Archive for the ‘E Stanley Mitton’ Tag

823 and 827 Union Street

The Strathcona building on the left of our 1973 image was once a laundry. There’s an earlier image (on the left), said to have been shot some time after 1960, showing that use. We think it’s probably as earlier image, from the 1950s. The Laundry was constructed in 1911 – there are three different permits, and the laundry operator’s name is slightly different in each. The permits were issued for 823 Barnard, but by the time they were built it was 823 Union Street. The street directory says it was operated as Yee Yat’s laundry, but George Dunlap was the builder for either To Lo Wang, or To Loy Wing (the more likely name).

Next door, at 827 was the Standard Glass Co, built in 1910. There are two permits here – an initial $1,000 proposal for a store and then a more expensive $3,000 version which added both a store and dwelling house, which was the developed building (still standing today). This was designed by E Stanley Mitton for H M Thompson, and built by F M Parr and Sons. Henry M Thompson was secretary and treasurer of the glass company, and lived on York Avenue.

Standard Glass actually did work that was anything but standard. The firm was founded in 1909 or 1910 by Charles Bloomfield, the most experienced glass artisan in the city at that time. Bloomfield, his brother James, and father Henry founded the province’s first art and stained glass business, Henry Bloomfield and Sons, in New Westminster in 1891. Burned out by the great fire of 1898 they moved to Vancouver. James was a talented artist and glass designer who trained in the United States and England between 1896 and 1898. In 1904 he decided that prospects for quality stained and art glass work in the city were limited and the firm broke up. Charles acquired some of the technical and artistic expertise of his brother and carried this experience into the firms which he subsequently worked for and the one which he founded and managed in this building, Standard Glass. Charles initially lived upstairs, over the production space, although not for long.

By 1914 there were ‘foreigners’ in the first two houses on the block to the west of here, Yee Yet’s laundry, and Rothstein Bros, junk dealers had replaced Standard Glass. Charles Bloomfield was working elsewhere as foreman of the Western Plate Glass & Importing Co, and living on Yew Street. By 1916 almost the entire north side of the block was vacant, except for Yee Yick’s laundry, and ‘foreigners’ at 817. The two buildings stayed empty for many years. By 1924 827 was occupied by W Coste upstairs, with the Atlas Rubber Co on the main floor, but the laundry at 823 was still vacant. (Lawrence Coste was a salesman with Atlas Rubber).

By the end of the 1920s the laundry had reopened as the City Laundry, Chinese were living upstairs, and the Buckingham Chair Works was in the back of 823. Next door was residential on both floors – listed as ‘Chinese’. Chinese residents continued to occupy 827; in 1955 it was Low Chew and Low Sing. In 823 BC Paper Excelsior operated: tragedy struck a year later when fire broke out in the living space behind the works: Oliver Beaulieu, the proprietor, died in the blaze, as well as Harvey Markel, a visitor. A third man escaped through a basement window. From the state of the property in 1973 it may never have been occupied after that. The narrow Vancouver special that replaced the building was built in 1974.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 808-27 and CVA 780-332

 

 

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Franklin Street east from Commercial Drive

Franklin east

There’s buried treasure on the City Archives website in the form of thousands of images uploaded from the City Engineer’s collection, but with no description of what the picture shows. Here’s one that we’re dating to 1976, which we have identified as Franklin Street running uphill east from Commercial Drive. Today it forms part of the Powell Street industrial area, but it once had quite a different character. For a start, it wasn’t always called Franklin Street; it started life as Albert Street but got renamed in 1929 to avoid the confusion with Alberta Street. While we know who Franklin was,  nobody seems know who Albert was, so that’s another benefit.

