Davie and Hornby Street – se corner

This corner of Davie and Hornby is now owned by a development company with plans to build a rental residential tower – which will be the third tower on the block. The building that’s there today isn’t of great age, or architectural merit. It was only built in 1975, so was barely six years old in the ‘before’ picture. At the time it housed a store offering the height of fashionable sleeping – Pacific Waterbeds (who moved from Burrard Street). Today it’s a rather more useful 7-11 store.

The building that was demolished to build the store was quite a bit bigger; an apartment building completed in 1910, known at the time as Rhodesia Mansions (and later the Rhodesia Rooms). That building was developed by Samuel Burris, who also developed the Cecil Hotel, with his sister, Olive Grant. Not surprisingly he hired her brother, George Grant, half of architects Grant and Henderson, to design the $15,000 investment. We’ve spotted the rooms on an early (1926) aerial photograph, but none of our usual sources of images seems to have captured it in a street view before it was demolished.

1200 Burrard, a ten storey office building completed in 1978, still dominates the corner, (full of medical offices), but the gas station across the street is likely to see a residential tower that could be 40 or more storeys; the site having been bought by a developer. (The 19 storey tower that appears at the back is Milano, a residential condo built in 1999).

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W08.36

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Posted May 27, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

1915 and 1925 Pendrell Street

These two houses were replaced by Gilmore Court in 1981 – a condo building with a decorative eastern front, and a distinctly plainer western end. When this image was photographed in 1968, an earlier rental building with the same name took up the lot to the east. The houses, and the apartment building were demolished to make way for the larger 44 unit condo.

By 1910 there were three houses on the lot; (the two in the picture and one that was built on the lane). The first to be built was 1923 Pendrell, the house on the left, (numbered as 1925 when this photo was taken). We know it was the first, because it was the only house standing shown on the 1903 version of the insurance map. Development in this part of the West End wasn’t fast – there was only one other house on the entire city block that year. A second home was also given a permit in 1903, but the first was issued to ‘O Mitchell’ – who owned, designed and built it. It cost $1,400, while the second, owned and built by Robert Kerr only cost $200. On that basis we think Mr. Kerr’s home was the second, laneway house, while the Mitchell house was the first. Although nobody called Mitchell had the initial ‘O’ in the city in 1903, the street directory shows carpenter Robert Kerr lived at 619 Hamilton Street, and so did another carpenter, Andrew Mitchell. That’s why we surmise he was a friend of Mr. Kerr, and built the house on the left of the picture, in spring 1903. Robert Kerr built the second house on the back of the lot, later that year. In 1907 a second house appeared on the street, 1915 Pendrell, and as it’s was in the ‘lost permit’ period, we don’t know who built it, although Mr. Mitchell was still in the city, and still building houses (but so was Robert Kerr, although he had moved to Point Grey).

Andrew Mitchell was aged 35 in 1903, and like his wife Mary was from Ontario. They had two children, and Andrew was listed as a builder in the city in the 1911 census. His brother James, a plasterer, and sister-in-law lived with the family on West 10th Avenue, on the corner with Birch. Robert Kerr also came from Ontario, so he may have known Andrew Mitchell before they came to Vancouver.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1348-15

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Posted May 23, 2019 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Gilford Court – 1125 Gilford Street

These two buildings look quite similar, but one is an early rental building, and the other a more recent condo. Cyril Tweedale was the developer: an investment broker and realtor who hired architects Sharp & Thompson to design the $33,000 investment property. It was completed in 1912, and it was the first structure built on the site as this end of the West End took some years to build out. It was developed by the London and Western Canada Investment Co, where Cyril Tweedale was managing director. We looked at Cyril’s history in connection with the Tweedale Block he built on East Hastings. The Investment Company were involved in both finance and insurance, specializing in handling transactions for English investors. Rents were advertised from $37.50 for a 5-room suite.

The building was demolished in 1981, (in the days when rental properties weren’t protected) and in 1984 a new Gilford Court appeared. This is a 44 unit condo building. In 1984 they cost from $72,900 – although financing that year cost over 10%. Today 2-bed units sell at over $900,000.

Image source: Jan Gates, on flickr.

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Posted May 20, 2019 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Granville Street – 800 block, west side (2)

This 1974 image of Granville Street looking north shows the edge of today’s McDonalds restaurant, the second building from the Smithe Street intersection. It was originally developed by William Catto in 1911, who we think was a Yukon doctor and mine-owner. In 1974 it was a camera store. The Plaza cinema next door dates back to 1936, designed by Thomas L Kerr, but there had been a cinema here, the Maple Leaf, from 1908. In 1974 it had become the Odeon, before the redevelopment of the adjacent buildings as a larger cinema, and more recently it has become the Venue nightclub, hosting live music and DJs.

To the north is one of the older buildings on Granville, the Vermilyea Block No. 2. (Block No. 1 was a block further south). William Blackmore designed the ornate 3-storey building in 1893 for John Vermilyea, one of the earlier settlers who arrived from Ontario in 1876 and initially had a farm in Richmond. In 1913 it became the Palms Hotel, converted for new owner F T Andrews, and run as a hotel for many years. In the 1980s the Palms was demolished, although the facade was restored and incorporated into a new Odeon Cinema, (which in turn closed several years ago).

