Lightheart Apartments – 540 Helmcken Street

Lightheart Apartments

To the north of Emery Barnes Park there is a 1910 building which these days is called Brookland Court. It was built by two brothers, who are referred to in the architectural history books as ‘the Lightheart Brothers’. William and Joseph Lightheart were builders who designed their own developments and owned the sash widow factory that was on the site before they built the apartment building. Two other brothers are sometimes mentioned in passing as well, but there were in fact at least six different Lightheart brothers, all of whom ended up living in Vancouver and all apparently involved in construction and development. Strangely, none of the brothers seem to be mentioned in any of the contemporary biographies of worthy citizens, but at least seven of their apartment buildings are still standing today.

In 1901 William and Joseph Lightheart had both recently appeared in Vancouver and both lodged with James A Johnston and his family; 25 year old William working as a builder and his 23 year old brother Joseph as a carpenter. They appear in the 1901 City Directory at 604 Hamilton Street, which presumably was their works yard. Their family roots were in Nottawasaga, Simcoe in Ontario, (on Lake Huron). In 1901 William built a house on Burrard Street and in 1902  he built a house for George Whatmore on 8th Avenue. Joseph built a house in the same year on Burrard Street for himself, and it was a substantial house too – it cost $2,200.

There’s a period where the city’s building permits have been lost, so we don’t know for certain that this building is their first major investment, but it looks to be so. William’s wedding in Escondido in 1906 was mentioned in the Daily World, as was George’s wedding in 1907. Various house-building projects were noted by several of the brothers. In 1911 advertisements started to appear for the newly completed Lightheart Apartments, offering both furnished and unfurnished rooms.

In the 1950s the building was known as the Hollywood Apartments. At some point an additional floor was added, and in in 1989 major renovations were carried out that reduced the number of units to 86 self-contained apartments of non-market housing.

Image source: BC Archives D-09176

Posted June 13, 2016 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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Terminus Hotel – 34 Water Street

Terminus

We’ve looked at many of the buildings on Water Street on this blog, but somehow overlooked the Terminus. It was completed in 1902 at a cost of $8,000 for W Jones, replacing a building erected quickly after the 1886 fire, possibly designed by Bunning and Kelso (according to the first edition of Exploring Vancouver). They weren’t architects, but they might have been builders; in 1888 Bunning was a carpenter. This attribution of this building thought it dated back to 1887. (There was an even earlier saloon run by Bill Blair before the fire that was originally a restaurant run by George Brew ‘when he wasn’t drunk or in prison’.)

The façade still standing today was designed by Emil Guenther, and for five years (including in our picture) all that was visible was a three storey façade and the side wall propped up with steel bracing after a fire destroyed the building in 2000. Given the ferocity of the fire, it’s remarkable that the front of the building stayed standing. The Heritage Statement still describes it as a propped façade, but that’s very outdated as in 2008 a new development was completed along with the adjacent Grand Hotel to restore the retail use and add condos on the upper floors (and two additional floors set back from the heritage element). The Grand was an earlier building, dating back to 1889, and the owner, Thomas J Roberts, was killed in while attending a card game in 1918, as we noted in an earlier post.

The owner of the new Terminus Hotel when it was built was William Rees Jones; one of six people called William Jones in the city in 1901. He was either born in England into a Welsh family (1901 census) or in Wales (1891 census), and he had arrived in Canada in 1858 when he would have been aged about 15. He was running the Terminus from 1890, buying it from Bill Blair. William Blair was from Maine, and he appears in very early Granville (pre Vancouver) street directories; the first we’ve found him in was in 1882 when he was running the Deighton House, built by ‘Gassy Jack’ many years earlier. Before he arrived in Granville he was in Victoria from 1877. Around 1884 he’d moved up the street to run a saloon at this location, with Blair’s Hall at the back, where dances, meetings (and church services) were held. After he sold the bar, Blair became a general contractor.

