Archive for the ‘F N Bender’ Tag

Empress and Phoenix Hotels – East Hastings Street

Here’s the Empress and the Phoenix Hotel on East Hastings in 1981. The Empress was built in 1913 for L L Mills, while next door the Phoenix (as it was called in 1981) had been built as the Empress Hotel in 1908 by V W Haywood.

Vicker Wallace Haywood, (who understandably preferred to be known as Wallace), was born in PEI in 1864. He worked on the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1883, and Esquimalt Dry Dock in 1885, and arrived in Granville in time for it to burn to the ground. He became a policeman in Vancouver in 1886, featuring in the posed image of the four policeman standing in front of the City Hall tent. (That image was taken several months after the city rebuilding had started). His police post became a little precarious in 1889, when he and Jackson T Abray, another constable, were accused of pocketing fees for rounding up absent sailors and returning them to their ships, as well as using the chain gang to clear their respective yards. As the other two policemen at the time faced more serious charges, (and Chief Stewart was dismissed), they were allowed to return the fees, pay $10 for the use of the prisoners, and keep their jobs. In 1892 he was still in the police but jointly owned the Cosmopolitan Hotel on Cordova Street with Jackson Abray, (who was no longer a policeman), and by 1895 he was a Sergeant, but continued to face accusations of corruption from a vindictive Alderman W H Gallagher, described by the Daily World as a ‘despot’.

There’s more about Mr. Haywood on the WestEndVancouver blog. He took the opportunity to leave Vancouver in 1897 and headed off to the Klondike to find gold. Unlike many of his compatriots, he was very successful, bringing back $55,000 of gold from his stake on Bonanza Creek in his third year, and featuring in the New York Times. (His first year was said to have been worth $60,000). He spent winter 1898 in New York, and met Captain Jack Cates in the Klondike, and on their return they jointly owned a steamship, the Defiance, and in 1900 bought a property on Bowen Island established by Joseph Mannion. They renamed the property the Hotel Monaco, with campgrounds and picnic sites but in 1901 Mr. Haywood sold out to Captain Cates, who continued the enterprise with new partners, Evans, Coleman & Evans.

That year Mr. Haywood returned to PEI and married Minnie Woodside, and in 1907 he formed a real estate agency with his brother, William. In 1908 he developed a hotel, designed by H B Watson, and when it opened in 1909 called the Empress, run by Alex Burr.

L L Mills apparently acquired the hotel in 1910. Lyle Le Roy Mills was born in the US, in Iowa, and in 1911 was aged 42. His wife Elsie was from Sweden, three years younger, and like the Haywood family they lived in the West End. It was an extended family as Lyle’s mother, Margaret who was 85 was living with them, and Elsie’s mother, Carrie Swensen, and her sister, Ellen. Lyle’s brother, Oscar and his wife Cora were also living at 1967 Barclay with their children, Oscar Le Roy, 13, and Earl Van, 11. Oscar worked as a barman at the Hotel. Lyle and Elsie had married in Washington state in 1904, and it may not have been Elsie’s first marriage as she was Elsie Anderson.

In 1912 Mr. Mills obtained a permit to build a new much bigger hotel addition next door. The new Empress, costing $90,000 was described as the ‘world’s narrowest tallest hotel’ when it was built, and was the only Vancouver building designed by F N Bender. Like Mr Mills and his brother Oscar, who also worked at the Empress, the architect was an American, working in Independence, Kansas, and he almost certainly got the job because he was married to Lyle and Oscar’s sister. Elsie Mills was recorded as designing a building a house for herself on East 46th Avenue in the same year.

The last reference to Mr. Mills as proprietor of the Empress was in 1917. He disappears from the street directory that year, and seems to have moved to Seattle. There’s also a more detailed biography on the WestEndVancouver blog. He died in Lakeview, Washington in 1948, fourteen years after his brother, Oscar, who died in Vancouver in 1934.

It appears that he might have sold the hotels back to V W Haywood (or perhaps the financial arrangement for the two hotels was more complex). In 1918 W Haywood carried out repairs to 235 E Hastings. Mr. Haywood stayed in the city for many years, and seems to have a variety of investment interests; (in 1930 for example he was listed as a fox farmer). V W Haywood died in Vancouver in 1950, and was buried in the Masonic Cemetery in Burnaby. His wife Minnie died in 1956 and was buried with her husband.

By the 1930s the two hotel establishments were operated separately; in 1935 the newer building was called the “New Empress Hotel, 235 E Hastings. Edith M. Gilbert, Owner and Manager, 60 Rooms with Private Baths. Fireproof, Strictly Modern. Rates at Moderate Prices”. Next door was the Old Empress Hotel (H Iwasaki) rooms 237 E Hastings. Today the Empress is a privately owned SRO Hotel, while the older hotel is now the Chinese Toi Shan Society family association building.

