Archive for the ‘West End’ Category
The Beaconsfield is one of the earlier apartment buildings built in the West End. Completed in 1910, the building permit tells us it was designed by J S D Taylor and built by McLean & Fulton at a cost of $85,000. The developer was A J Woodward. The building’s features include the bays filled with wooden balconies and some art nouveau details, with a slightly incongruous Palladian style window in the recessed entrance court.
We’re reasonably confident that Mr. Woodward was unrelated to the Woodward family who were rapidly expanding their Downtown departmental stores. We don’t believe he was (at the time of the building’s construction) a Vancouver resident; we think that it’s Arthur Joseph Woodward, the owner of the Vancouver Floral Company, living in Victoria. (There was another Arthur J Woodward in Vancouver, but as a bartender living in rooms, he seems an unlikely developer)
The Victoria based Arthur was born in England, as was Adelaide, his wife, and according to the 1911 census had arrived in 1905 with at least eleven children, all still living at home in 1911, aged from six to twenty-seven. In fact Mr. Woodward had arrived in 1888, and established a large seed and floral business with significant glasshouses and nurseries in both Ross Bay in Victoria and in Kerrisdale.
In 1914 The Woodward family built a new British Arts & Craft style home in Saanich. Five years earlier A J Woodward had paid for the construction of a new Gospel Hall in the 1100 block of Seymour Street. We’re pretty confident that it’s the same developer as the apartment building because the architect and builder were the same, (apparently Mr. Taylor’s first Canadian design). For many years this building was ‘women only’, offering apartments to nurses at St Paul’s Hospital.
Today the building still offers rental apartments, although the street is closed and the tree canopy almost hides the entire structure in summer, and the cornice has been lost.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives M-11-57
Here’s the only Vancouver residential apartment building designed by San Francisco architects Wright, Rushforth & Cahill. Wright was the lead partner, and originally from England, but Bernard Cahill was the likely designer, from San Francisco. It dates from 1910, and was completed a year later. The building permit estimated a cost of $100,000, but as designs were clarified the cost was raised to $157,000. In submitting the permit, the architects (who had opened a Vancouver office) claimed to be the builders This was unlikely to be true; they co-ordinated the trades who were the builders: the Wells Construction company carried out the initial site works of excavation and basement construction.
The developers were the Pacific Investment Corporation, and the Contract Record published some of the details of the project: “There will be 82 apartments in all, comprised as follows: 56 3-room, 22 4-room, 2 5-room and 2 2-room. In addition, there is a store on the comer suitable for grocer or druggist. Provision is also made for a cafe below the ground floor on Davie street, with stairway from the entrance vestibule. The basement will contain the heating plant, hot water service, vacuum cleaning plant, storage rooms, and janitor’s quarters. For the convenience of tenants, there will be dumb waiters, messenger and telegraph call boxes, mail chutes, patent sanitary garbage chutes, and vacuum cleaning system. Near the passenger elevator will be a ‘phone with connection to each apartment.”
The Pacific Investment Corporation’s fiscal agents were Wolverton & Co, run (in Vancouver) by Alfred N Wolverton and managing stocks, bonds and investments in real estate and timber. Newton Wolverton was president of Wolverton & Co, but was based in Nelson. He was president of Sunset Mills (a lumber company) and of Pacific Investment Corporation. He was born in Ontario, had an extraordinary career; he obtained a law degree, became Principal of Woodstock College (a Baptist training college) and then of Bishop College University in Texas from 1897 to 1903. He then became Superintendent of the Brandon Experimental Farm before moving to BC to take up finance and real estate in 1907.
It appears that the building is still owned today by the a company with the same name, which may well have been an investment vehicle to develop the building. The investment opportunity was offered in February 1910: “The Pacific Investment Corporation, Limited, has purchased for the sum of $25,000 a double corner, 132×132 feet, the southeast coiner of Davie and Jervis streets, the very finest apartment building site in Vancouver’s exclusive West End. (It is immaterial that the company his since been offered $27,000 for this property). The company is going to erect the finest and most up-to-date six-storey apartment block in Western Canada on the business unit system and the estimated cost of property and building is $135,000. The company is now placing on the market 750 business units at par $100 each $25 cash, balance in two, four and six months, without interest. About one-third of these units is already subscribed.”