In October 1901 the replacement building for the Terminus was announced. The original hotel and saloon weren’t torn down; rather, they were moved to the rear of the site (which hadn’t been redeveloped as a hall after the fire) to clear the space at the front for the new structure.

In what reads suspiciously like an ‘advertorial’ – but which was typical of the day for the thoroughness of the description, the Vancouver Daily Work of 22 March 1902 announced the completion: “On  the Site of a Pioneer Water Street Hotel Rises a Complete Up-to-date Structure. Many people thought that the lot on which the Terminus hotel stood could not be made useable for a hotel. It was enclosed between high buildings on either side and the light was shut off. Since the days when Vancouver was a baby the Terminus had been there. It was one of the first hotels that reared itself phoenix – like above the ashes, and Mr. William, Jones hated to change the locality. He therefore decided that once again the house should arise, and he entrusted the work of making the plans to Emil B. Guenther. The result is that there stands today one of the most complete hostelries in Vancouver on the site of what was the old Terminus. The building has a brick front with stone finishings, with a series of bow windows on the front that give a view direct across the Inlet from the front and also a view each way east and west. The general contractor for the building was E. Cook, the well known contractor, whose foreman on the contract was George W. Maynard. The sub – contractors were: (including heaters in bar for hot water. Cope & Frey; heating, hot water, Leek & Co.; for fixtures, Robertson and Hackett: plumbing. W. Brown; painting. H. Miller; furnishing, Chas. Hach; bedding, Pioneer Mattress Factory, R. F. Campbell, manager.

The architect Emil Guenther, went to Seattle and Tacoma to see if anything had been overlooked. The result is that from his own ideas and what he learned abroad on the old site of the Terminus has arisen the most perfect hotel that is to be found of its kind on the const. It was enclosed on either side by high wholesale houses, and the greatest feature was to secure perfect light. This has been done by the judicious use of a skylight that takes in the whole roof. Through this it has been arranged that there is not a dark room in the house. The main entrance is from Water street, but on either side are entrances to the basement, in which are situated a barber shop and a day and night restaurant. The latter will be under the charge of Mr. W. McArthur. The dining room is connected by speaking tubes and bells with the bar, and that is in itself a credit to local workmanship, it is finished in polished oak with tile floor and gutter. The bar is 40 feet long and the back is designed in a series of arches with half – curved pilasters and capitals. The wainscoting is terra cotta cement with enamelled surface finishing, ensuring absolute sanitariness, and the walls and ceiling are finished in pressed steel in tastefully blended shades, making a complete poem in color. The kitchen is supplied with a flue 8 feet by 1 inches, clear to the top, so that it is impossible for any odor to reach the storeys above. The bedrooms are supplied with good, substantial furniture from the well known house of C. Hach, and all the beds have the “D. P.” springs and the “Jumbo” soft mattresses. The house was open to the public today at 11 a.m., and is many ways as regards completeness and novelties not overlooking, for example, the electric water heaters supplied by Cope & Frey will be of interest to the public generally. Mr. Jones’ confidence in the city is shown, by the fact that he has invested in this building $35,000. Old timers will remember the Terminus locality. Near it was our first church, and on the lot on which it stands was a building in which Sunday services were held in the early days. Those who were here in the old times will remember the gospel hall and will he pleased to know that the man who so freely gave his Premises for the carrying on of any good work in the early days has prospered.”

This suggests Mr. Jones might have been a really ‘old timer’ in the city. There are hints of this elsewhere – a reference in the Archives notes of Major Matthews to “Dissolution of Partnership between William Jones and John Thomas (“Navvy Jack” Thomas – another Welshman), and “Partnership Notice” between William Jones and Joseph Mannion, published in Mainland Guardian, 5 April 1873.” Indeed, looking for references to “Billy Jones” reveals more references to his early saloon, next door to the Granville House Hotel (which he had originally partnered with Mannion to acquire from Ebenezer Brown). In 1874 he was in partnership with Mannion. Despite this we haven’t found any early directory references to William (or Billy) Jones in Granville. At least one interviewee thought he was an American. The first reference to the Terminus is in 1889 when Bill Blair was proprietor before William Jones bought it a year later. We have no idea what William Jones – assuming it’s the same William Jones – did between the mid 1870s and buying the saloon in 1890, but he wasn’t in Granville/Vancouver.

