Archive for the ‘Victory Square’ Category

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

Hastings Street Court House (2)

We looked at an image of this Courthouse building a couple of years ago, but from Pender Street, looking down the hill of Cambie. Here’s a postcard from around 1908 of the north face of the building, facing West Hastings. This shows N S Hoffar’s 1893 Provincial Courthouse addition – although it was actually twice as big as the original (and more modest) building designed by T C Sorby in 1889 and completed in 1890, which was located closer to Pender Street. From this angle, that building sitting behind the addition, almost hidden by trees but just showing on the left. On the right is a picture of the building in 1890. The maple trees on the Pender Street frontage are among the oldest in the city, planted in 1897.

Once the new courthouse was completed a few years later, on West Georgia, there was some debate about what to do with the old building. Despite its impressive appearance in the postcard, as a May 1909 Daily World letter suggests, not everybody was in love with the building. “With regard to the court house itself, they all knew it was one of the most disgraceful buildings that existed in the province. It was more or less in a foul and filthy condition all the time, but no blame could be attached to the officials. It was simply an incommodious and inconvenient building. Certainly it had been a standing menace to the health of the judges, juries and officials generally.”

Mayor Douglas suggested it might make a good City Hall, but the general view seems to have been that it wasn’t big enough (and presumably letters like the one above also had some influence). Instead it was decided to clear the structure and create an open space, which was named Government Square. During the first World War the site was used as a recruiting office, with a number of tents and temporary buildings. An Evangelical Tabernacle was also created as a temporary structure in 1917. The park was given the name Victory Square in 1922 and two years later the Cenotaph, designed by G L Sharp, was built through public subscription.

Image source (1890 image) City of Vancouver Archives Bu P390

Posted April 3, 2017 by ChangingCity in Gone, Victory Square

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339 West Pender Street

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Here’s a building that was lost to a fire in 2003. It was most recently known as the Pender Auditorium, but it started life in 1906 as the Myers Hall, and was quickly renamed as the Dominion Hall. The designer and developer were initially hard to pin down, but from the name it looked like it was associated with a short-lived real estate company called Myers and Lamey, who had offices in the building in 1907. However, they didn’t appear in the street directory at all, but they did run a few advertisements in the Daily World, and John M Lamey was in real estate in the city that year. Because Mr. Lamey stayed in the city in the real estate business we know he was young; born in 1884 in Ontario, as was his wife, Florence. He appears to have headed south in 1916, living in Huntington Park, Los Angeles in the 1930 census with Florence and their children; Leo, a nut seller, daughter Margaret, ‘Professional Dancer, Vaudeville’, and two other younger children.

The ‘Myers’ looks as if it was ‘Professor’ Myers of the Myers Dance Academy. He started a dancing class ‘in his new hall’ in 1906. The name switch to the Dominion Hall a year or so later may relate to the Dominion Music Company who performed in the hall. Professor Myers was Marion C Myers, and in 1905 he was the Lessee of the Imperial Hall. The true developer of the building can be seen in a 1906 Daily World article which mentions that Professor Myers was to be the lessee of Mr. Acland Hood’s new hall on Pender Street. There was already a hall on Pender Street designed by W T Whiteway, developed by William Acland-Hood, and this second hall was designed by Dalton & Eveleigh in 1906, costing $35,000 and boasting ‘two upper floors to be devoted to the largest dancing hall in the city’. Professor Myers missed the Canadian census, but it looks as if he was from Indiana, and moved out of Vancouver before 1908. In 1910 he was living in Portland, a real estate broker with his Canadian wife Ada (who worked as a bookkeeper in real estate) and daughters Juanita (8) and Virl, (5).

In 1920 (and in 1930) Marion C Myers was living in Thurston, Washington. In 1920 he was aged 53, working as a planerman in a sawmill and living with his Canadian wife Sadie, aged 27, and 15 year old Virl who worked as a waitress. In 1930 Virl had moved out, but Marion and Sadie had four children at home. Marion was working as an auto repair mechanic, and Sadie immigration date to the US was noted as 1918.

The basement held the city’s first purpose-built bowling alley, with 12 alleys, four of them reserved for ladies. On the ground floor was another slice of motordom, with the CCM (Canadian Cycle and Motor Co) selling Russell cars (including the top-of-the-range 7 cylinder model) and a range of bicycle brands, including Perfect, Rambler and Blue Flyer.