Next door, in 1974, was a single storey building, built in 1920. It can be seen slightly better in this 1946 image (right). The permit says it was built for J F Mahon and designed by Edwards & Ames. It cost a remarkably precise $16,266. Edwards and Ames were agents, not architects, often representing the interests of members of the Mahon family. In 1974 it had a deco gothic 1935 façade, rather than the 1920 original, which was apparently designed by Thomas Kerr.

John Fitzgerald Mahon was an early Vancouver investor, who arrived in 1889 but soon returned to England leaving his brother, Edward, to look after his extensive interests in British Columbia, including lands on the North Shore and a mining town in Kootneys he named Castlegar, after his Irish ancestral home. (Edward Mahon purchased and developed the Capilano Suspension Bridge property where members of his family lived and operated the business) The family home on Hastings Street was later replaced by the Marine Building. In England John Mahon ran a private bank with another Anglo-Irish family; Guinness Mahon. When the Odeon was redeveloped to a multiplex movie theatre, a new building was developed here, linking the two older theatres which were incorporated into the new structure.

The third building that became part of the Cineplex Odeon in 1986 was still the Coronet Cinema in 1974. It had first been built as a theatre, The Globe, in 1912 for the Pacific Amusement Company, designed by D C Gregory and costing $40,000. Later it became the Paradise, with an unusual bas relief sculpted art deco façade added in 1938, also designed by Thomas Kerr. It was remodeled again in 1965, by architects Lort and Lort, but the 1930s façade was unaltered.

Odeon sold the cinema to the Empire chain in 2005, who closed the cinema several years ago, and it’s been looking for a new use ever since. Various ideas have been considered for office and retail space, including returning to three separate buildings. Now a proposal has been submitted for Cineplex (again) to take over the complex, redeveloping it as ‘The Rec Room’, with a variety of entertainment offerings including bowling, virtual reality and restaurants and bars, all under one roof.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-442 and CVA 586-4619 (extract)

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Posted May 16, 2019 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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Granville Street – 800 block, west side (1)

The corner of Smithe and Granville has a single-storey building dating back to 1910, designed and owned by Leonard Wett, and built by Lewis Yarco at a cost of $5,000. This 1913 Vancouver Public Library image shows it when Turner’s store sold Crockery, Stoves and Graniteware – and Furniture. Mr. Wett continued to own the building for several years, with repairs in 1915, 1916 and in 1920.

Leonard Wett appears in several newspapers from as early as 1896, in connection with his mining interests in the Highland Laddie, Duke and Duchess Mineral Claims north of Campbell River, although the deposits were only developed in the 1930s, producing silver and gold (and are still offering promising assay results). Although his appearance in both the census and street directories is spotty, we know he was born in Germany around 1858, arrived in Canada in 1882 and became a citizen ten years later. He apparently arrived in Vancouver two months before the 1886 fire, and initially worked in the Hastings Mill. A year after he developed the building he was shown as a baker, lodging on Richards Street. Leon Wett, a baker, was recorded in the 1891 census, but so was Leonard Wett (although there’s only one Leonard Wett in the 1891 directory). We thought it could be a duplication error – except one was shown as Lutheran, and the other as Roman Catholic, so it’s less likely they were close relatives. His death was recorded in 1955 when he was 97, survived by nieces and nephews living in Germany and the US.

The two storey building next door was originally built in 1911, designed by Higman & Doctor for William Catto, costing $9,800 to build. It was apparently rebuilt again in 1928, and has seen further regular redesigns of the façade, most recently when a McDonalds restaurant moved in. No William Catto lived in Vancouver, or even British Columbia, but there was one who visited. Dr. William Catto was a physician in Dawson, in the Yukon, but was also part owner of the Lone Star mine, one of only a handful of bedrock gold mines in the Yukon, albeit a small-scale operation. The mine produced a small amount of gold between 1911 and 1914. He was recorded as staying in Vancouver in 1912 (at the Hotel Vancouver).

Next door was the Maple Leaf Theatre. We already looked at the history of the theatre, which later became the Plaza, and more recently the Venue (a nightclub).

 

By 1951 this VPL image shows the corner unit was a ‘Silk Hat famous fruit salads’ cafe, operated by Hank Oliver who also owned the Aristocratic Restaurant chain, including one located immediately across Smithe Street. (The Plaza was showing ‘Night Without Stars’ a 1951 British black-and-white dramatic thriller film, starring David Farrar, Nadia Gray and Maurice Teynac.)

By the early 2000s the corner had the McDonalds restaurant, (seen here in 2004), but they moved next door to the adjacent building, and today there’s a sports goods store on the corner.