Our image dates from around 1911, when the building was featured in a postcard now in the BC Archives collection. As far as we know the store, and lower level café were never built. Bernard Cahill’s buildings after Holly Lodge include the Multnomah Hotel in Portland, also still standing today.
The Begg Motor Company were the city’s first car dealership. Their first location was on east Hastings, then they moved to Seymour Street, and then in 1912 to a new building on the south side of W Georgia Street. Begg Motors began selling Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, Hudson, Chalmers and Dodge Bros. cars along with Republic and National trucks. The company later extended its buildings on the back of the property through to Thurlow Street, ending up as a full line Chrysler dealership and also selling Fargo trucks. Here’s how their premises looked around 1920; by this time they also had dealerships in Victoria and New Westminster.
Frank and Fred Begg were from Lindsay, Ontario, and arrived in the city in 1898. By the time they built their new premises in 1912 they had done pretty well, although they seem to have realized things weren’t going quite as well for the economy, and scaled back their initial plans. The 1912 permit for their new building described it as 5 storeys high, costing $60,000 and designed by M E Williams, but as built it had only three floors – that’s it on the left.
In 1916 a $15,000 addition was approved, including the addition to the west, and also at the back and along Thurlow. The Dominion Construction Co built both projects, and they were the builders of the only two projects we can find designed by M E Williams, which makes us wonder if he acted as their in-house designer. Mark Williams was listed as an architect in the 1912 street directory; the only year he appears in the city. There was no architect hired for the 1916 addition – the Begg Motor Company designed it themselves.
Musson Cattell Mackey designed the 1974 16 storey office tower for the Prudential that now sits on the site.
Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives Trans N12 and M-11-81
The upper floors of building haven’t really changed much since it was built in 1909. According to the building permit it cost $20,000 and was designed by A J Bird for J Seabold. (The Contract Record said Seabold and Roberts were the developers. We haven’t successfully identified who John Seabold’s development partner was.) In 1991 four dwelling units were converted to retail use, so there are now just 10 apartments in the building, but there were more in this 1924 image. The Daily World, in announcing the development, said “the design will be of classic character”.
John A Seabold developed a number of other apartment buildings around the city, including the Empire Hotel on East Hastings, our first post on this blog. He started out building houses, then apartments, and eventually was in partnership as Seabold and Roberts, building significant buildings for the day including Blenheim Court two blocks further along Davie Street.
Seabold was an American, and the source of his success was explained in a story published in an Indiana newspaper in November 1909; the Jasper Weekly Courier, published in Jasper, Dubois County. He was quoted saying that Western real estate “is better than a gold mine”. In 1913 he acquired the Clarence Hotel on West Pender Street. However, Mr. Seabold’s perspective changed quite quickly. Vancouver changed significantly from the city that only a few years earlier had elected a Jewish German mayor with a noticeable accent, David Oppenheimer.
A 1917 article in another Indiana newspaper, the Bluffton Chronicle, clarifies a point we’ve noted about several other Vancouver residents during the First World War. If there was any suggestion of German family origins it was wise to change your name or move south. The 1911 Census said that John was from a German family, but had been born in the USA. He was married to Louise, also born in the USA into a German family and they had a son, Ralph aged nine. John and Louise Schwartz were married in Michigan in 1900. They were shown having arrived in Canada in the same year, and appeared as John and Louisa Seabold in the 1901 census, lodging with Minnie Matthias. At that time John was a waiter, while in 1911 he was shown as a builder.
The 1917 news story explains that Mr. Seabold had tried to sell his property, but ‘found this impossible’. That wasn’t necessarily anything to do with Mr. Seabold’s origins – the economy of the city hit the skids around 1913, and the war didn’t improve things.
The main reason for heading to the USA was being drafted into the Canadian forces, which would have potentially have seen Mr. Seabold (who was aged 40 when the war broke out), expected to fight in Europe. The newspaper reported that some of Mr. Seabold’s property had been confiscated, presumably as a result of his decision to leave the country.
In 1944 Ralph Seabold was married in Los Angeles, and John and Louise were living there in both the 1930 and in 1940 US Census records. They moved south to California in the 1930s; in 1920 they were living in Seattle where John was working as a contractor.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N324.
