We’ve looked at the history of the Boulder Hotel (on the right) some years ago, and we looked at it again more recently. On the corner on the left is the Rainier Hotel – we also looked at the history of this building several years ago. Beyond is one of the oldest buildings in the city – and certainly the grandest of the city’s early buildings; the Dunn – Miller Block. We’ve looked at parts of it in various posts – the buildings removed to build it in 1889 were featured here, and we’ve seen odd bits of the façade, like Clarke & Stuart’ s store in 1898, as well as how it looked in the 1960s. Here’s how it looked in 1990.
The Dunn – Miller block, it turns out, wasn’t really a complete building – more a unified façade designed by N S Hoffar, with a variety of businesses adding their own premises behind. A good example of this is the Crown Hotel, that occupied 75 feet of façade slightly to the west of the central portion of the block in 1912, as this extract from the Goad’s insurance map shows. It was numbered as 22-28 Cordova Street. Before 1911 there was a hotel called the Crown here; when the building was first completed in 1889 all the retail units were occupied, and there were few tenants listed on upper floors (including a real estate office and a barrister at 44 Cordova). By 1892 it looks as if 22 Cordova was in residential use – it’s difficult to imagine why a streetcar conductor would have an office here.
In 1894 John Decker was running the Crown Saloon on Carrall Street. Two years later it was listed as the Crown Hotel, but reverted to the Crown Saloon two years after that. From 1907 the Crown Hotel is listed at this address, still run by John Decker. John was originally from Germany, arriving in Canada in 1886. His wife Alice was American, and their three children, John, Willie and Alice were all born in BC. In 1909 Mrs Alma Peterson’s jewellery store was on the main floor at 26 and Zarelli’s confectionary store at 26 1/2 (replaced by the Imperial Restaurant in 1910) and Joseph Sudmin’s clothing store at 28.
In 1911 the hotel was rebuilt at a cost of $30,000; accordiung to the building permit it was designed by ‘F Gardner’ – actually Francis Gardiner, brother of architect W F Gardiner. The owner at the time was a surprise to us; a Chinese businessman, Lung Kee. It’s likely that this was L O Kee who also imported dry goods at an East Hastings address. In 1912 the street directory shows the Crown Hotel being run by Alfd Manson, prop, 22-24 Cordova W. The bartender was Hans Christian, who lived in the Stanley Hotel (across the street). John Decker had moved on to run the Traveller’s Hotel on Abbott Street with A Burr, and was living on Haro Street in the West End.
A Lung family household of at least 7 members residing in Vancouver was recorded in the 1901 census. The head of household, Kee Lung, was born in China in 1851. The census identified his heritage as Chinese and showed he immigrated to Canada 27 years prior in 1874 when he was 23 years old. By 1901, at the age of 50, he had an occupation that was recorded as “Store Keeper”. Kee’s wife was Kee Mary Lung, who was 30 years old. Mary was born in China in 1870. Also identifying her heritage as Chinese, she immigrated to Canada in 1884 (when she would have been 14 years old). There were five children, 4 boys and a girl. In 1889 their eldest child, a boy named Mahie, was born. One year later, in 1890, when Kee was 39 years old and Kee Mary was 20 years old their second son, Man King, was born. In 1892 their daughter, Kee Ma Han, was born followed in 1898 by Malang, a boy and in 1901 by another son, Mashe. In 1901 the Lung family children’s ages were 3, 5, 8, 10, and 11 years.
The Crown stayed in business for many years, but reverted to offering managed rooms rather than a full service hotel. From time to time the building continued to have Chinese connections – either in terms of the café downstairs, or who ran the hotel. In 1919 it was listed as the Crown Hotel Rooms, run by K Kawano, while the bar was run by S Swaboda. Two years later the rooms were run by Samuel Riardan, and two years after that, C Hiraki. Although the hotel continues to be listed, there’s no proprietor associated with it. By 1926 the bar wasn’t mentioned, but there was a Crown Café, (Chinese) run by John Hing. In 1930 K Kosaka was running the Hotel Rooms, and the Beer Parlour was shown as being back in business at 28 W Cordova with J Shelling and A Didinsky running the bar. The Crown Café was now the Sunset Café, shown at the same address. At 22, J Grimaldi was running the Crown Jewelry store.
