangular piece of land fronted by Beatty and West Pender was part of the old City Hospital grounds, but the buildings were set further south, with land reserved to allow Pender to continue to Beatty, although the road was never actually built.

Newspaper mogul L B Taylor hired W T Whiteway to design his new office building in 1910, and it was completed in 1912. The Vancouver Daily World was the city’s biggest paper of the day, and the World Building the most prestigious offices, with a claim when completed (published on postcards of the time) of being the tallest building in the British Empire – although the Contract Record only acknowledged it as the tallest in Vancouver. Whiteway was an experienced and busy architect, and he had also received the commission for the warehouse (originally described as a business building) also clearly visible in 1920, next door on Beatty Street for Storey and Campbell, completed in 1911 and built by Snider & Bros for $60,000. G L Sharp, in an interview recorded in the 1970s, claimed that the design of the World Building was actually his, and that he was paid $300 and Whiteway given the design to complete. Another source suggest E S Mitton also collaborated.

L D Taylor had arrived in Vancouver from Ann Arbour in Michigan in 1896, escaping his failed bank and abandoning his wife. He reinvented himself in Vancouver without mentioning many details of his past life – especially the fact that he was wanted by Michigan authorities in connection with the bank failure. Failing to find work in a depressed economy, he tried gold mining in California, then the Yukon, and ended up back in Vancouver in 1898 with 25c in his pocket. He worked at the Province newspaper running their distribution and circulation, and ran successfully for election as a Licence Commissioner in 1902, although he lost in 1903.

In 1905, having persuaded various financial backers to help, he took over the World newspaper, the Province’s rival, and set about boosting its sales. He ran for mayor (coming second) in 1909, and winning in 1910 aged 53, and again a year later. By the start of the Great War there was a new rival paper, the Sun, rising newsprint costs and falling advertising revenue. These caused the World to face a financial crisis. In 1915, Taylor ran and won as mayor again, on the same day a judge ruled that the paper had to be sold to pay its creditors. Taylor lost his paper fortune with the buy-out, and the new owners of the paper abandoned it’s building overnight, although Louis Taylor was no longer associated with the building’s owners, the World Building Company. In 1916 he married the newspaper’s former business manager, Alice Berry, (and a year later got round to divorcing his first wife in California).

Louis Taylor hadn’t personally develop the tower; the World Building Company was initially organized by Taylor, and they planned to spend $375,000 to develop it. On the permit they claimed to be building it themselves, but actually it was Smith and Sherborne, and the final cost was $560,000. It had a “class A steel frame; reinforced concrete floors; materials, stone, brick and terra cotta.” An added detail not shown on the original design were nine barely clad maidens, designed by Charles Marega, who graced the top of the 8th storey pediment. Financing proved difficult, and L D was accused of bending the rules by negotiating with J J Hill’s Great Northern Railway (as Mayor) for their new terminus station while at the same time persuading Hill to loan funds to the World Building Company.

Once the World was out of the building in 1915, it became the Tower Building. A variety of office tenants continued to occupy the building, including architect E E Blackmore. After the war the Pride of The West Knitting Mills were located on the second floor where the newspaper had once been produced. After coming second for three elections in a row, L D Taylor was elected mayor again in 1924, and was re-elected two more times. He lost in 1928, after 2-year terms had been introduced, but won again in 1930, when the Tower Building had become the Bekins Building, owned by Bekins Moving and Storage. Taylor was re-elected mayor again for the last time in 1932, at the age of 74.

The Vancouver Sun was published in the building between 1937 and 1964 and left its name with the tower, so that today it’s still known as ‘The Sun Tower’. It’s still an office building, despite most of the rest of the Beatty Street commercial buildings converting to residential uses.

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300 West Hastings Street

We saw the Inns of Court building that once stood here in an earlier post. From the 1890s offices for lawyers were here because the Courthouse was next door – where today the park of Victory Square is located. When we posted the Inns of Court comparison, the ‘after’ shot showed the 1950 Bank of Commerce designed by McCarter Nairne – one of the earliest modernist structures in the city. At the time it was one of a number of buildings occupied by the Vancouver Film School, and it’s seen here at the end of 2014, not long before it was demolished, and below in 1981.