The new hotel’s early history is recorded in the newspapers of the day; a drunk who tried to kick out all the panels of the hotel; underage drinkers identified by the police; theft of a visitor’s bicycle wheel. A more serious case was a 1905 attempt to remove Mr. Jones’s licence because he was present when his barman was serving drink ‘after hours’ when the curtains had been pulled to indicate the bar was closed. (It was during one of the periods in the city’s history when the forces of temperance were trying to restrict the serious drinking that took place). W J Bowser, the lawyer defending the case successfully persuaded the Magistrate that it wasn’t an intentional lapse of the law, as one drinker was resident in the hotel (and therefore a member of the household who could legitimately drink at any time) and the other was understood to be resident – although he had in fact moved to a different establishment a short while before.  In 1906 the Daily World announced “WATER ST. HOTEL SOLD. S. Swoboda, mayor of Wetaskiwin, Alberta, has purchased the Terminus hotel, Water street, from William Jones. Mr. Swoboda has no intention of starting in the hotel business, hut he talks of selling out his extensive interests in Alberta, and coming to the coast. The Terminus is one of the oldest hotels in the city.”

In February 1908 the hotel was mentioned several times when a patron was stabbed. In 1909 the hotel, with 33 rooms, was offered for sale again. Leased at $250 a month, it was offered for sale at $33,000. The licensee, George Patton, was in court later that year, accused of allowing gambling on the premises. The attempts to sell the property don’t seem to have been successful, or Mr Jones had second thoughts as W Jones, was still the owner in 1912 when he had R H Atkinson design an alteration to the store here. The 1911 street directory shows that he wasn’t running the hotel by then; that was R Fiddler and James Thompson. Thompson had run the hotel on his own from 1905 (although he was mis-identified as Johnson that year), but William Jones was shown still living in the hotel, but from 1906 he was in retirement.

At some point the hotel ceased offering the full hotel facilities: In 1912 it was still a hotel run by Robert Fiddes, but by 1914 it was the Terminus Rooms, run by Henry Savinar and in 1917 by H Avoca. The ethnicity of the owners changed over the years. In 1936 it was listed as the Terminus Hotel (rooms) run by G Iguchi. In 1948 the rooms were run by H Summers, and the 1955 listing was for the TERMINUS Hotel (Wong Jun Ming) rooms.

Posted June 9, 2016 by ChangingCity in Altered, Gastown

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Water Street west from near Abbott

Water St west from Abbott

We have previously reviewed the development of Edward Lipsett’s properties to the left of this picture in an earlier post, and a subsequent follow-up. (We also looked at The Gold House, the hotel that was here earlier). We were fairly sure that the property was developed in phases, with the first being a warehouse and factory for Edward Lipsett, sail maker, costing $10,000 and designed by Dalton and Eveleigh in 1906. This image is undated, but comes from the early 1900s – which would match our understanding of the property phasing. It’s clear that the Lipsett building has two floors at this point, and had a vacant lot to the west, so that matches our understanding that a $20,000 permit in 1912 for a 2-storey brick addition saw the building extended vertically. The subsequent infill to the west came later, initially with just one storey, then completed to almost match the 1906/1912 building.