The depression seems to have had an affect on the businesses: in 1934 the Rooms were still operating but the jewelers had become Crown Tailors, selling second hand clothing, and the bar isn’t mentioned, although the Sunset Café is still being run by Jon Hing. In 1939 K Kosaka is still running the rooms, but the café had become the Golden Café, run by Sam Wong. During the war the Café became the Victory Café – a bit premature in 1942. No longer Chinese, it was run by G Maystovich. Mrs K Kosaka was running the Crown Hotel Rooms. By the end of the war, everything changed again. The Cansino Hotel, run by Mann Kuan and Wo Joon is shown at 24 W Cordova, and Harvey’s Boot Factory had occupied 28. We saw that business located a bit further up the street in an earlier post. The Cansino was still in business with one of the same owners a decade later, (M and S Kuan and C T Chan).
The Army and Navy store restored elements of the Classical-style façade in a remodelling of the entire store completed in 1974 that extends to Hastings Street (with a lane still bisecting the upper floors of the store).
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-427
Here’s another building that, like the Salvation Army Citadel across the street, is in a second incarnation in the same location. Like the Citadel, it’s unlikely to be around too much longer, although the role of a church here is expected to continue in the future. It’s said to be seen here in a 1931 photograph – although we have doubts. That’s because it has a sign on the side proclaiming ‘Ramsay MacDonald’. There’s nobody in the city of that name (we checked!) but there was the British politician of that name who was a former Labour Prime Minister and who visited the city in 1928, when he dedicated the Robert Burns statue in Stanley Park. He was also a Presbyterian.
The first church here is the wooden structure in our image, erected around 1893. It was the East End Presbyterian Church, probably designed by C Y H Sansom. We’re relying on an 1892 newspaper report from that year: “The plans for the new East End Presbyterian church have just been completed by architect C. Y. H. Sansom. The edifice is to be built of stone and brick and will have an imposing appearance. It will have a seating capacity of 1,100 and is estimated to cost in the neighborhood of $25,000. The basement will contain four rooms for Sunday school purposes, also furnaces and heating apparatus, which will be of the Smead – Dowd system. The seats will be placed in a semi – circular fashion similar to those in the Congregational church. All the modern improvements will be introduced, and when completed the edifice bids fair to compare favorably with any in the city.”
Clearly the structure as built wasn’t of brick and stone construction – it’s wooden, making a serious attempt to look brick-like, although the foundations of the building were stone. We’re assuming that Mr. Sansom retained the commission for the church’s design and didn’t storm off the job when he discovered the budget wouldn’t stretch to brick. It was replaced with the building that’s there today in 1964. The architect was James Earl Dudley; he moved here in the mid 50’s and lived in the UBC endowment lands where he went to the United Church. He also designed the new United Church on the University Boulevard, and that was the connection to him designing this church. Today the church also serves as a low-barrier shelter, although at a significantly reduced level compared to a few years ago when it operated controversially as a 200-bed dormitory. Today it provides 60 beds each night– space for 40 men and 20 women. Shelter residents have 24-access to the building and are provided three meals a day, seven days a week. The church partner with Carnegie Outreach Team and BC Housing to help shelter residents transition to appropriate permanent housing.
Longer term redevelopment plans are reported to intend to retain a church, possibly a continued shelter use, and other non-market housing.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Ch N75.2
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
1161 Granville Street is today the St Helen’s Hotel, designed (according to the building permit) by Parr and Fee for G A Lees and H F Maskell and completed in 1911. It was built by Hemphill Brothers and cost $60,000, and opened in December 1911. In the newspapers, the street directory and on the 1912 insurance maps it’s identified as the Barron Hotel Annex. The Barron was across the street, a block to the south, also designed by Parr and Fee, and later known as the Belmont Hotel; today it’s the Comfort Inn. In its first year the Annex was run by T S Brophy, who was also ran the Hotel Barron with his wife and Mrs O G Barron.