Image source: Peter B Clibbon


Posted March 5, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

Tagged with , , ,

East Hastings and Main – north east corner

Main & Hastings ne 2

This supposedly 1930 image shows the corner of Main and Hastings where today’s building is quite a bit smaller than the earlier one. There’s a 1905 picture that shows the site part built, but it may not have been completed until early in 1906. In 1899 Miss McLennan, a dressmaker and Captain Garthley, a master mariner, lived here, with a Japanese boarding house to the east. A year later, George Wilson, a clerk lived on the corner and H Hamamura’s boarding house was next door. H J Stubbs, a jeweler had moved into the corner house in 1901, and a year later Mrs Bourgeois a dressmaker replaced him, and a year after that Mrs. E J Coleman, another dressmaker. (We’re assuming that these dressmaker’s made dresses, and were not offering other services that some ‘dressmakers’ offered on Dupont Street). Dan Nicholson, a tailor lived on the corner in 1904 and 1905, with the boarding house now run by a Mr. Yuchmi. J S McLeod, a merchant, had premises to the north, on Westminster Avenue.

Main & Hastings 1905-06 (Timms)In 1906 the new property on the corner was occupied by J S Mcleod, Macbeth & Co, selling dry goods. They’re clearly the occupants in this 1906 Philip Timms image; their name is prominently displayed on the corner. The company described themselves as Importers of Dry Goods, Mantles, Millinery, Ready to Wear, Carpets, and House furnishings. They could have been responsible for developing the property, but we haven’t found a record to prove that. They were only located here for five years, moving again in 1911 to Granville Street. William Charles Macbeth, a Scotsman from Buckie in Banffshire had partnered with J S Mcleod in 1903, although the company claimed to have been founded in 1894. Before joining J S McLeod he worked for grocer William Walsh. In 1911 he moved (as so many Vancouver businessmen did) into real estate with the company of Macbeth and Brown.

In 1911 the Union Bank of Canada occupied the corner premises, with a side entrance on East Hastings, There were several other offices in the building, occupied by tenants that included Hindi Realty Brokerage and the Socialist Party of Canada. In 1914 it was listed for the first time as the McArthur & Harper Bldg, and while the Realty Brokerage had gone, the Socialists were still here, joined by the Halibut Fishermen’s Union. Harper & McArthur had owned the building from at least 1911 when it was enlarged at a cost of $35,000 to Parr and Fee’s designs. We initially assumed that represented the addition of two floors – it was a substantial sum to spend, but the building was already three storeys in 1905. It would seem that the addition might have been at the rear, down the lane.

Over the years there were many alterations made to the building – around 20 different building permits, sometimes only referencing Mr. McArthur, but usually the company, McArthur & Harperwhich more frequently was known as McArthur & Harper. As with Vancouver merchants they made their fortunes in mining – not by finding gold (which was obviously much more of a gamble), but by the more assured route of supplying the miners with the provisions they needed – based in Kamloops – as this 1897 advertisement shows. That doesn’t mean they were entirely averse to gambling;  J.H. Morrison, A.S. McArthur and J.M. Harper in 1906 had an interest in the Evening Star group of mineral claims in Galaxy Mine, about eight kilometers outside Kamloops. It doesn’t appear that ore was ever mined successfully, although there have been repeated attempts to exploit the copper and gold deposits. (The only reported production was A S McArthur extracting 902 grams of silver and 2,552 kilograms of copper from 53 tons of ore in 1916). There have been extensive further reports, tests, surveys and attempts to restart mining, which continue to this day.

Mr. Harper stayed on in Kamloops, and continued to be associated with the McArthur & Harper store. He was still resident in 1918. In 1911 Mr McArthur was living on Burnaby Street with his extended family. As well as his wife, Maud, and their three children, his brother, parents and mother-in-law were all resident as well as their domestic, Alice Winwood. Mr McArthur was aged 45 and had been born in Quebec like his parents, although his mother-in-law was Scottish and his wife was from Ontario.

The reason we question the accuracy of the suggested 1930 date on the photograph is that the construction of the replacement was started in 1929. Honeyman and Curtis were the architects of three different new branches for the Bank of Montreal; another was only a few blocks south of this one, at Prior Street and the third further south at East Broadway. With all three they favoured a classical style, here featuring Corinthian columns and the bank’s crest carved over the doorway.

Next door (across the lane) was the Empress Hotel. Built in 1913 for L L Mills it was almost certainly inaccurately described as the ‘world’s narrowest tallest hotel’ when it was built. Mr. Mills had acquired the older hotel next door at 237 Hastings Street in 1910, and the new building was called the “New Empress Hotel”. Lyle Mills was American, almost certainly born in Iowa. His father was a hotelier, and so was his brother, Oscar, who also worked at the Empress. The hotel is the only Vancouver design by F N Bender. He was an American too, working in Independence, Kansas, and he almost certainly got the job because he was married to Lyle and Oscar’s sister. The last reference to Mr. Mills as proprietor of the Empress was in 1917. He disappears from the street directory that year, and seems to have moved to Seattle.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-293