Archive for the ‘Gardiner & Mercer’ Tag

Davie Street – 1100 block, north side

Davie Street has seen a significant change since this 1928 image, when it was basically a row of houses, (with, on this block, one exception, the store at 1135 Davie). Remarkably, one of those houses is still standing today, which was all we had to line up the picture. Today it’s the Ghurka Kitchen restaurant upstairs (a use added in 2005), but as a house it was built around 1900, numbered as 1141 Davie (although soon after it became 1139 which it still is today), and it was a matching pair with 1137, the house to the east. They were the only two houses on this side of the block in 1901, although there were three more to the east, off the edge of the picture. A Davis, an engineer was in 1141 that year, joined by Captain Frank B Turner at 1137, later that year.

Archibald Davis was originally from New Brunswick, was aged 53, and married to Alice, who was 15 years younger, and they had three children. He was an engineer with the Canadian Pacific Railway, and he seems to have newly arrived in Vancouver when he moved into the house. He lived here until 1906, and a year later D A Williams of the Woods Hotel moved in.

Captain Turner was aged 41, lived with his wife Nellie, who was ten years younger, and he was captain of a steam boat. He was Irish, and Nellie was German, and they arrived in 1901. Captain Turner had previously been in Oregon, captaining The Wonder, a steamboat on the Columbia River used by the logging industry. He also captained the Bailey Gatzert, ‘the finest sternwheeler on Puget Sound’ when she was launched in 1891. Captain Turner, and his wife seem to have left Vancouver around 1903, and The Daily Oregon published two adjacent notices in 1904, announcing the birth of a daughter, on December 28th, and her death on the same day. In 1906, William Barnard, a jeweller was at 1137, but the occupant in 1904 (possibly tenant, given the turnover), was Irving Young, a clerk.

Alfred Wallace, a carpenter was living on a lot down the street, and a big house was completed in 1902, (1165 Davie was the only double width lot on the block), built by Thomas Hunter (for an inaccurately recorded W Wallace) and costing $3,000 – which was a lot of money tp spend on a house in 1901. Alfred was shown in the 1901 census as a shipbuilder, and had arrived in Canada from England in 1887. In 1891 he moved west and following his father’s profession, starting a small False Creek shipyard in 1894. By 1906 he had moved his business to the North Shore as Wallace Shipyards, and in 1921 as Burrard Drydock. His son Clarence took over the business on his death in 1929, and the Lonsdale yard became one of the largest shipbuilders in the province. The family continued to live on Davie after the shipyard had moved across the Inlet.

Four more houses were added to the block in 1903 – 1143 to 1157 were four almost identical houses, developed by ‘Mr. McGinnis’ at a cost of $8,000 and built by ‘C Mills and Williams’. The clerk who filled in the permit wasn’t too familiar with the builders, as they were actually Mills and Williamson. Charles F Mills lived two blocks from here in the early 1900s. He was born in Nova Scotia and arrived in Vancouver in 1888. It appears he lived and worked at Hastings Mill for a few years, but by 1894 was living in Fairview and had established his business as builder and contractor. By 1911 the Mills family had moved to West Point Grey, with five daughters and two sons at home aged between 3 and 16, his wife Jane and his sister, Margaret. Charles died in 1919. George E Williamson was from Ontario, and started as a carpenter before becoming a contractor. Mills and Williamson must have employed a sizeable workforce; in 1905 they completed 75 different building projects. The partnership lasted for several years, and Mr. Williamson then continued as a contractor on his own, and in 1914 built the new Main Street post office known today as Heritage Hall.

Their employer remains a mystery. John McGinnis was recorded by the census (although not by the street directory), and he was a ship’s carpenter, so is unlikely to have had $8,000 to commission four substantial houses. There was briefly a famer called McGinnis living on Robson Street around 1902, but we know nothing more about him, and he wasn’t shown in 1901. The other two McGinnises in the early 1900s were a moulder and a logger, so equally unlikely developers.

The house that was a store in 1928, 1135 Davie, was built around 1905, and initially Irvin Joyce, who was retired, moved in. He was still living there five years later, which suggests he may have had the house built for him. He was 57 when he moved in, and the 1911 census said he was a retired merchant. His wife Lizzie was twenty years younger, and they had two daughters at home. We can find Irvin in Tyendinaga, Hastings, Ontario in 1871, aged 27, with his Bible Christian family, led by his Irish farmer father, Valentine Joyce. We can’t trace the family before arriving in Vancouver, and they weren’t elsewhere in the city before moving in, but both Lizzie and their teenage daughters were born in Ontario. The Daily World recorded that ‘Irvine’ Joyce died in 1922, having moved to the city in 1904, and the death notice said he had been a contractor. In 1921 Irvin and Elizabeth were shown living on West 12th Avenue, and one daughter was still at home; in that census Arleyo Belden, who that year was described as his step daughter.