It appears that the development of the Annex was a one-off business partnership between a retailer and a real estate broker. G Albert Lees was a partner with Joseph N Raybould of Lees and Raybould, (or Reabould, or Rabould – depending on which entry – in the same directory – is accurate), running a clothing store from this address. We’re favouring Raybould as Joseph N Raybould was in Toronto in 1900 in partnership with his brother as Raybould Brothers, butchers. George A Lees was the alternate record of his name, and he’s also likely to have arrived in Vancouver from Ontario. In 1901 he was listed as a merchant lodging with his brother Andrew and his family – Andrew was 21 years older, also a clothing merchant, living at 909 Richards with a business in the Flack Block.
H F Maskill (sic) was Humbert F Maskill, a real estate promoter with J F Maskill (both living in the Terminal City Club in 1912). With a name like that, Mr. Maskill was easy to track down. He was Irish, recorded as Maskell in the 1911 Census (but Maskill in all the street directory records) and shown as being aged 22 when he arrived in Canada in 1902. His brother, Joseph Francis Maskill was living at a hotel; also a broker, one year older than his brother, he had arrived from Ireland in 1906.
The Hotel Barron and Barron Annex were run in conjunction with each other, run by the Barron Co, Ltd. This was the business empire run by Colonel Oscar G. Barron with his brother William, owner of a string of hotels in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The family were from Hartford, Vermont, and Oscar and William ran Barron, Merrill & Barron Company with other hotels in Florida, Boston and Bermuda. He visited the Pacific Northwest when his daughter got married in Seattle, and headed off on her honeymoon to Honolulu and the Orient. The Colonel took a tour of the area, and despite claiming to have had no intention of building anything when he arrived, was immediately impressed with the fast-growing city, and decided to invest in one of the city’s largest hotels. The Barron name remained associated with the hotel for several years; in 1917 the hotel (and presumably the Annex) was being managed by C A Johnson, and in 1920 W D Wood was the proprietor. By then business would have been affected by the war, and the Annex was no longer associated with the hotel – it had become the St Helen Rooms, a name it retains today. In 1921 it was advertised as offering furnished rooms: “transients; housekeeping and sleeping rooms; good elevator service”. R H Moore was the proprietor in 1920.
We haven’t identified the developer of the building to the south, which appears for the first time in the 1912 street directory as a branch of the Northern Crown Bank. Almost the entire block was undeveloped in 1903, so this was almost certainly the first structure built here. By 1920 it had become the French Way Cleaners – a business that remained here for a remarkably long time – at least 30 years.
Our 1978 image shows the buildings with their original windows – a pair of bay windows on 1167/69, and the trademark centre pivoted sash windows of a Parr and Fee building. The hotel was bought by BC Housing in 2007, and has been repaired and now managed as an 86 unit non-market SRO Hotel.
We looked at 712 Richards Street – the larger building – in an earlier post. It was developed in 1910 by E E Hewson, a Nova Scotia businessman, designed by Dalton and Eveleigh and built by Baynes and Horie. When it was built, and for over a decade after, there was a house to the south (shown in the earlier post). It was occupied by the Murchie family; John, who ran the Orient Tea Co, based initially (in Vancouver) on Cordova, and later on Pender Street (where Douglas and James Murchie were both clerks with the tea company). The company history says John Murchie immigrated to Canada from Scotland in 1894 and founded Murchie’s Tea & Coffee in New Westminster, BC. It also says that long before that, John had started his career in the tea industry with Melrose’s of Scotland, a prestigious tea import merchant in Britain.
