Archive for the ‘G L Thornton Sharp’ Tag

West Pender Street east from Cambie

Sometimes we notice that the most obvious buildings have been overlooked on this blog. Here’s one of the most glaring examples; the World Building, today known as The Sun Tower. These days, from this angle, the lower part of the building is hidden by the street trees, but in 1920, when this Vancouver Public Library image was shot, it was clearly visible. The triangular piece of land fronted by Beatty and West Pender was part of the old City Hospital grounds, but the buildings were set further south, with land reserved to allow Pender to continue to Beatty, although the road was never actually built.

Newspaper mogul L B Taylor hired W T Whiteway to design his new office building in 1910, and it was completed in 1912. The Vancouver Daily World was the city’s biggest paper of the day, and the World Building the most prestigious offices, with a claim when completed (published on postcards of the time) of being the tallest building in the British Empire – although the Contract Record only acknowledged it as the tallest in Vancouver. Whiteway was an experienced and busy architect, and he had also received the commission for the warehouse (originally described as a business building) also clearly visible in 1920, next door on Beatty Street for Storey and Campbell, completed in 1911 and built by Snider & Bros for $60,000. G L Sharp, in an interview recorded in the 1970s, claimed that the design of the World Building was actually his, and that he was paid $300 and Whiteway given the design to complete. Another source suggest E S Mitton also collaborated.

L D Taylor had arrived in Vancouver from Ann Arbour in Michigan in 1896, escaping his failed bank and abandoning his wife. He reinvented himself in Vancouver without mentioning many details of his past life – especially the fact that he was wanted by Michigan authorities in connection with the bank failure. Failing to find work in a depressed economy, he tried gold mining in California, then the Yukon, and ended up back in Vancouver in 1898 with 25c in his pocket. He worked at the Province newspaper running their distribution and circulation, and ran successfully for election as a Licence Commissioner in 1902, although he lost in 1903.

In 1905, having persuaded various financial backers to help, he took over the World newspaper, the Province’s rival, and set about boosting its sales. He ran for mayor (coming second) in 1909, and winning in 1910 aged 53, and again a year later. By the start of the Great War there was a new rival paper, the Sun, rising newsprint costs and falling advertising revenue. These caused the World to face a financial crisis. In 1915, Taylor ran and won as mayor again, on the same day a judge ruled that the paper had to be sold to pay its creditors. Taylor lost his paper fortune with the buy-out, and the new owners of the paper abandoned it’s building overnight, although Louis Taylor was no longer associated with the building’s owners, the World Building Company. In 1916 he married the newspaper’s former business manager, Alice Berry, (and a year later got round to divorcing his first wife in California).

Louis Taylor hadn’t personally develop the tower; the World Building Company was initially organized by Taylor, and they planned to spend $375,000 to develop it. On the permit they claimed to be building it themselves, but actually it was Smith and Sherborne, and the final cost was $560,000. It had a “class A steel frame; reinforced concrete floors; materials, stone, brick and terra cotta.” An added detail not shown on the original design were nine barely clad maidens, designed by Charles Marega, who graced the top of the 8th storey pediment. Financing proved difficult, and L D was accused of bending the rules by negotiating with J J Hill’s Great Northern Railway (as Mayor) for their new terminus station while at the same time persuading Hill to loan funds to the World Building Company.

Once the World was out of the building in 1915, it became the Tower Building. A variety of office tenants continued to occupy the building, including architect E E Blackmore. After the war the Pride of The West Knitting Mills were located on the second floor where the newspaper had once been produced. After coming second for three elections in a row, L D Taylor was elected mayor again in 1924, and was re-elected two more times. He lost in 1928, after 2-year terms had been introduced, but won again in 1930, when the Tower Building had become the Bekins Building, owned by Bekins Moving and Storage. Taylor was re-elected mayor again for the last time in 1932, at the age of 74.

The Vancouver Sun was published in the building between 1937 and 1964 and left its name with the tower, so that today it’s still known as ‘The Sun Tower’. It’s still an office building, despite most of the rest of the Beatty Street commercial buildings converting to residential uses.

 

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Hastings Street Court House (2)

We looked at an image of this Courthouse building a couple of years ago, but from Pender Street, looking down the hill of Cambie. Here’s a postcard from around 1908 of the north face of the building, facing West Hastings. This shows N S Hoffar’s 1893 Provincial Courthouse addition – although it was actually twice as big as the original (and more modest) building designed by T C Sorby in 1889 and completed in 1890, which was located closer to Pender Street. From this angle, that building sitting behind the addition, almost hidden by trees but just showing on the left. On the right is a picture of the building in 1890. The maple trees on the Pender Street frontage are among the oldest in the city, planted in 1897.

Once the new courthouse was completed a few years later, on West Georgia, there was some debate about what to do with the old building. Despite its impressive appearance in the postcard, as a May 1909 Daily World letter suggests, not everybody was in love with the building. “With regard to the court house itself, they all knew it was one of the most disgraceful buildings that existed in the province. It was more or less in a foul and filthy condition all the time, but no blame could be attached to the officials. It was simply an incommodious and inconvenient building. Certainly it had been a standing menace to the health of the judges, juries and officials generally.”

Mayor Douglas suggested it might make a good City Hall, but the general view seems to have been that it wasn’t big enough (and presumably letters like the one above also had some influence). Instead it was decided to clear the structure and create an open space, which was named Government Square. During the first World War the site was used as a recruiting office, with a number of tents and temporary buildings. An Evangelical Tabernacle was also created as a temporary structure in 1917. The park was given the name Victory Square in 1922 and two years later the Cenotaph, designed by G L Sharp, was built through public subscription.

Image source (1890 image) City of Vancouver Archives Bu P390

Posted April 3, 2017 by ChangingCity in Gone, Victory Square

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Hastings Street Court House (1)

The first Court House at Hastings and Cambie Street was built in 1890, designed by T C Sorby. It sat on an almost triangular lot where the two different grids of the city met – the midway point between the Canadian Pacific’s new city area to the west and the older Gastown to the east. As the city grew rapidly, and criminal activity along with it, the Court House needed and got a significant makeover. Popular and flamboyant (in architectural terms) N S Hoffar was hired to add a classical addition more than double the size whose dome and temple facade made it a grand, but controversial building (at least among the established British born architects). Completed in 1893 it stayed in use only until 1911, so this 1906 image shows it towards the end of its use.

In 1907 a new Court House was started at Georgia Street, designed by Francis Rattenbury – and like this one, that too immediately had to be enlarged by Thomas Hooper. The new building opened in 1911 and the one shown here was torn down. At the end of the Great War the location became the home for the Cenotaph, designed by G L Thornton Sharp, architect and park commissioner. It has been reworked since then, but still offers a welcome green space surrounded by significant buildings that pre-date the creation of the park, including the Dominion Building, the Flack Block and the Province Building.

Posted January 17, 2012 by ChangingCity in Gone, Victory Square

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