We’re looking along Beach Avenue in the 1960s in an Archives image that was shot by Leslie Sheraton. On the right is the Sylvia Hotel, and on the extreme left is the last remaining building on the water side of the street; Englesea Lodge. Like the Sylvia Hotel, Englesea Lodge was designed by W P White, a Seattle architect. In some ways it had a similar design, with brick cladding although it’s the base rather than the upper story that has a white finish. It was smaller than the Sylvia, two storeys shorter, and cost less to build – the Permit was issued in 1911 and E Cook built it for $115,000.
The developer listed on the permit was Annie Davidson, although the Province newspaper said it was built for A A Davidson. The Davidsons arrived in Vancouver from Victoria, where Augustus Alexander Davidson ran the jewelery store that traded as Davidson Brothers. His brother, Cicero Davidson, ran the Vancouver store, and also invested in real estate, building an apartment building and a retail building, both still standing today.
It looks as if Augustus (although he seemed to have been known by both of his names at different times) and Annie arrived in the city around the turn of the century. They were first shown in the 1900 Street Directory when A A Davidson was a partner with his brother in the jewelery business, and also had a real estate office. The family briefly lived on Melville Street, but then moved a block away from Cicero on Burrard Street. The 1901 Census shows Alexander aged 38, born in New York and coming to Canada in 1864. That birth date is at odds with his marriage and death certificates, which are more likely to be accurate, which show him born in 1864. He married Annie McKeil Adams, aged 21 who had been born in Victoria in 1893 when he was shown to be born in Lockport, New York. According to the 1901 census his brother Cicero was born in Ontario 1859, but the 1871 and 1881 census records only show Augustus living with a brother called Freman, born in 1862 in the US. Augustus was shown living with his mother, Mary Jane (34) and older brother Freman Davidson in Guelph in 1871, and both boys were shown born in the US. Augustus and Freman were still in Guelph in 1881, but living with John Davidson aged 49 and his wife Elsie, who was aged 39. That makes us think that Cisero may have changed his name (from Freman, or Freeman) when he moved west, abandoning the even more unusual father’s mother’s family name.
In 1897 both Augustus and his brother, Cicero were two of the four owners of a $250,000 mining company, Winchester Gold Mines of Fairview, Victoria, formed to purchase the Winchester claim in Yale. The same year they were also partners in the $250,000 Shamrock Mining Co with the intent of taking over the Shamrock claim in Osoyoos. Cicero was also briefly a defendant in a case against the Orphan Boy Gold Mining Company on McCulloch Creek where the owners (including C N Davidson) were accused of defrauding shareholders. Augustus seems to have maintained active involvement in the region’s mining activity, but there’s no mention of Cicero retaining an interest.
In 1911 Augustus and his family were living at 2030 Beach Avenue, which is where the lodge was built a year later. The notoriously unreliable 1911 census shows A A Davidson was aged 44, born in 1867 (five years older than the previous census held ten years earlier had suggested). Annie was shown as aged 40, (so she had added eleven years in a decade). While in 1901 they had a son, Randolf aged 7 and another, Douglas aged 4, ten years later there was John, aged 18, Douglas aged 14 and a daughter, Elsie, who was 7. (We assume John and Randolf are the same child, following the family preference for name switching to try to confuse future historians).
Augustus died in 1950 aged 85; Annie was 88 when she died in 1960. Eve Lazarus chronicled the end of the Lodge in 1981. The City of Vancouver had acquired all the property along the waterfront, and while the houses had been cleared away and the park extended to the street, the Lodge was too big to treat in quite the same way. It cost the City $375,000 in 1967, and although rents covered the cost of purchase, by 1975 it was decided to demolish it anyway to complete the undeveloped park. Then that decision was reversed and in 1980 29 of the 45 apartments remained occupied, and there was talk from the city of investing $1.3 million to turn the building into senior’s housing. In February 1981 a suspicious fire was set, the fire brigade were said to have been instructed to let it burn, and with the lucky outcome of no injuries or deaths the Park Board had a contiguous park along the foreshore.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 2009-001.106
The published accounts will tell you that the much-loved Sylvia was built by Abraham Goldstein, and named for his daughter, Sylvia. The hotel started life as the Sylvia Apartments, and was named for Mr. Goldstein’s eldest daughter. However, according to his marriage certificate Mr Goldstein’s name was Adolf, and he was born in Russia, and the 1901 census has him as Adolph, born in Germany, while in the 1911 census he was shown as A D Goldstein and being born in Poland. Eastern European borders were often changing and confused, but it’s almost certain that Mr. Goldstein came from the Pale of Settlement, the area of Russia created by Catherine the Great in 1791 that Jewish settlers were allowed to move to. His wife, Sarah Jonas, came from Timaru, New Zealand, and they married in Vancouver in October 1899, and first show up in the Street Directory in 1900. Sarah’s father was known as Moss, but he had been born Moses Jonas, in Brighton, England, became a seaman and having moved to Timaru was an auctioneer, built a theatre, the town’s synagogue, and was elected mayor.
