Archive for the ‘E Beam’ Tag

Arlington Rooms – East Pender Street

This beige rooming house with a diamond red pattern of brickwork seems to advertise the architects from the design. The diamond pattern was the trademark of Townsend & Townsend, a British-born father and son partnership with considerable success in the five years they were in the city. The exact same pattern was on the Rialto Hotel on Granville, and 322 Water Street among many others. However, that’s not what the 1912 permit says. It says that P J Bennett was the owner, and the builder, but E Beam, contractor designed it. That’s very odd, as Mr. Beam designed a few houses, which he usually built, often for himself. This is the only apartment building he was shown as having designed. Mr. Bennett is also an unlikely builder – the only P J Bennett in the city at the time was a Main Street barber called Peter J Bennett who lived at 549 Jackson. He was almost certainly the developer, as he was involved in a court case in 1913 related to this lot, between Peter John Bennett and Dominion Tobacco.

While it’s possible, but seems unlikely, that Mr. Bennett learned how to build, it looks as is Mr. Beam ‘borrowed’ Townsend & Townsend’s signature design of brickwork. That would mean Mr. Bennett was the developer and Mr. Beam the contractor and designer. (The ledger of Building Permits is pretty clear on that). We can find no evidence that the Townsends were involved, and they left Vancouver in 1913.

Peter John Bennett was from Sweden, and would have been about 45 when this was built. He had arrived in 1891, with his wife, Lena, and they had a daughter, Agnes, in the year after they got here. We found him successfully in the 1901 census, but he was more of a problem in 1911 because he was listed at John P Bennett. All the other details about the family remained the same; for once none of then tried to shave a year or two off their age.

Although the rooms were built in 1912, they don’t show up in the street directory until 1914. There’s a 1912 advertisement for them in the Vancouver Sun, and in 1913 Patrick Meagher was shown here – ‘bartndr’ at the Europe Hotel. They were called the Norden Rooms, run by Helen M Whitten in 1914, The Liverpool Rooms in 1915 (with no named proprietor). In 1918 identified as ‘Chinese’. Downstairs the Chinese Independent & Presbyterian Mission occupied the storefront until the early 1920s. In 1921 the owners Griffiths & Lee carried out $1,000 of repairs, and the Chinese Mission made minor changes in 1925.

The address in 1924 continued to say ‘Chinese’. In 1926 there a new proprietor, J McIntyre, and a new name; The Star Rooms. The name stuck around, although Mr. McIntyre didn’t; by 1929 the description had switched to ‘Japanese’. It must have been confusing at times, as there was another Star Rooms on Main Street, and a third on Powell Street. That confusion continued into the early 1930s, when all three rooming houses had Japanese proprietors. In 1932 this one was run by T Nishi, clarified as T T Nishikawa later in the 1930s.

Once the Japanese were forced to leave the coastal parts of British Columbia two of the three Star Rooms had Chinese proprietors; in this case Wong Hung took over. In 1949 there was new proprietor, and a new name – the Arlington Hotel, run by Paul Chubocha. Within a couple of years Max and Peter Nelson of Haney had taken over and renamed the building as The Arlington Rooms. In 1957 the main floor was advertised as ‘warehouse for rent with front office’. Our 1978 image shows almost no differences from the appearance of the building today, when the Chinese Community Library Services Association occupy the main floor and basement, and there are still 30 rooms with shared bathrooms on each floor upstairs. The property was offered for sale for $2.8m and sold in 2018.



Posted 13 May 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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East Hastings Street – 800 block, north side

This is the north side of the 800 block of East Hastings around 1965, looking eastwards from Hawks Avenue. Only some of the surprisingly modest buildings remain today. Several of the 2-storey buildings date from the 1950s, and one from 1923 for Bowman’s Storage, designed by Maurice Helyer. There was only one significant (three storey) rooming house on the north side of the block, nearly at the end, at 873 E Hastings. It was designed by Parr and Fee, cost $20,000, and was built by E Beam for E and W J Beam – and was one of the earliest buildings on the block.

Eli Beam was born in Ontario in 1853, one of at least 9 children in a Mennonite family. In 1881 he was still in the township where he was born, Bertie, in Welland, where he was working as a farmer. He was married to Maggie, and they already had three children. He may well have been in Seattle in the late 1880s; In 1889 The Blaine Journal reported “Mr. Eli BEAM, from Seattle, has been in Blaine this week looking over the field for establishing himself in the drug business at this point. He has bargained with our merchants for their stocks of drugs, and says he will be ready to open up a first-class drugstore here in two weeks. His store will be built near the school house, where he has purchased two lots.” By 1890 he was in Victoria, working as a builder and contractor. He built two houses, (still standing today), one for his own family. His wife, Maggie died that year of blood poisoning; she was only 34. She had been Margaret Rock, and they married in 1876. The census in 1891 showed he was a widower with five children at home, and the youngest two, aged 7 and 8, had been born in the USA (supporting the idea that he was in Seattle).

He won the contract to build the Ancient Order of United Workmen hall in 1894, but was bankrupt four months later. The Colonist reported “Eli Beam, contractor, of this city, has assigned to John Fullerton, of 101 Government street, his real and personal property, in trust for the benefit of creditors.”

In 1900, the year he moved to Vancouver, he had a patent for a cutting tool, with two separate blades. A year later his census listing shows three of his children still at home. His son William, who he was in business with as a builder, his daughter Amy, and another, Ina, who was married to Walter Brown who also lived at the same house, along with four lodgers (two of them carpenters, and one, Lucius Brown, an American advertising agent). Two other daughters had left home, Lola who married that year aged 17 and Mary, who was 21. She was married in Whatcom in 1909.

In 1901 William Beam built a frame and sash factory on East Hastings, and in 1904 on Prior Street. In 1907 ‘The Beam Manufacturing Company was established, acquired William’s factory and built a sawmill. In 1907 it was reported that “Mr. E. Beam and Mr. and Mrs. L. R. Bentson have returned from an extended tour of Eastern Canada and Southern California”. In 1909 Eli extended the frame and sash factory on Prior Street. The Daily World reported a conflict with the City; “A letter was read from the assistant city solicitor that he had given the Beam Manufacturing Company notice to vacate the south end of Gore avenue by the 11th. This concern claims that it has a lease, given two years ago, but has never paid any rent for the use of the street end. They have erected their mills across the street and filled out over the tide lands belonging to the city.”

The 1911 census showed Eli as a factory owner, living in a house he had built on Semlin Drive, with two employees, C S and Willa Ned, who were American. William lived near Trout Lake. That year Eli also built a Victoria building, The Mount Edwards Apartment House, and designed and built an apartment building on East Pender which was an investment by a Main Street barber. William J Beam was living with his wife Jessie and two young sons, Bertram and Wallace, and was shown as owner of the sash and door factory. William and Jessie Rock had married in Michigan in 1905, although she was from Canada (and perhaps related on her mother’s side of the family)..

Eli Beam died on 5 February 1914, aged 61. William was shown as divorced when he died in 1946.

The building opened in 1913 as the Melrose Rooms run by Ellen Bullock, who lived on West Pender. Within a year they changed to the Villiers Apartments, managed by B B Lawler. In 1915 Mrs J H Mallett took over, and advertised 2 room suites at $12 a month. In 1920 C P Anderson was running them, and in 1940 J Anderson. In 1950 W Donald and Mrs Z Connell were in charge, and A M and S Fox in 1955. The building was known as Fox’s Apartments when it was demolished, some time in the 1970s, replaced in 1984 with a 3-storey commercial building that has recently been refurbished.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-21


Posted 26 April 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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