John was first shown in Vancouver selling tea on Cordova in 1896. In 1901 some of his family were working with him at that address, John was managing with Grant and John R Murchie both clerks. They were living on W 2nd and the Census that year shows John was aged 45, his wife Sarah was 34. The census return suggests a different early history than the Murchie’s website – John had arrived in Canada in 1879 and Sarah and their older children were shown being born in New Brunswick. That ties in with a John Murchie of the right age living in Bathurst, Gloucester, New Brunswick in 1881; a clerk living as a lodger in the Grant household. He was shown as being a Bible Christian; in 1901 he was described as Brethren. In 1901 the children were Grant, aged 17; John R, 15 and Catherine, 12 – they were all born in New Brunswick. Gertrude who was 11, Archibald, 9; James, 7; Helena, 4; Hedley, 3 and Nicolas 2 months were all born in BC.
In 1911 all of the family were still at home, which was shown as 722 Richards. The clerk who recorded the family had horrible spidery handwriting, and some strange changes to the names. John’s wife is Annie, and their eldest daughter is shown as Chatrien. Nicolas is shown as Ninian, (and his birth certificate shows he was Nicolas Ninian Murchie) and there’s a final addition to the family; Douglas.
From August 1923 the street directory showed the Murchie family living at 720 Richards, and the Tea Company having moved to 722. That suggested to us that the building was developed by John earlier that year, and indeed there was a building permit in March 1923 for F. T. Sherborne to build a $6,000 store/office for him. Mr. Sherborne was a building contractor with an office on Granville Street and a home on Nicola Street, and we assume he designed the building as no architect was listed. In 1928 the insurance map shows the tea company occupying the main floor with a dwelling above. By 1930 the family had moved to 714 Homer, but the tea company was still at 720 Richards. A decade later Sarah A Murchie, widow of John lived at 720 Homer with James (proprietor of Orient tea) and Gertrude. John R Murchie had a rival business, Eureka Tea, on Dunsmuir Street. The family were once again ‘living over the shop’ – Orient Tea was also based at 720 Homer. By 1950 James D Murchie was running Murchie’s Tea Co on Robson Street, But John D Murchie was shown running the Orient Tea Co on Homer. That year 722 Richards was home to The Steak House; in 1940 it had been Jordan’s Café.
By 1981, as our image shows, 722 Richards had become the William Tell restaurant. The restaurant opened in 1964, run by Swiss-born Erwin Doebeli. The building was said to have been abandoned and mice-infested when he took it over, but became a success after initially struggling. In 2004 Doebeli reminisced with the Georgia Straight The first menu featured Prince Rupert shrimp cocktail or B.C. smoked salmon for a buck. “And, naturally, consommés, which is very European,” he says. Salad – then considered rabbit food – came with Roquefort or French dressing. You could have tournedos Rossini ($4.50, and someone claimed his prices were expensive) and pick Calona Crackling Rosé or real French Beaujolais off the wine list. Behind the scenes, tempers were uncorked too. Doebeli went through chefs like a hot knife through butter, 14 in the first eight months, until, he says, he became smart enough to realize that chefly pride needed to make its own mark on the menu.
The William Tell introduced Vancouverites (or at least those who hadn’t travelled to Europe) to the cheese fondue – it featured on the business’s postcards (where you can get an idea of the décor as well). The William Tell continued in business for more than 40 years, transferring across to Beatty Street in 1983, and closing in 2010, (when a review said the fondue was the only meatless item on the dinner menu.)
Today it’s a parking lot for a car hire company – waiting for the developer owner to finally take the plunge and build a commercial building that fits the Central Business District Zoning.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E09.35
We recently looked at this block further down the hill in 1974. Here’s an image shot in 1981 a bit further south. The building on the corner is, we suspect, quite a bit older than it appears. It’s addressed as 501 West Georgia, and dates back to 1908. This image shows it’s appearance has evolved quite a bit over the years, although the dimensions of the building remain consistent, so the frame may well be 108 years old.
