Davis Chambers – West Hastings Street

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This substantial office building was designed by Dalton & Eveleigh in 1905 for E P Davis. This 1974 image shows the Philippine Creations store and the Green Parrot Café on the main floor. The only office advertising on its window is for F Gorlich, Foot Specialist.

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painless-parkerFor many years this was the home of Vancouver’s most flamboyantly advertised dentist – ‘Painless Parker’. Although there really was a ‘Painless Parker’ – a dentist who changed his name from Edgar so he didn’t fall foul of the advertising authorities, he didn’t personally carry out the extractions or fillings here.

An American, he had a chain of dental offices, with this location in Vancouver operating from the 1930s to past 1950. At 1940 prices of $1 for extractions and $2 for a filling he amassed quite a fortune – By the early 1950s Parker had 28 West Coast dental offices, employing over 70 dentists, and grossing $3 million per year.

On the ground floor of this 1940 image was a store frontage for Famous Cloak and Suit Co, shared with the building to the west, the Leland Hotel Annex. As we noted in an earlier post, the building had the 1887 façade designed by N S Hoffar replaced by 1943. That in turn was obscured with the windowless sheet steel shown in the 1974 image above.

davisE P Davis, who developed the 1905 building was an Ontario-born lawyer; a partner in Davis, Marshall & Macneil, Barristers and Solicitors, based in his new building although later moving to the London Building. He was called to the bar in Calgary in 1882, and in British Columbia in 1886 when he arrived here. He lived on Seaton Street and was unanimously recommended for the Chief Justiceship British Columbia in 1902 (a postion he declined, as he had previously in 1898). Owner of a spectacular moustache, he was legal counsel to the Canadian Pacific Railway, and also a Director of Royal Collieries, Ltd. In 1912 he built a mansion designed by Samuel MacLure, on extensive grounds near the tip of Point Grey. Davis named it “Kanakla,” a West Coast native word meaning ‘house on the cliff’. Now part of UBC, it was renamed Cecil Green Park.

The Davis Chambers were replaced in 1981 by the 11 storey ‘Princess Building’. That will be the baby on the block in future if the two towers proposed for either side of it get built. There’s a 25 storey tower proposed for the east side, on the corner of Seymour, and a 28 storey office proposed to the west, on the site once occupied by the Leland Hotel Annex.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-158 and Bu P294

Posted January 12, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Pender and Granville – sw corner (3)

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We’ve see the first building that was built here in two earlier posts. It was the site of the city’s post office: a controversial and much fought-over choice of location. The Canadian Pacific Railway Co offered the Federal Government the site on Granville Street at a significant discount from its market value. Of course, the Federal Government had given CP the land a few years earlier to help them decide on Vancouver as the terminus of the railway, so it was only really returning a favour. The benefit to CP was significant – it pulled the city’s important public services westwards, away from the original Granville (the name for the Gastown original city centre) and towards CP’s own Granville; the street with their station, hotel and Opera House located some distance from civilization in the recently cleared forest.

After the Post Office operations moved out in 1910 to a newer, and even bigger building nearby, the previous post office was used for the Dominion of Canada Assay Office until 1924. In 1926 the street directory records this location as ‘under construction’ and in 1927, when this Vancouver Public Library image was taken, it housed the offices of the Northern Pacific Railway Co. (We’ve looked at their new station, built in 1919 on the reclaimed False Creek Flats, designed by Pratt and Ross of Winnipeg).

We haven’t identified the architect of this building, and initially we thought the railway company were the developers as it was called the Northern Pacific Building into the 1930s, although the railway soon stopped occupying main floor space in the building, their corner office replaced in 1935 by Christie’s Shoes. Thanks to Patrick Gunn’s research we now know it wasn’t the railway company, but Mr. A J Buttimer who developed the building, with Dominion Construction building it at a cost of $65,000. Dominion may have used their in-house designers, as no architect is identified on the permit or in the newspaper story.

