We looked at this corner, with its early flatiron building, in an earlier post that took a more distant view of this building. This 1892 Vancouver Public Library view of the Holland Block shows it just completing construction. It was designed by C W H Sansom for James M. Holland, described as ‘an early real estate developer’.
Nothing seems to have been recorded of Mr. Holland’s history – other than his middle initial, and his area of employment. Before 1890 he was in partnership with W O Elliot as Real Estate Agents, as his partnership was dissolved that year. He also had interests that year south of the border: “Jas. M. HOLLAND has been appointed agent in Blaine for the Northern Pacific railroad, thus giving Blaine even advantages with other places in securing traveling privileges“. He may have been in a real estate partnership in Blaine as well; the Blaine Journal reporting that “HOLLAND & McFARLAND have just completed them a real estate office at the corner of H and Washington avenue“.
In 1891 James M Holland was registered in the Canada census as aged 32, an American and a lawyer. The Daily World confirmed that in 1890, announcing that “James M. Holland, the well known real estate agent of this city, has been admitted as an attorney in the Superior Court of Washington”. He was listed as lodging rather than owning property in the census, which the street directory confirmed; he was living in rooms at the Leland rooms at 131 E Hastings. His offices were on Cordova Street where he dealt in real estate, loans and insurance.
The first time he appears in a directory was in 1888 when he was the manager of the Vancouver Real Estate Exchange. Representatives from 25 companies created and signed a formal constitution and bylaws. The Exchange collapsed after almost three months and 24 meetings; there wouldn’t be a similar organization in the city until 1919. James didn’t stay here too long; the last entry we can find for him was in 1895, when he was listed as a capitalist, and living here, in the Holland Block. He had previously moved to Seattle in 1891, but apparently returned and built this corner building after that.
He was in a business partnership in Seattle as early as 1890, so seems to have divided his attention between BC and Washington State over several years. In 1892 he was president of the Bank of Sumas, in Sumas City, announced in the Daily World in 1891. In 1893 he acquired property in Blaine: “Documents were signed last week which makes James M. HOLLAND of Seattle the owner of the Lindsey block, sitting on the corner of Washington avenue and Martin street. The sum named in the conveyance is $20,000. This is one of the finest pieces of rental property in the city, being built of brick and in every way central and convenient. Mr. HOLLAND is to be congratulated on coming into possession of this fine piece of real estate, and it can but prove a remunerative investment. Mr. HOLLAND, as is shown by this investment, has an abiding faith in the future prosperity of Blaine.”
An 1895 announcement suggests he had got married: a Blaine newspaper reported that “Mr. and Mrs. James M. HOLLAND of Vancouver have gone for a visit to New York City.” Earlier that year the Holland Building in Whatcom was destroyed by fire, but was fortunately insured. There the trail goes cold; there are no further references in any Seattle, Vancouver or Blaine publications we can find.
We now know that he initially stayed in New York – James M Holland wrote in 1931 from Wall Street, recalling joining Theta Chi (a fraternal organization) fifty years earlier in Vermont “During fall quarter in 1881, Norwich University was reduced to only 12 students and Theta Chi’s membership was reduced to one undergraduate member, James M. Holland. In November of that year, Phil S. Randall and Henry B. Hersey approached Holland and insisted that they be allowed to join Theta Chi; Holland agreed, thus saving the Fraternity from extinction“.
Theta Chi have a history that includes a biography for James Michael Holland, and it includes a reference to him being in Vancouver, so we can be sure it’s the same person. He was born in Northfield, Vermont, in 1859, went to university and then studied law, being called to the Michigan bar in 1884. From 1885 to 1887 he represented a Boston bank in Fargo, North Dakota, then in real estate in both Seattle and Vancouver until 1895. That was the year he married and moved to New York, where he practiced law, engaged in real estate and public utilities, buying, improving and then selling to the municipality the water supply for Northfield. He was a trustee of Norwich University (where he obtained his degree) for 20 years. He died in Northfield in 1944.
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 and we thought it was 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. Initially there was a competition to design the new building, won by an American, Arlen Towle, who had an office in New Westminster, so it’s possible he was the architect.
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
The initial street grid of the Old Granville Township, which followed the shoreline along Water Street, meets the (almost) east-west grid surveyed by the Canadian Pacific Railway on West Cordova to create an acute flatiron corner. This 1895 image shows the 1892 Holland Block designed by C W H Sansom for James M. Holland, an early real estate developer. The building borrowed from both Italianate styling and the bay widows of San Francisco, and in the early days the Queen’s Hotel occupied the upper floors. The building incorporated cast iron columns that show the BC Ironworks mark.
There’s another flatiron building a bit further east. It’s actually two buildings, each designed by N S Hoffar and completed in 1888. The one we can see the complicated turret on is for J W Horne; beyond it is the Springer-Van Bramer block developed for the partnership of Ben Springer and James Van Bramer, both connected to the north shore Moody’s sawmill, and the developers of an earlier building on the south side of Cordova. J W Horne also developed a number of other buildings nearby, including one on Cambie Street also designed by Hoffar in 1890. Today the only additional building on this block is the Buscombe Building, built in 1899 as a 3-storey building for John Burns and later acquired by importers Buscombe & Co.
The only significant building at this end of the north side of Water Street was the 3-storey warehouse for the Hudson’s Bay Company, built in 1894. It’s still standing today, but with two extra floors added in 1903. In the distance today the Woodward’s development adds a new flatiron building, a 43 storey tower designed by Henriquez Partners.
Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives Str P392