Archive for the ‘Dunsmuir Hotel’ Tag

Dunsmuir Hotel (2)

We’ve visited the Dunsmuir Hotel before, but here’s slightly different angle, and in colour (on a postcard). Parr and Fee designed the building for David Gibb and Sons, but it was soon acquired by Abraham Grossman, a successful Jewish businessman who from 1893 to 1908 ran the city’s first clothing store, ‘The Hub’. Abraham Grossman was originally from Poland, born in 1820, arriving in Canada in 1884 and his wife Minnie was Russian, arriving in 1880 aged 14. Mr Grossman owned, repaired and had a number of buildings constructed (as well as running a dry goods business), usually employing W T Whiteway as architect. However, when he altered the Dunsmuir Hotel in 1913 he used the classier firm of Russell, Babcock and Rice. Originally from Tacoma they were responsible for one really significant building in the city, the Weart Building (now known as the Standard Building and still standing today).

They had also designed a $500,000 office for Grossman that was announced in the Contract Journal as if it was actually built, at Abbott and Hastings in 1912. (It wasn’t). Mr Grossman did well enough from his real estate and land dealing that by 1914 he was living in Shaughnessy Heights on Osler Street in 1914, the only Jewish family in that neighbourhood. One of Mr Grossman’s three sons, Max, was a lawyer and very active in Jewish affairs. His greatest contribution to the Jewish community in Vancouver was as Chairman and driving force for the building of the Schara Tzedeck Synagogue.


Posted February 21, 2012 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Dunsmuir Hotel (1)

In its day the Dunsmuir Hotel was a prestigious hotel – and a large one too. It was intended as more of an apartment hotel, with the possibility of combining up to four rooms into a suite. It was designed by Parr and Fee, and there’s some confusion over it’s date of construction. While most sources cite 1908 (as did the advertisements the hotel published), the Biography of Architects say it wasn’t completed until 1913. That was the same year Grossman and Son hired Russell, Babcock and Rice to design a store in the building, so that may be where the confusion comes from. The brochure shows the hotel offering the European Plan, but the words ‘American Plan’ are struck out, so presumably the hotel management changed their mind about offering three meals a day.

It was built by David Gibb and Son, a company skilled in building brick and stone buildings. David Gibb senior left Glasgow for New York in 1879, spent some time in Chicago, and arrived in Vancouver in 1889. He was involved in the construction of several significant buildings. By 1925 when this photograph was taken it was one of number of hotels in the area competing for custom; the Dunsmuir (which for a time switched the order to Hotel Dunsmuir) went after the tourist trade. A 1920 brochure advertised ‘Take Our Large, New, Electric Buss Free’.

Hotel Dunsmuir bus c1913

By the Second World War it wasn’t doing so well, and in 1947 it was taken over as part of the effort to house returning War Veterans, run by the Citizens’ Rehabilitation Council of Greater Vancouver. A few years later the Salvation Army turned it into Dunsmuir House, their shelter and social services centre. At some point the main floor rooms lost their retail use – a situation which remains to this day. In 2004 the Salvation Army moved to new premises nearby, and the shelter became a hotel aimed at International Students. More recently it was sold to the owners of the Bay parkade, who in time will pursue a redevelopment of much of the block which should see the Hotel given a seismic and heritage restoration. In the meantime BC Housing have taken the property on a lease and have paid for replumbing and roofing to maintain the structure.

Image sources: VPL and City of Vancouver Archives LGN1267.1


Posted January 2, 2012 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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