It was replaced earlier this year with a rental residential building developed by Simon Fraser University, with a floor of educational space and a café on the main floor. Designed by Raymond Letkeman Architects, it used a hybrid construction method of concrete frame for the lower floors and woodframe for the upper residential floors, all clad in brick.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives  CVA 779-E11.20.

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Posted November 20, 2017 by ChangingCity in Gone, Victory Square

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160 West Cordova Street

We have seen this 1888 building on Cordova Street in an earlier post, but we haven’t been able to identify the architect or developer. In the earlier 1902 image Rae’s wholesale and retail could be seen. This 1936 shows the building occupied by sheet metal workers Kydd Brothers.

In 1906 Norman Kydd was shown living in the city for the first time, working as a clerk, but by 1908 Kydd Bros – Harry F and Norman were established selling hardware and kitchen furnishings at 128 E Hastings. Norman was living in The Manhattan, and Harry at 1160 Robson, although they each had suites in the Manhattan a year later.

By 1912 the firm moved from East Hastings to West Pender: both brothers had moved home; Harry to West 3rd Avenue, (to a building still standing today) and Norman to Comox Street in the West End. The move to West Pender prompted an advertisement in the Daily World which gives a good idea of their line of business “A Big Tool Demonstration Tomorrow Night at Kydd Brothers, Limited HARDWARE SALE Tradesmen in all lines are cordially invited to be present. Prominent men in all trades will be here and a pleasant evening may be spent in looking over the tremendous stock of tools now in display that are being closed out before this firm moves to its new store. The purpose of the gathering is to bring men together working in the same trades to inspect tools that are now down from the shelves laid side by side for quick disposal. It Shall Not Be Obligatory on Anyone to Buy – but men expert in their trades will be here to give views on the merits of the particular tools they use and discussion will follow which will go to show why certain makes of tools are preferred over others and why they are used. Old Heads Will Reason With Young Ones and the gathering of tradesmen in all lines in this store on Saturday night will be of splendid educational benefit to those who are interested on the work they do and the best tools to use to do it. Fine lines of hardware and mechanics’ tools are being sold at factory cost; everything outside of association goods. Its a big chance to replenish the tool chest at easy prices because the stock here is to be completely closed out.” Later Norman Kydd would have a retail store on Granville Street.

Norman and Harry Kydd were born in Ozark, Kansas, of Scottish parents, but moved to Ontario as children. Harry’s business career began as auditor for the Armor Packing Co. in Richmond, Virginia. Later he was moved to other company branches, including Philadelphia. He joined Norman in 1907, with Harry’s role as an entrepreneurial salesman. The firm took on the sale of stoves which were installed upon purchase. The sheet metal shop, shown here, was opened in the 1920s. and in 1936, when this image was shot, it was still home to Kydd Brothers, although by that time Harry was the only brother involved in the business. In 1919 Norman had established his own business on Granville Street, and by the early 1920s had moved south, later living in Seattle.

At one time Kydd Brothers employed 20 plumbers, but following a strike in the late 1920’s (where the new wage was raised to $1 an hour), Kydd Bros left the installation market and stuck largely to plumbing sales to both retail and wholesale trade.

A third brother, Malcolm also moved to Vancouver, and became an employee of the Royal Bank. By the 1930s he was manager of the Port Coquitlam branch of the bank, and in the 1940s manager of the Huntington Rubber Mills of Canada Ltd., factory in the same municipality. He died in 1945.

Harry had died a few years earlier, in 1941. He had run for Alderman in the city at least twice in the late 1920s and early 1930s on a platform of honest administration and fiscal conservatism. After the Second World War, Harry’s son Charles was running the company when the commercial division was relocated to the south side of False Creek where they became BC Plumbing Supplies. This building was rebuilt in 1953 as a single storey structure and today is associated with the Cambie Hostel next door.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4875

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Posted October 19, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone, Victory Square

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31 West Pender Street

Here’s the Pender Hotel in 1977, although at that time it was called the Wingate Hotel. Today it has a new name, Skwachays Lodge, and it’s effectively a new building. It was first a new building in 1913 when it was called the Palmer Rooms and it was an investment property designed by W T Whiteway for Storey and Campbell. They were owners of a manufacturing company making saddles, harnesses and trunks, with a new warehouse and manufacturing building just up the street on Beatty Street. We looked at the owners of the company when we described the history of that building.