A J Buttimer arrived in Vancouver in 1890, and established the Brunswick Canning Co (reflecting his New Brunswick origins). WestEndVancouver say that “He continued to be involved in the fishing industry until 1925, when he sold his interest to B.C. Packers and devoted his time to Vancouver real estate.”

Pender Place, a pair of office towers designed by Underwood, McKinley, Wilson & Smith now occupies the spot.

Posted January 9, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

64-72 West Hastings Street

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For the time being this is a vacant site, although not for much longer as the City of Vancouver are planning a 10 storey building including non-market housing here. In 1923 there was a more modest 2-storey structure shown in this Vancouver Public Library image. To the east, just coming into the edge of the shot was the Columbia Theatre, built in 1912.

We haven’t managed to definitively pin the owners and developers of these two storey buildings down, but we suspect it’s another of the investments owned by full-time architect and part-time property developer and investor Thomas Fee. He certainly appears to have been the owner when alterations and repairs were made in 1916, and Fee and Stevens were listed as owners when more extensive repairs were carried out in 1913. He even hired architect W T Whiteway to design alterations to number 70 in 1909, and Baynes and Horie to design and make repairs in 1919, following a fire.

In the picture, these buildings contained BC Barber Supply at 64 W Hastings, the United Empire Club upstairs with Stag Billiards at 68, and Samuel Cohen’s Army Surplus store at number 70. Sam’s business expanded into other premises down the street over the next few years and became the Army & Navy store. At 72 the Pacific Coast Development Co (where R H Wright was Manager) had their offices.

Posted January 5, 2017 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Post Office – Granville and West Hastings

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Here’s the Post Office building completed in 1910, and designed by David Ewart, the Government’s Ottawa based head architect of the day. This is one of the undated images from the City’s Archives. The cars suggest late 1970s or maybe early 1980s. The Granville Square tower designed by Francis Donaldson behind the Post Office was completed in 1972. It was the first (and only) tower of the Project 200 scheme that would have seen a wall of towers (and a freeway) replacing Gastown. All the other buildings in our original image were older; the extension to the Post Office was designed in 1935 by McCarter and Nairne, and the Royal Bank Tower on the eastern side of the junction also dates from the 1930s.

In the 1950s the Post Office moved out to a much larger structure, that has recently been abandoned (with many operations moving out to a new building near the airport). This building was reused as Government offices.

Today both the Post Office and the addition form part of the Sinclair Centre. Four buildings were restored and connected by a new atrium space designed by Henriquez Partners Architects and Toby Russell Buckwell Architects in 1986. If you’ve ever wondered who the Sinclair in the name was, he was James Sinclair, member of Parliament for Vancouver North and later Coast—Capilano as well as Minister of Fisheries. These days Mr. Sinclair is also known as Margaret Trudeau’s father.

A couple of years back the Federal Government, having abandoned attempts to sell the Sinclair Centre,enquired whether they could reconfigure and add to the site to create a huge million square foot office complex. The City agreed they could proceed with preliminary designs, but nothing more has been heard of the idea, (and there’s a different government in Ottawa now).

Image source; City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-454

Posted January 2, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Granville and West Pender – northwest corner

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Here’s another early and substantial (for the time) Downtown office building. It’s the Fairfield Building, designed by William Blackmore, although there’s just a tiny part of the adjacent Dunn Block to the north showing (on the right). When Walter Frost took this picture in 1946 it wasn’t going to be standing much longer; the replacement buildings that are still standing were built in 1949 and 1951. The three storey ‘New fairfield-1899Dunn Block’ was erected around 1893, and the Fairfield in 1898. The image on the right (which we can’t reproduce as a ‘before and after’ because the photographer stood on the vacant site up the street) shows the building at completion, and the adjacent earlier structure to the north. Blackmore used almost identical design elements for both buildings, and Thomas Dunn also had a hand in the Fairfield. We know he certainly supplied many of the materials because William Blackmore chose to feature the building in a promotional brochure called ‘Vancouver of Today Architecturally’.