The hall became used by the Canadian Legion in the mid 1930s, and by 1940 it was the Boilermaker’s Hall, then in 1947 the Marine workers took it over and it became known as the Pender Auditorium. Fraser Wilson painted a fabulous mural “a view of a worker’s waterfront”– on the walls, and after the building was sold and plans were made to paint over it, the mural was moved, restored, and rededicated at the opening of the new Maritime Labour Auditorium in 1988.

g-deadDuring the 1960s the Auditorium was booked regularly by contemporary music concert promoters, with a wide range of bands playing there, including an early Grateful Dead concert on Friday August 5 1966. The People’s Co-op book store was where the bicycles had once been sold. The organizer of ‘The Afterthought’ concerts wasn’t even 18 when he obtained his business licence and started promoting concerts that year. The hall could legally hold 1,000 (although apparently that was sometimes exceeded) so his entire enterprise was very ambitious, including the first psychedelic light show in the city. As the hall was only available on some weekends, after only a few months Afterthought moved to Kitsilano’s Russian Hall, but other promoters continued to use the venue for live music.

The ‘before’ image is said to date from somewhere between 1966 and 1980. The Brill T48 trolley buses were withdrawn from service in the early 1980s, so that’s no help, and the VW is a mid 1960s model, so equally unhelpful. The Pender Auditorium closed in the late 1960s, and this picture shows the ‘Dance’ sign still on the building, and ‘For Lease’ signs in the upper windows where the hall was located, so this is probably late 1969 or early 1970.

The building was home to Vancouver’s earliest drag bar, BJ’s, open from 1970 to 1983. There’s a youtube video showing images from the days when it was operating. After a while the Vancouver Club Baths opened in the same basement area of the building. Once the owners of the club, Brian and Jim, sold the club it took on a western theme as Saddle Tramps before converting to a lesbian bar, Ms. T’s.

In July 2003 the building burned down, and to prevent the fire spreading to adjacent buildings it was demolished immediately. The site was acquired by the City of Vancouver, and after eight years the Pacific Coast Apartments were built here, a non-market housing project funded by BC Housing and designed by Davidson Yuen Simpson Architects

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-263

Posted February 6, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone, Victory Square

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307 West Pender Street

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We’ve looked at the building on the right of this 1975 image in two previous posts; when it was a newspaper office and printing works, and a little earlier in 1922 when it was also a knitting factory. The building next door is slightly oldier; the corner building dates from 1911 but Thomas Roberts built the Roberts Block in 1908. We’ve looked at Mr. Roberts in an earlier post. He was responsible for a later Roberts Block on Water Street, designed by Hugh Braunton in 1911. Although the 1908 Contract Record itemized the cost of the Pender Street building – $24,0000 – it didn’t mention the architect, and the Building permit has been lost. The Vancouver Daily World reported in January 1908 that the new building being proposed would a 5-storey building, and that Mr. Roberts himself was supervising the construction of the tender to construct the basement but doesn’t reference a designer.

Mr. Roberts hired R H Bracken in 1903 to build a $25,000 addition to his hotel, and again in 1910 to design a stable for his West End home and Hugh Braunton to design the Grand Hotel in 1905 and the Roberts Block on Water Street in 1911. However, as far as we can tell, he designed this commercial building himself. He obtained a Permit to dig the footings in January 1908, and the main building permit in March. By August the Province were reporting “The finishing touches are being added to a modern business block just completed on the north side of Pender street between Homer and Hamilton street. It is a two-story brick fire-proof structure, with basement, extending the full length of lot, 120 feet. It is owned by Mr. T. J. Roberts, proprietor of the Grand Hotel. Mr. Roberts designed the plans and personally supervised every detail of construction.

The upper floor has been magnificently equipped for the purposes of a lodging house. The specious rooms can be used single or en suite. Every apartment has a steam heat radiator besides behind supplied with hot and cold water, gas heating pipes, fire alarm, city and house telephones.

The first floor has been divided into offices which are so designed that they can be converted into bedrooms if the entrée building should be subsequently used as a lodging house exclusively. The ground floor is occupied my Messrs. Greene & Simpson, undertakers. This large floor space contains a beautiful chapel, reception hall, inquest, embalming and stock rooms.”

tommy-cyrs-centre-and-tommy-roberts-with-dog-vancouver-1887-8ishBy October the building was complete, and occupied. Very soon after this there was a fire, reported that same month: “Prompt Work of Firemen Saved Costly Blaze at Cabello Cigar Factory on Pender Street. Fire broke out late last evening in the bonded warehouse of the Cabello Cigar Manufacturing Co., in the Roberts block, on Pender street. Passers by who saw the smoke turned in an alarm and awoke the night – watchman, who sleeps at Greene & Simpson’ undertaking parlors, in the same building. By the time – halls 2, 1 and 6 arrived, however, the fire had got a good start and was blazing away merrily. The firemen worked with their usual skill and energy, and by midnight the flames were extinguished. It is not yet known how the blaze originated, but it is thought that damages will be about $1,000, as a large quantity of cigars and tobacco were destroyed. A number of caskets, belonging to Messrs. Greene & Simpson, were somewhat injured by the smoke, though fortunately not seriously.”