Beyond is Sven Sherdahl’s Dominion Hotel, developed in 1900 and designed by Emil Guenther. Across Abbott Street is the Winters Hotel from 1907, and on the other side of Water Street is Parr and Fee’s Leeson, Dickie, Gross and Co’s warehouse, built in 1909 (so pushing the date of the picture into a narrower band). Across Abbott is McLennan & McFeely’s warehouse that they leased to the Canadian Fairbanks Company, built in 1905. In 1914 (and not 1912 as the Heritage Statement suggest) the Prince Rupert Meat Company built the seven storey warehouse on the extreme right of the picture next to Leeson’s, which they claimed to design and build themselves. That logically puts the date of the image between 1910 and 1913.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA M-11-53

Homer Street – 500 block west side

500 Homer west

In the previous post we looked at the other side of the street. We have looked at a couple of the buildings on this side of the street in earlier posts. To the right of the lamppost in this 1930s Vancouver Public Library image is the Emil Guenther designed Eagle Temple built in 1914, with H S Griffith’s 1912 West Pender Building beyond it – still standing today.

The 1912 insurance map shows all the lots on the west side of Homer developed with houses like the ones on the left of the picture, all also shown on the earlier 1901 map, (when the east side was also all houses). Those are all too old for us to easily trace their building permits. A few were hanging on in the van stationersVancouver Stationers 19301930s, although the Eagle Temple had replaced a large house on a double lot. A new building had replaced another of the houses, apparently in 1930 when Vancouver Stationers Ltd first appear in the Street Directory.

O Weber was President and Treasurer, and W J Hagel the vice-president. It’s not entirely clear what their slogan ‘the quality of our printing is consistent with the prices we charge’ meant. Were they inexpensive, but ‘hey, you get what you pay for’? Or expensive, but worth every cent? The company had previously been in business on Granville Street, and the Public Library also has this 1930 Stuart Thompson image that was probably taken on completion of the building. It shows that there was still a house tucked away in the gap between the Eagles Lodge and the new building.

In 2004 Belkin House, a new facility for the Salvation Army was completed, with over 100 rooms and capacity to have over 200 people sleep in the building.

Posted June 2, 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

Homer Street – 500 block east side

500 Homer east

We’ve looked at the two buildings in the foreground of this 1981 image before. Just showing on the left is the Labour Temple, now known by its address, 411 Dunsmuir Street. It was designed by Thomas Hooper as a gathering place for organized labour, with meeting rooms, a print shop and billiards tables in the basement. There’s a more extensive history of the building on the Past Tense blog.

On the right is the Alcazar Hotel, which cost $140,000 to develop and was designed in 1912 by Dalton and Eveleigh for Dr D H Wilson. William Stanford Wainwright managed it from 1913 until his death in 1943. After his death it was managed by his widow, Iris. In 1947 she bought the hotel with her sons, W F and P R Wainwright. The Alcazar had a bar that was frequented by Post Office workers due to its proximity to the main Post Office, but the other clientele  were art teachers, artists and art students, as the Art School was nearby too. One of them recalls that “the bar was a fascinatingly brightly lit room with a rather modernist abstract fountain in the middle. But it was always a pleasure to have a meal in the room that Jack Shadbolt painted. Very abstract/surrealist mural. Where the light standards were over the tables, Jack had painted around these what looked like eye lashes.”

Beyond it is a structure we had forgotten existed. It’s one of Vancouver’s ever-decreasing number of parking structures. We’ve seen many sites where there was surface parking for many years, and many more where there were decked structures like this. The handful that remain are disappearing fast. The most recent to be approved for redevelopment is on Seymour Street, associated with the Scotia Tower of the Vancouver Centre. Like this parking garage, it’s going to be replaced with an office tower, and like this one (the headquarters of BC Hydro, completed in 1992) it has Musson Cattell Mackey as the architects.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E11.35

Posted May 30, 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Georgia Street – 1000 Block