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Richards Street – 700 block, east side (2)

We looked at the buildings to the north of here in the previous post. Here are several modest buildings, of which two (for now) are still standing. On the left is a three storey commercial building, 726 Richards, built in 1923 by B C Stevens Co. They were a medical supply company who had operated in the city for many years, and more accurately they were the Stevens (B.C.) Company Limited. Before they developed this building they were based in the main floor of the Passlin block, three doors down the street. The company opened its first office in Western Canada in 1889 in Vancouver under the direction of George Stevens, a son of the founder of the business. The Contract Record of 1 August 1923 referenced that “Work is to start at once on a store and warehouse, to cost $20,000, at 730-748 Richards St.; owners, B. C. Stevens Co Ltd., Vancouver; architect, Franklin Cross, 448 Seymour St., Vancouver”. The address was a bit inaccurate; the building permit identifies 730 Richards. It’s possible that the single storey 738 Richards was part of the same development – the two structures share a single lot. Next door at 742 Richards was another single storey commercial building. In 1920 owner A L Hood hired A E Henderson to carry out alterations to the property there costing $2,500, but we don’t know if the single storey building is the result of that investment, or a later development.

The four storey building on the right of the picture (748 Richards) was developed by Albert J Passage and Oliver Tomlin (hence Passlin). Albert was President of the Western Canada Trust Company, worth over $300,000 before its collapse in 1913. He was an American, born in Clairmont, Minnesota, and he moved to Canada in 1892. In 1901 was in Yale, working as a clerk in the railroad office. In 1909 he was in Vancouver, working as an accountant for the Great Northern Transfer Co. His success in real estate was fast; he only formed the Financial and Real estate brokerage with Oliver Tomlin around 1910. By 1911 he was living with his wife Mary, from New Brunswick, their 3-year-old son, Victor, her father, Goodwin Passage, and her brother, Ray Passage.

With the collapse of the real estate business, and a war hitting the national economy, Albert, Mary and their son emigrated to the USA in 1916. By 1930 they were living in Mount Vernon, Westchester, New York, and had another son, Douglas, aged 8, who had been born in New York.

We’re reasonably certain Oliver Tomlin was from England, although he appears to have been missed in the 1911 Census. He shows up in Vancouver around 1908, when he was a shipper with the Albion Iron Works. A year later Passage and Tomlin were in the real estate business, with a series of permits for houses, and just one in 1910 for a larger building, this four storey apartment building on Richards, costing $35,000 and designed by W M Dodd. They sold their development to a real estate syndicate they had put together, with significant British money involved (shown by this article in the London Daily Standard from 1911). The headline shows that property bubbles are not new in the city.

By 1911 Oliver Tomlin was living in the Atlin Block on West Pender. The building in our image was known as the Passlin Hotel. (Given the conjunction of the names for this building, it seems a reasonable conjecture that Mr. Tomlin might have also developed the Atlin Block with a different partner). In 1917 Oliver Tomlin, and his English wife Louisa also emigrated to The USA, and in 1930 were living in Los Angeles. We’re reasonably confident this is the same Mr. Tomlin who was working as the Manager of a Real Estate Finance Company (and that’s why we think he was originally English)’

The Passlin block was demolished and redeveloped in 2007 as part of the L’Hermitage development which also has a hotel, two-storey retail and a condo tower. The Passlin, which was operating as an SRO hotel, was redeveloped as Doug Story Apartment residences, with 46 units managed by Coast Mental Health, named after an SRO resident who was a member of the Coast Resource Centre from 2001 until his death in 2006. The City of Vancouver made a small grant (of $720,000) to help fund the building, but most of the capital cost was carried by the developers, who received additional residential density for the tower. They then gave the building to the City of Vancouver as an air right parcel.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E09.36

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Richards Street – 700 block, east side (1)

Here’s a view south from West Georgia of the east side of Richards. Today it’s one of the more obvious candidates for a commercial tower, with a temporary surface parking lot on most of the site. In 1981 it still had buildings, and the user of the corner was the same then as up to last year. Budget car rental was operating in a 1948 art deco building originally designed as a car showroom for Colliers Motors.

Collier’s were a Chevrolet-Oldsmobile dealership, and Watson and Baxter were the architects; (Joseph F Watson and James Baxter). The building was one of the most flamboyantly designed streamline moderne buildings the city had seen, as this 1949 VPL image shows.

Collier’s Motors closed down in the late 1950s, and by 1981 when our phote was taken Budget car rental had taken over the lot, and the building became their office. Budget later moved across the lane, and the Colliers building became a Fido cellphone store, before it was demolished in 2007. The demolition permit was issued while the City’s workforce were on strike, and so a potential heritage designation was never considered. Ironically, that ensured that only commercial uses can be considered for the site in future, as heritage or existent non-market housing buildings are the only justifications for allowing residential development in this part of the CBD.

Next door to the 1948 building, down Richards, was the Burrard Hotel, at 712 Richards. It was designed by Dalton and Eveleigh for E E Hewson (who was an absentee owner, working as a lawyer in Nova Scotia) which opened in 1910 as the St Regis Hotel. Beyond that was a smaller hotel at 722 Richards. It was developed in 1923 by John Murchie, a tea merchant who ran his business here, while his family lived upstairs. In 1964 it became home to the William Tell restaurant, run by Swiss-born Erwin Doebeli. The restaurant moved to Beatty Street in 1983, and the site has been cleared for many years, although surrounded by new office towers it probably won’t stay that way for too long.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA Str P23

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