We covered the story of Tommy Roberts and his Water Street development in a post a year ago. Thanks to Andrea Butler, Tommy’s great granddaughter, we have this fabulous family image of Tommy Roberts (on the right, with his dog) and his uncle, Tommy Cyrs, in the middle, who probably developed the Grand Hotel on Water Street.

Tommy Roberts owned a fair amount of property around Vancouver, and even some in New Westminster and Coquitlam. He died after an intruder burst into a high stakes card game in the West End, and robbed the players. Reports said that Tommy Roberts wasn’t willing to give up the ring he was wearing, and was shot. There are suggestions that there was some cheating going on, and the robbery was rigged, but the thief got away and never identified. The huge diamond ring was not taken by the intruder, but it had disappeared by the time Tommy’s body got to the morgue.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-265

Posted February 2, 2017 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, Victory Square

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A Bit of Hastings Street

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We really can’t argue with the title of this tinted postcard from the 1910s. Remarkably, it shows that the pattern of buildings hasn’t changed in either of the two blocks visible in the picture for over a century. In fact almost all the buildings are unchanged. The dominant building is obviously the Dominion Building, completed in 1910. Initially developed by the Imperial Trust in 1908, an over optimistic belief that the needed $600,000 construction cost would be easy to raise led to a shotgun merger with the Dominion Trust Company, and the building was completed in 1910. Perhaps it would have been called the Imperial Building if the merger hadn’t happened. The Dominion was said to be the first steel-framed building in the city, and on completion the tallest in the British Empire. Almost immediately the building’s owners suffered further financial crises, with the Dominion Trust Company forced into selling to the entirely unrelated Dominion Bank, ensuring that the name didn’t have to change.

On the extreme left hand side of the picture is a building occupied by Vancouver Hardware and Thomson’s Stationers early in its life, hidden behind the tree in the contemporary shot. It was designed by Parr and Fee in 1898, and today has some terrible cement render replacing the original facade. The two-storey building to the east is The Mahon Block, designed by W T Dalton and built in 1902. In 1913 it was altered by W F Gardiner, which was possibly when an additional bay was added to the east, as far as we can tell for Thomson Brothers.

To the east, the tall, thin building is still standing today – although in our summer shot the street tree hides it from this angle. It’s the Skinner building, and it was built in 1898, so the second oldest on the block. It’s four storeys tall with an almost fully glazed facade designed by W T Dalton for Robert B Skinner and Frederick Buscombe for Jas. A Skinner’s wholesale china and glassware business.

Beyond that to the east was a rather handsome 1899 building, built for Thomas Hunter and designed by Blackmore and Sons. Today it’s one of the few ‘gap teeth’ in the city – the building was destroyed by fire in 2004. Next door to that is the oldest building on the block, the 1894 and 1898 Rogers Block built by Jonathan Rogers in two almost identical phases with William Blackmore and then Parr and Fee as architects.

Looking down the street to the south side of the 100 block, the tall building is the Stock Exchange Building, a tall skinny office that was never actually occupied by the Exchange. Today it’s an SRO that has just had an excellent façade restoration. Like the Dominion Building it was designed by J S Helyer. Next door is a more modestly scaled building at 150 West Hastings dating from 1903, then two more Jonathan Rogers investments, one developed by his wife, Elizabeth. Hidden behind the tree on the right is the Province Building which started life (in 1908) as the Carter Cotton Building. The biggest differences between the two pictures are the addition of street trees, and the reduced volume of pedestrians on the sidewalks.

Posted December 5, 2016 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, Victory Square

Vancouver Hardware – 339 West Hastings Street

Vancouver Hardware 1900

This early commercial block has seen better days. The detail of the cornice has gone; half the glazing has been covered up and the entire front has been covered in pebble-coated stucco. In 1949 it was effectively rebuilt, and most of the detail of the Parr and Fee design from 1898 was lost. Our ‘before’ image comes from a 1900 publication, ‘Vancouver of Today Architecturally’, a promotional brochure put together by some of the city’s architects of the day, including Parr and Fee (who had so much work at the time that it’s surprising they felt the need to advertise for more).