In 1903 A D Goldstein was a manufacturer’s agent living on Pender Street (the same occupation as in the 1901 census), but by 1906 he was shown as a financial broker. The family are identified on the 1911 census with 11-year-old Sylvia, Cyril, aged eight and Aileen who was two. Sarah’s sister, Clara Gossage was living with them, and so was J M Goldstein, Adolph’s brother, and a four year old nephew. There was also a domestic servant, K F Pearson.
In 1913 when his $250,000 investment, designed by Seattle architect W P White and built by Booker, Campbell & Whipple was completed, Mr. Goldstein was still listed as Adolph, still a financial broker, living on Pendrell St. (He had G H Moon design alterations to his home and added a garage, also in 1913). Isaac Goldstein was working with him, living on Nelson Street. In 1914 Mr. Goldstein’s name appears for the first time as Abe, no doubt in part because having a German name wasn’t necessarily a comfortable experience at that time. Isaac Goldstein appears to have left the city around 1916.
In 1923 Abe D Goldstein is shown as the proprietor of the Sylvia Apartments, and Cyril is shown living at home on Pendrell, working as a law student at Tupper and Bull. Sylvia was at home as well. The family moved to the US that year. In 1930 Abraham and Sarah were living in Los Angeles with their son, Cyril. Sylvia went with them, having obtained a degree from UBC. However, she returned to Vancouver, and while taking a boat trip with a group of Jewish singles caught the attention of her future husband, Harry Ablowitz, by diving off the boat into False Creek. (She was a strong swimmer, having been taught by Joe Fortes). The couple were married in 1928 and settled in North Vancouver, later founding a realty company.
Both Sylvia and Harry Ablowitz were active in the Vancouver business community and in numerous Jewish organizations. Sylvia sat on the board of many Jewish community groups and helped to establish the Jewish Community Centre, the Louis Brier Home, a hospital at Oak and 41st Avenue and a golf course. She was a member of the National Council of Jewish Women and, until her mid-90s, was still volunteering her services with the Jewish Family Service Agency, doing telephone checks for isolated seniors. She died at UBC hospital aged 102.
Our image shows the hotel in 1932 when it was still surrounded by houses and dominated the newly-planted street. In 1936, the Sylvia Hotel, then in receivership, was transformed into an apartment hotel and by the beginning of the Second World War, many of the suites had been converted into single rooms. While many hotels in Vancouver ended up as apartments or SRO hotels, the Sylvia went the opposite way. By the 1960s it had become a full-service hotel. Prior to the building boom in the West End during the 1960s, The Sylvia’s dining room was on the eighth floor with a slogan of “first-class dining in the sky,” Today it has been relocated to ground floor level, and offers one of the best views out over English Bay, past the trees that in summer now obscure the view from the upper floors.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-2632
This curiously Anglicised apartment building was a 1927 design by Townley and Matheson. Sixty years later it got a dramatic makeover when it became a redeveloped condo building with a post-modern tower that kind of references the original design (whose façade was retained in the new project). The Paul Merrick designed tower has peaked gables on the top that mimic the twenties building – although the architect didn’t go quite as far as replicating the fake half-timbered look of the original. (In some ways, that could be seen as a twenties post-modern design flourish on what was really a sizeable four storey apartment box). The architects commissioned this image, which was taken a year after the building was completed. The developers’ agents were McGregor, Creery and Farmer (Wallace S McGregor, Leslie C Creery and Donald W Farmer).
The archives, who have the records of the architectural firm’s output, have an image from 1936 that show that in less than a decade the building was completely covered with foliage – presumably English ivy was selected. It totally hid the ‘Tudor’ half timber features, and changed the appearance of the building quite significantly.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1399-489 and CVA 99-4913