We also know the building was developed by the Fairfield Syndicate, as work started on August 8th and was reported in the Daily World. Earlier that year the paper reported that “the buyers of this property from Thos. Dunn were the Fairfield Company, of London, and of which J. J. Lang is the Vancouver agent. The building, which is to be a large four-storey structure, will extend from the McKinnon block to the corner of Pender street and will include the present Dunn Hall, on which another storey will be erected. A feature of the building will be a fine arch on the Granville street side and the entire fronts on both streets will be of granite.” The Syndicate weren’t just building investments downtown, they also actively developed a series of mining properties throughout the province; we don’t know which endeavor was the more profitable.

Thomas Dunn’s decision to build his building on Granville Street was significant – before this he’d built in the earlier Granville area of the city, both on Cordova Street and on Water Street in Maple Leaf square. The CPR had built their station at the foot of Granville, their hotel several blocks up the street in the middle of the cleared forest, and their directors had built office buildings along the street in between. In 1895 H. McDowell Co., Ltd., Agents were based in the Dunn Block – Vancouver agents for Columbia, Cleveland and Rambler Bicycles.

In 1920, Jonathan Rogers (who owned the office building across the street) must have acquired the building as he paid $7,500 for general repairs to 445 Granville; the Dunn Block part of the building. Today the office building on the corner was designed by McCarter and Nairne and completed as the Dominion Bank building in 1949. The adjacent Canada Permanent building that replaced the Dunn Building was completed a year or two later and was also designed by the same architects. No doubt the sixty year old buildings, with their modest density, will themselves be redeveloped – most likely as an office tower, perhaps with preservation of the 1940s facades.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-286 and CVA 15-03

Posted December 29, 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1200 block West Georgia Street, south side (2)

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We looked at these buildings when they were the home of Consolidated Motors in 1931. Once Consolidated moved down the street at the end of the 1930s, McDermott Motors took over, selling Oldsmobile and Chevrolet cars. Part of the buildings (to the west) were used as a Government Armoury in the war, which is why the Archives have a picture of a large gun sat on the street in front. After the war Consolidated Motors moved back to the building on the right, 1230 W Georgia. By 1949 McDermott had moved on to a new location on Burrard Street, and Ross Baker Motors moved in. They had been in business since 1925, and became part of Wolfe Chevrolet in 1952, when they moved out of Georgia Street.

Consolidated Motors stayed for a while in the right hand building, but with new non-motoring based neighbours. The 1200 West Georgia building on the corner of Bute became the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation studios announced in early 1953 to cost one million dollar. The television studio and transmitter allowed Vancouver residents to receive the first Canadian TV programs on CBUT, Channel 2 in December 1953. By 1958 when Alvin Armstrong took this image, the CBC had expanded westwards into the other garage as well. While the outward appearance was of an art deco building from the 30s or 40s, underneath were the car showrooms and repair garages from the 1910s.

By the late 1960s CBC were looking to expand and build purpose-built (and soundproof) studios, hiring Thompson, Berwick & Pratt to design the new Downtown studios further east (with Paul Merrick designing the bunker-like outcome).

Today there are two 36 storey towers of the Residences on Georgia, designed by James Cheng for Westbank for the Kuok Group.

Posted December 26, 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

1200 block West Georgia Street, south side (1)

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We have another car and truck dealership in one of Vancouver’s main Motordom streets. We’ve previously looked at several vehicle dealerships in the two blocks east of here, and here is another in this 1931 image. On the corner with Bute Street, Consolidated Motor Company Limited had their Willys-Knight and White trucks and busses division. Next door was their Gold Bond used cars department, and to the west was the Hupmobile and Packard car showroom.