1000 block W Georgia looking east 1

We’re looking east on West Georgia Street: the Archives at this point have an undated image (and unidentified location). The cars, and the changes in the buildings suggest some time in the 1970s. The Royal Centre is complete, so we’re past 1973, Cathedral place hasn’t replace the Medical-Dental Building, so we’re before 1992, and the Burrard Building has it’s original skin, so it’s before 1988. The Ritz Hotel is still standing on the right of the picture, so it’s probably before 1980. By 1985 the Grosvenor Building was completed here. In the distance, behind the TD Tower is the Vancouver Centre – completed in 1976, so that puts us squarely into the mid 1970s.

ritzThe Ritz International may have had the prestigious name, but it wasn’t as classy as the Hotel Georgia or the Hotel Vancouver down the street. The hotel was a conversion of the St Julien Apartments, and that was itself a conversion of the new YMCA which received its building permit in 1913. The permit shows that it was designed by H S Griffith as a 7-storey, reinforced  concrete structure, to be constructed at a cost of an extremely ambitious cost of $375,000.

The 1912 insurance map shows the Y began building that year. The start of World War One, and an economic depression meant that by 1919 the structure was still not complete and it was decided that it should be sold. In 1924 the building was completed as the St. Julien Apartments (seen here around 1925) but those didn’t last very long, and in 1929 was turned into the Ritz Hotel. Not all the apartments were turned into hotel rooms – the property offered both hotel rooms and ‘fully serviced apartments’.

The Ritz stayed as a hotel – it didn’t become a low-income rental property as many further east, and was finally demolished in 1983 to be replaced by the Grosvenor Building, a multi-faceted gold coloured tower that allowed tenants to offer the prestigious ‘corner office’ to more of its employees.

St Julien (Ritz) 1040 W Georgia

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-312 and Vancouver Public Library

Posted May 26, 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Exchange – 388 West 1st Avenue

Exchange b&a

Today it’s a condo building called Exchange, but when it was built in 1913 it was the B. C. Telephone Co., Ltd’s new warehouse and office – and not, as some sources (and the name) would suggest, a telephone exchange. It cost $35,000 to build, and the company claimed to be both architect and builder of the four storey ‘brick and stick’ structure built in the same style as warehouses found in Yaletown. It’s possible the design was completed in-house; it’s equally possible that an architect was hired but the company then submitted the plans themselves. If so it’s quite likely to have been Thomas Hooper, who designed other buildings for the company around this period, and who had plenty of experience designing straightforward industrial boxes.

BC Telephone, Wylie St AM339-S7 CVA 17-19 1915In 1913 1st Avenue was called Front street, and the permit here was for 366 to 376 Front Street. Once it was operating the building often had a Wylie Street address, although initially this was addressed as Yukon Street. It was essentially a warehouse for spools of cables and wires, telephone and related equipment, and the Archives have a 1915 image that shows BC Telephone vehicles and crew ready to service their customers, parked in front of the Wylie Street façade. There’s another 1922 image showing a row of service vans lined up.

Around 1927 an addition was built to the east of the 1913 building, in a different style without the large lintels of the earlier building. There was also a low, single storey wing extending further to the east. At a later date some of the small Wylie Street windows were replaced to match the larger windows.

In 1982 Best Facilities Services moved into the building and operated from here for over 20 years. Our 2003 image shows the building when they were still located here. They offered a range of property management and related services. As the Southeast False Creek development evolved, the buildings were sold for development, but the developers, PCL, chose to carry out a heritage conversion rather than demolish and replace the warehouse. They were given a Heritage Bank allowance worth over $2 million to retain and repurpose the building. A new six storey block was built to the east, with the whole project designed by Burrowes Huggins Architects. the elevator core that serves both halves of the project helps provide seismic stability to the older buildings.

Today the building is surrounded by other SEFC housing projects, with the final part of the block across the lane to the south expected to be built very soon. To the west the Maynards Block has been developed, and further development can be anticipated across the street to the north in the near future.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives AM339-S7 CVA 17-19

 

 

Posted May 23, 2016 by ChangingCity in False Creek, Still Standing

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