Archive for the ‘B C Telephone Co’ Tag

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

 

 

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

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