Willy-Knight cars were produced between 1914 and 1933 by the Willys-Overland Company of Toledo, Ohio, while White (which started in 1900 with steam powered cars) after World War I began producing trucks. The company soon sold 10 percent of all trucks made in the US. Between the wars White produced all sizes of trucks from light delivery to semi – that’s a White chassis sitting outside the showroom. Hupmobiles were manufactured in Detroit from 1909. After 1925 the company made the same mistake that many other medium-priced carmakers were making at the same time; in an attempt to capture every possible sale, they offered many different models. With their relatively low production volume, no model could be produced in sufficient quantity to keep manufacturing costs low enough to provide an operating profit.

The building on the corner was built in 1919; designed by Fred Townley for the Terminal City Motor Co costing $30,000 by AD and AW Snider. It was described as “Factory/Warehouse; two-storey reinfoced concrete garage building, 66×120 ft; rest rooms w/ large open fireplaces, lavatories; owing to diff. in grade, access to repair dept via ramp at Alberni St. entrance, drive a car right into without use of an elevator”. The previous owner of the house here was J Duff-Stuart, who was making repairs to his home as late as 1918.

consolidated-1927Terminal City Motor Co operated a hire car service – an early limo service. In their fleet they had a Cadillac Model 30 that they used to run a tour service around the city. The company was manged by Frank Barnes, and offered sightseeing tours in 7 seat ‘Green Cars’ that set off from opposite the Hotel Vancouver. For $1 you could take a 25 mile tour to Marine Drive through Point Grey. Seeing Shaughnessy Heights in an hour and half drive also cost $1. The brochure advertising the tours mentioned that their stores also sold a range of auto parts. The company had moved five blocks to the west to their new premises. In 1926 they added new premises on Dunsmuir Street and changed their name to the BC Motor Transportation Co. “Operating All Classes of Motor Vehicles, Including Pacific Stages, Vellow Cabs, Sightseeing Cars, Flat Rate Cars, Drive Yourself Cars and Baggage Transfer.” Consolidated Motors expanded eastwards into the corner building in 1929.

They had operated from the third building on the block, 1230 W Georgia, from 1912. Garage premises were initially built in 1911 by the Archibald Motor Co, designed by George Pigrum Bowie at a cost of $6,000. Archibald were founded by Albert William Cruise, originally from New Brunswick. He worked as an engineer in New York, in theatre in eastern Canada, and then in real estate in Vancouver from 1907. He acquired property and fam land, and retired as the 1912 crash hit. That year Archibald was renamed Consolidated, with Mr. Cruise as president, retaining the Archibald name for a related garage business and the Western Tire Company for tires and parts. He hired Doctor, Stewart & Davie to build the property shown in the picture in 1912, built by R McLean & Co at a cost of $30,000. In 1920, when the Vancouver Motor Dealers’ Association had their banquet, under the headline ‘Who’s Who of Vancouver Motordom’ Consolidated Motors were identified as a Packard and Maxwell dealership.

consolidated-motor-co-1230-w-georgia-1936-cva-99-4855In this 1936 image a 1935 Packard 120 Club Sedan is parked at the curb. This was the company’s first year of a lower priced line; the modern looking car probably kept the company afloat during the Great Depression when demand for their more luxurious cars declined. Its style contrasts with the classic proportions of the 1933 or 1934 coupe in front of it. Although the Hupmobile name is still on the façade, the company only sold Packards. Until  1942 Consolidated Motors were still going strong here: A W Cruise was still in charge, and as well as Packards, the dealership was selling Pontiacs. They moved up the street to the 1000 block in 1943. Willys vehicles were later sold from the corner of Burrard and W Georgia; we’ll look later at what happened to these buildings.

Today this is the location of the Residences on Georgia, a James Cheng designed pair of residential towers, completed in 1998, as well as the heavily restored ‘Abbott House’.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-3939 and  CVA 99-4855.

Posted December 22, 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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