This was featured as the Vancouver Hardware Co, and they were shown as being based at 395 W Hastings in 1898 – which could have been this location before the street was re-numbered. Under A O Campell’s management, they had moved from Cordova where they were located in 1897. In 1898 Thomson Stationery were next door at 393, having moved from Cordova in 1897 as well. In 1899 both Thomson Stationery and Vancouver Hardware were listed at 325 West Hastings – but we think the directory just missed the street number for this address and there were two different buildings – both designed by Parr and Fee in 1898. That certainly seems to be the case in subsequent directories, and the 1901 insurance map, which listed this as 339 West Hastings.

The very first building that has been identified being designed by Parr and Fee in the city was in 1898, on West Hastings Street for the New England Furniture Co. That company appears to never have taken up residence in the city, so it’s quite possible that this was the building they commissioned. (There’s no record specifically identifying Vancouver Hardware commissioning the architects – we only have the attribution because of the brochure image).

We know which tradesmen contributed to the building – the Vancouver Cornice and Roofing Company on Seymour Street, W N O’Neil supplied the plate glass and steel beams, Barr and Anderson carried out the plumbing, George Hinton the electrical wiring and fittings and Vancouver Electrical Works the electrical work. W J Beam supplied the sashes (not the centre-hung widows found on many Parr and Fee buildings) and E Cook was the building contractor.

A O Campbell, the manager of Vancouver Hardware, was a pioneer, having been in the city when it was created. He was clerk at the Hastings Mill store in 1880, a partner with E W Ogle in a dry goods, clothing and gents furnishings store in New Westminster in 1889, and as a hardware merchant as Campbell & Andersin in New Westminster in 1893. By the late 1890s he was managing Vancouver Hardware, and the 1901 street directory has him living at 325 Princess Street (E Pender Street today). The census says he was aged 38, living with his 27 year old wife Violet and their daughter Dorothy in her parent’s house.

John and Mary Bannerman owned the home, and their younger son, also called John lived with them, as well as Kamie Yasuka, their Japanese domestic. Mr Bannerman was Scottish, his wife Margaret was born in Ontario, and Mr. Campbell was born in Quebec. The 1901 census says he was Alfred O Campbell; the 1911 census (which was so often wrong) says he was Oliver A. and aged 40. Another daughter, with a name something like Alieca had been born in 1903 (the clerk’s handwriting is poor – and he was running out of ink!), and the Bannerman family were still in the same house. The domestic was now just called Lee, and the family had moved to Point Grey Road. In 1938 Mr. Campbell had retired and was living in a senior’s home.

Posted August 20, 2015 by ChangingCity in Altered, Victory Square

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Hamilton Street – north from West Pender

Hamilton north

When this picture was taken in 1899 the new courthouse was on the right, the lawyers had their offices in the Inns of Court Building at the corner of Hastings (on the left) and across the street was The Arcade, John Parr’s design for a two storey investment by Harvey Hadden (there were 18 stores on two levels, presumably taking advantage of the slope here). We saw the office building and The Arcade from a different angle in an 1896 image. The Flack Block hasn’t been built on the corner of Cambie yet, but the Commercial Hotel was completed in 1895, and is still there (although the cenotaph blocks the view from this position).

The one mystery is the 3 storey turreted building north of the Commercial Hotel. Today it’s still standing as an SRO hotel known as the Melville Rooms, numbered as 322 Cambie; BC Assessment suggest it was built in 1900 (although clearly it’s older than that). In 1901 it was shown as offices, and was numbered as 334 Cambie. In 1899 property brokers and developers B B Johnston & Co had their offices here, with Mr Johnston and Mr Howe, as well as Atlas Insurance. We know that Johnston and Howe hired G W Grant to design a new office on Hastings in 1899 and another on Granville in 1900, but it looks as if this building pre-dates Grant’s arrival in Vancouver in 1897, and Johnston & Howe were based in another building on Cordova Street at that time.

Garden, Hermon and Burwell had their offices here in 1897, (and a year or two earlier), a firm of civil engineers and land surveyors founded in 1866. J F Garden was Vancouver’s mayor from 1898 to 1900. It’s most likely this is an N S Hoffar designed building: J F Garden commissioned a building from him on Cambie Street in 1894. We can tell from other images that the turret was still on the building in 1937, but had been lost be 1946.

Image source, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-2036

Posted November 24, 2014 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing, Victory Square

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