It looks as if the addition of the store took place in 1923, when 1135 was shows as vacant. Owner James Blackwood hired Gardiner & Mercer to design $2,500 of alterations to the building. In 1924 Louis Rosenberg was running a cleaning business at 1133 and Mr. Rose was living upstairs at 1135. The cleaners was still in business in 1928, when the picture was taken.

Today to the right is a drugstore, built in 1982 and set back on the lot with parking in front. The retail units beyond the Ghurka Kitchen (which was a rooming house in 1970) were built in the early 1970s. In the foreground is the street patio of Stepho’s Souvlaki Greek Taverna, converted from street parking spots.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Str N266.1

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Howe Street – 500 block, west side (1)

This 1981 image shows a block that really hasn’t changed in nearly 40 years, despite being ‘underbuilt’. On the corner is a 1978 tower designed by Underwood, McKinley, Wilson and Smith. It replaced an earlier building that we looked at in an earlier post (and as it looked a little earlier). The new tower was developed by Grander Developments, the Canadian arm of UK Property developers Hammerson.

Across the lane is a 1935 Art Deco building designed by Gardiner and Mercer. It started life as the Pacific Athletic Club, developed by Jack Pattison, and more recently became the Executive Building. In the 1970s it was home to Maximillians Club and Symphony Hall, but today it’s office space. It’s bigger than it appears on the street, with six floors tiered back from Howe Street.

There are pictures from 1936 of the interior, including this one. There was a badminton court, a very comfortable lounge on the main floor, and 2 squash courts on the top floor. To watch squash you had to climb up a ladder and go along a walkway in order to sit on plank seats behind the courts. The courts were repurposed as a second gymnasium after the war.

The membership numbers boomed after 1947 when it became legal for the club to serve alcohol to members. After prohibition only a limited number of beer parlours were able to sell liquor to the public, and operated under very restrictive rules. Nightclubs (theoretically) couldn’t serve alcohol until the mid 1960s – patrons smuggled their own drinks in and kept them under the table.

Next door is a 1928 building that by 1981 had a contemporary glazed façade replacing the original.

This block of Howe Street became commercial in the 1920s – it started life as a mostly residential street, as this 1913 image shows. Traffic appears to have been busier than it is today, but the caption explains that it was the Rotary Club leaving the Compressed Gas Company’s offices for the Royal Nurseries on August 12th.

In 1981 there was (and still is) a relatively tall, narrow office building from 1966 at 549 Howe, which replaced a store developed by motor engineer Harry Hoffmeister in 1913. There’s a 1923 two storey retail store next door at 551 and a three storey building from 1929 to the south at 555, and a single storey 1933 building next to that.

The next single storey retail building is the oldest on the block, from 1912, developed by real estate agent J J Grey and originally designed by A E Cline, costing $6,000 to build.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W04.30 CVA 99-4465 and CVA Bu P535

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Posted September 23, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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835 Cambie Street

This modest 1929 warehouse has been repurposed as an office building for many years. Originally it was built for Electrical Distributors Ltd, a company wholesaling electrical wires, cables, conduit, lamps, ranges, heaters and radios. They were also the BC Distributors of Ice-O-Matic Electrical refrigerators (still in business today making commercial ice machines). Gardiner & Mercer were the architects for the building, and in 1991 Musson Cattell Mackey designed the conversion to office space, used as classrooms by the Law Society who built their offices on the adjacent site to the south.

The electrical supply firm only occupied the space for a few years; by 1936 it was vacant, and at the end of the 1930s Barham Drugs were using the warehouse. From 1940 for at least 15 years this became a warehouse for Coast Paper, later joined by Package Productions, who were wholesalers of cartons. Before it was restored in the early 1990s it was also used as a distillery and as a restaurant. It’s seen here in 1985.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-1776

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Posted January 25, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Heatley and East Pender Street – se corner

The building known today as Alexander Court started life as the city’s first purpose-built synagogue. In 1907 a new Orthodox Jewish congregation appeared, named B’nai Yehudah (also known as Sons of Israel). Their first services were held in a small rented home, at 14 West Cordova, but in 1910 the ‘Sons of Israel’ purchased property at Pender and Heatley and by 1911 a Synagogue was built large enough to hold 200 worshipers. W T Whiteway was the architect, and the building was located in the centre of the plot, facing Heatley Avenue.

The congregation was renamed “Schara Tzedeck”, upon being legally incorporated on June 14th 1917, and continued raising funds to build a bigger building. In 1921 a new synagogue opened, designed by Gardiner & Mercer as a Romanesque building that resembles the mission revival style of design. The original building wasn’t replaced, rather it was moved to the back of the lot next to the lane and incorporated into the new structure which had a capacity of 600. The undated but early image (left) shows that part of the building. Our main image dates from the 1920s.