The buildings running north down the hill have remained remarkably unchanged for a 35 year interval. The back of the Bay’s parkade is here – although one day it will finally get redeveloped. Apparently underneath the observation tower of the Harbour Centre, Dunsmuir House (the former Dunsmuir Hotel) is also awaiting restoration and is in the meantime boarded up. It’s owned by the same owners as the parkade, and eventually almost all this block will be redeveloped.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E05.32
Today’s Salvation Army Citadel at Gore and East Hastings was called “as modern as tomorrow” when it opened in February, 1950. Today it could be more accurately described as “as tired as the day before yesterday”. It’s days may be numbered as the owner since 2001, Vancouver Coastal Heath, have no use for it, and recently BC Housing issued an Request For Proposals for a non-market housing design for the site. Mercer and Mercer designed the monumental building in a somewhat retro art deco style (twenty years after the height of that style, in 1950). When it was built there was an auditorium, a gym in the basement and a kitchen and offices. It wasn’t the first Salvation Army building on the site – that was the building shown here in this 1950 Walter Frost image.
It opened in 1907, and it too boasted offices and a 600 seat auditorium. The hotel (the Hotel Welcome) behind on Gore was also run by the Salvation Army as a hostel for 100 men, with a library and other facilities. The press coverage of the day didn’t identify an architect, but the way that it had been designed with the experience of the Army in it’s work in other cities suggests it may have been the work of a Toronto architect, or a talented officer within the Army. There was also a basement ‘clean-up’ facility, where loggers could get a shower and a shave, and burn any rubbish (or verminous clothes) so that they could rejoin ‘civilized’ society and find a room in one of the many hotels in the area that catered to their needs through the winter season when logging and mining stopped. The auditorium had an arrangement that the Army’s Commissioner, from his Toronto office, thought worthy of replicating across the country. The chairs were arranged with their back legs in a trough that ran across the room, allowing them to remain in place to ensure the order the Army preferred, while allowing them to me manoeuvred singly when necessary.
It was still operating in 1923 when the Daily World reported “A man may be down but he Is never out.” This well known slogan of the Salvation Army is the first thing one thinks of on entering the Hotel Welcome, which is the big brick building with the geraniums in the windows, on Gore Avenue and Hastings Street. Here the Salvation Army has established a self – supporting home a small hotel which is a veritable refuge to the man who may be temporarily short of funds. “We never turn a man away, whether he has money or not, as long as we have enough beds to go around,” said Captain J. Birchall, the other rainy afternoon, as he concluded an informal tour of inspection. ‘The charge for the night is 30 cents. We don’t supply meals here, but we give the men meal tickets if they are short of cash and they are welcome to stay here until we can find them jobs. Often odd jobs, such as gardening and window cleaning, help to put a man on his feet when he is down on his luck. We try to help a man climb back, if he wants to.”
There is accommodation for fifty men in the Hotel Welcome, and a few emergency cots can be set up if the place is crowded. It usually is full. Instead of a dormitory system there are private bedrooms and single beds. Downstairs In the reception hall, where in pleasantly chintz – hung windows red geraniums bloom, there are many books on a big table, lots of comfortable chairs, pictures on the walls and a general air of homeliness that one can imagine must be very grateful to men who are at loose ends with life. A black cat purred comfortably in the lap of a man over in the window reading a well – thumbed copy of a History of the War. Captain Birchall and the janitor run the hotel, and when men stay there, waiting for jobs, as they often do, they too, “pitch in,” Captain Birchall says, and help keep house. “It’s more like a home than a hotel, I can tell you,” said a man with the Cockney accent. And three or four men sitting around listening to the rain splashing against the windows nodded approval. Across the street is the Salvation Army industrial store, where Captain Birchall spends part of his time when he is not finding work for men who need it, and doing other odd Jobs such, as writing out meal tickets and visiting the sick.
This wasn’t even the first building here – that would be the Windsor House; Miss Helen Ostrom prop. The Salvation Army moved out of their premises in 1982, and in 1984 it was sold to the Gold Buddha Monastery for $900,000. The Monastery sold it in 2001, when it moved to a new building in Mount Pleasant.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-302