At least one remaining building is over a hundred years old – Franklin House on the north side of the street dates from 1913 and was designed by W H Chow for owner Ah Sing, costing $35,000 for the “four-storey frame stores and rooms”. This wasn’t an isolated Chinese investment, there was significant development for Chinese owners in the area around here, especially on Albert Street (where development was mostly occurring on vacant lots). Although many of the names of tenants in this area in 1913 were not Chinese, it looks as if the main floor was initially occupied by Lee On & Co, who were described as ‘merchants’. They also operated in the traditional heart of Chinatown, occupying premises on East Pender. By 1915 many of the buildings in this new Chinatown area were listed as vacant, but it looks as if the apartments were known as the Peterson Apartments, managed by Mrs. C Harwood.

Franklin Apartments, Inlet View Court 1944 VPLThe building next door was another Chinese developed building, with an apparently traditional Vancouver Chinese design (with open balconies on the upper floors, seen better in this 1944 Vancouver Public Library image). It was a $12,000 development for ‘Kee, Kit & Don, Chow’, built by Rigby & Marsden in 1912 and designed as a three-storey brick store, hall & rooms designed by E Stanley Mitton. It was probably what the Province newspaper described that year as Mr Mitton’s ‘commercial block for the Chinese Society’. Mitton was born in Birmingham, England and mostly designed arts and craft homes for wealthy clients on the west side and Shaughnessy, so this commission is a bit unexpected.

It wasn’t Mitton’s only building here; he also designed a two-storey brick store & rooms (apartments) across the street which is probably the building on the right of the 1976 picture. It was built by Wilson & Smalles in 1912 at a cost of $12,000 for Chow, T. Tong & Kee, Kit – probably the same developers who built the 3-storey building. Owners Chow, Ting Tong & Kee, Kit also commissioned Mr. Mitton for a house they built on the 1900 block of Albert Street, so that’s probably Mr. Chow’s full name (and T Tong also commissioned a $28,000 apartment building on the 600 block of Harris Street). Mr. Mitton also designed a more expensive project for a Chinese client in 1912, a $46,000 Market Alley building for Wing Sang where he housed his extensive family. (which these days is the Rennie art gallery). Chow Tong was listed in the street directory in 1912 living at 804 East 12th Avenue, a house that cost $5,500 and was designed in 1911 for Mr. Chow by Stanley Mitton. Mr. Chow was listed in the Chinese section of the street directory as being in real estate – which these developments clearly support. Ting Chow also had Black Brothers design some alterations to his property at 229 Pender Street in 1912, and he had other property on East Hastings, Harris Street and Carrall Street up to 1916. Mr. Kee also had Mr Mitton design some improvements to his house on Lakewood Drive, the addition of a garage.

Mr. Kee may not have generated his investment funds entirely from legitimate sources. It appears that Kee Kit was also sometimes known as Wong Kee Kit, and in 1920 he was shown in the street directories as being the manager of a grocery company shown as Kwong Wo Long at 262 East Pender. The company had been in Chinatown for some time; they received some compensation in 1907 for damage in the riots that year to their property at 13 Pender Street. In 1921 someone with the name of Kee Kit – described as a manager with the Wong Wo Lung Company – was identified in a newspaper article as the alleged owner of a farm on Lulu Island in Richmond where $30,000 of opium was seized (said to be the highest value of opium ever found). “The police state that the farm was a distribution depot and that opium was sent not only into Vancouver and surrounding towns, but also across the United States border,” the Vancouver Sun explained. “In addition to the opium a complete outfit, alleged to be used in cooking opium, was also seized.” “Totalling up the seizure the officers found that they had 40 large tins, the retail value of which they estimate at $400 each; 39 smaller tins, of the kind usually retailed in addicts and opium dens at $100 each, and a bucket containing enough opium to fill 40 of these smaller tins.” After spending the night in jail, owner Kee Kit, and seven others arrested with him, were released on $1000 bail.” We haven’t been able to find out what happened to Mr. Kee after this.

Nearly forty years later, apart from the loss of the two Stanley Mitton designed buildings not too much has changed. The large new premises at the top of the street, on the right, are part of a complex of buildings found throughout this area that are the processing plant for Hallmark Poultry, one of the largest food processors in the city, designed by Christopher Bozyk Architects.

Image source, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-227

Posted April 6, 2015 by ChangingCity in Altered, East End

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