This was a $40,000 investment, which was only a fraction of the budget that the same architect had three years earlier for the World Building, (today known as the Sun Tower), just across the street. Whiteway still managed to add some fancy architectural details in terra cotta with some elaborate pressed metal work on the cornice. Structurally the building wasn’t sophisticated – steel columns supporting millwork floors. In 1946 it was acquired by Lai Hing, who lived in the building and operated his hotel business under the Wingate Hotel name for over 30 years.

More recently it was acquired by B C Housing, one of over 20 SRO buildings that were bought to stabilize the stock of older, cheaper rental space, and to improve the state of the buildings, both structurally and in terms of facilities. After years of neglect (and with some harrowing stories of former activities in the building), the Pender Hotel was the only one found to be beyond repair. Instead a completely new building was constructed in 2012 behind the original (and now seismically stable) façade. Joe Wai, who designed the adjacent native housing building to the east, was the architect.

Today the building is run by the Vancouver Native Housing Society, and provides 24 housing units for artists and 18 hotel rooms, each one designed by first nations artists on a specific theme with names like the Hummingbird, the Moon and the Northern Lights suite. They’re available for first nations medical stay guests as well as tourists. As a social enterprise, the hotel needed at least 50% occupancy, but initially that wasn’t being achieved. The idea of adding the themes made all the difference, and now the hotel is recognized around the world and in high demand. As well as the first nations designed rooms there’s a sweat lodge on the roof, as well as a totem pole called ‘Dreamweaver’, carved by Francis Horne Sr, and a Haida designed screen by Eric Parnell as well as a Fair Trade Gallery at street level.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1135-19

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Posted August 17, 2017 by ChangingCity in Altered, East End, Victory Square

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317 West Pender Street

In this 1974 image the Victory Block (as it’s now named) had space to rent, and a fire escape on the façade. To the west was the Pender Ballroom, and to the east the Roberts Block. When it was built in 1908 (the same year as the Roberts Block) it was called the Riggs Selman Building, named for its investor developers, Samuel Spencer Selman and Dr. Herbert Wilkinson Riggs. If he read it, Mr. Selman was no doubt unimpressed by the news report that “Dr. H. W. Riggs and Mr. S. Salmon have taken out a permit for a four-storey brick block to be erected on Pender street, between Homer and Hamilton street, at cost of $40,000. The building will have a frontage of 50 feet.”

Oddly, for such a strikingly designed building, there’s no reference to an architect. There is another building completed that year which has some architectural details somewhat similar to this block, albeit rather less exuberant; the Shaldon Hotel on East Hastings was designed by H B Watson.

Dr Riggs was a physician and surgeon, born in Wicklow in Ontario in 1872. He trained in Winnipeg and Edinburgh, and arrived in BC in 1899. In 1901 he was still single, but he soon married and had two daughters, lived on West Georgia and was a member of the Terminal City  and University Clubs. As with many of the city’s successful professionals Dr Riggs also took a keen interest in property development. As well as this building, he had interests in the Dominion Trust Company (in 1907) and the Federal Trust Company, and was a director in both companies. He was a Freemason, and also governor of the Pacific-Northwest District of the Kiwanis from 1918 to 1920. He was president of the Vancouver Medical Association and in 1930 was appointed by the Provincial Secretary to the Board of Vancouver General Hospital.

Samuel Selman was a realtor in 1908 (representing the Manitoba Land Co), and born in Ontario in 1862. He married Clara Barr in Ontario in 1883, and by 1901 they had moved to Victoria, and had several children, Ella, (or Elba as she was shown in Victoria), May, Hubert, Gordon, Mary, (Marie on her wedding certificate), and Roy. Clara’s mother, Mary Barr also lived with them. Tragically, Ella accidentally died of drowning in English Bay in 1908; at the time she was crippled, on crutches, and slipped in the water. Samuel switched employment a number of times. In 1901 he was shown in the census as a lumberman, although he doesn’t appear in the street directory in Victoria until 1903 when he was listed as a grocer. In 1911 he was President of the Canadian Pipe Co, a position he first held in 1909. He died in 1947,

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-265

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