The congregation used the building until the end of 1947, when they moved to a new building in Oakridge, an area where many of the congregation had also moved to. The old building was reused – although the street directory company weren’t exactly sure by whom, as the directory entry for 1948 just says “occupied”. By 1949 it was acknowledged that it was the Vancouver Boys’ Club Association, and it became the Gibbs Boys Club, sponsored by Rufus Gibbs, owner of Gibbs Tool and Stamping Works. This sounds like a heavy industry concern, but actually its main product was fishing lures. Gibbs lived alone, occupying an entire floor of the Patricia Hotel for 42 years, although he never owned a car or a TV. Mr. Gibbs died in 1968, and by the time W A Graham shot this picture in 1977 the building was boarded up, having lost Provincial Government funding. By then the building had some significant structural issues, and it was sold in 1980, and then sat empty for six years. It was converted to condos, designed by Spaceworks, in one of the earliest examples of adaptive reuse of a heritage structure in the city. One additional historical connection is worth noting; the first meeting of SPOTA: (the Strathcona Property Owners and Tenants Association) took place here on December 14, 1968. SPOTA were responsible for limiting the ‘slum clearance’ of the Strathcona area and its subsequent renewal.

Image sources: Vancouver Public Library, Jewish Museum and Archives of BC L-00391, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1135-20

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579 Granville Street

579 Granville

We’re reasonably certain this building was constructed in 1907, added to in 1912 and again in 1919. Hooper & Watkins designed a building for Gordon Drysdale in 1907 on Granville Street – and this is where that company was based. In 1912 the building had a $9,000 addition, designed by S B Birds of ‘mill construction’ – which we’re guessing was the top floor. In 1919 Gardiner and Mercer designed another $4,000 addition, “Repairs; addition of brick construction w stone trimmings to present premises; addition 25×40 ft, intended to furnish add’l accom. for firm’s growing business”.

drysdaleGordon and his wife Maria, and both their older children were born in Nova Scotia (George in 1888 and Janet in 1892), but their youngest son, Norman, was born in BC in 1895. Like many of our successful businessmen and developers, the Drysdale family lived in the West End at 825 Broughton. He was born in Truro, Nova Scotia into a farming family with Scottish roots, and at 15 apprenticed with a mercantile company, setting up and managing a branch store in New Glasgow from 1881 to 1884 (when he was aged 25). That year he partnered with his brother, Dan, but they soon parted company with Dan moving west and Gordon running the business on his own until 1892, when he brought his young family to Vancouver, buying out the general merchants  Haley & Sutton on Cordova Street. He moved to the corner of Cambie & Cordova in 1899, and the to Hastings in 1903, partnering with Charles Stevenson as Stevenson & Drysdale. Victoria-based rival David Spencer wanted to open up, buying Stevenson out first, then a year later Drysdale, who moved to new premises on Granville Street.

A 1914 biographical portrait describes the business His is the finest exclusive store in Vancouver, or in all western Canada, an extensive stock of high-class goods being carried. The store is most attractive in all its equipments and appointments and courtesy on the part of all employes is demanded, patrons receiving every possible attention. The company was the first in Vancouver to inaugurate six o’clock closing, and in 1912 they introduced the plan of closing on Saturdays, during July and August, at one o’clock. They are practically the only firm in the city today who follow this practice and have naturally earned the thankfulness of their employes, whose loyalty to the house has been greatly increased by this measure. The store further enjoys the enviable reputation of employing only first-class help and paying therefor first-class salaries.

Drysdale's interior 1922 VPLThe employes are well treated and many measures are undertaken to contribute to their welfare and comfort. The business is a general dry-goods, millinery, and ladies’ and children’s furnishings establishment and they also maintain a carpet and draperies department. The fundamental principle upon which it is built is to treat the public fairly, and their reputation is that their advertisements are always strictly confined to statements of facts, and the public accept these advertisements absolutely for what they say. It has been the motto of the firm “never to misrepresent,” and that such conduct is appreciated is evident from their ever increasing patronage.”

Unlike almost all the successful businessmen we have come across “Mr. Drysdale is a member of no clubs or societies, preferring home life when not occupied with the cares of management of an extensive business.” The Library have a 1922 shot of the building’s interior, rather daringly featuring the lingerie department. Gordon died in 1932, aged 73, survived by his second wife, Hilda, Maria having died at home on Broughton Street in 1926, aged 64.

woodsNext door to the south, we looked at 559 Granville in an earlier post. By 1945, when this picture was taken, 579 Granville was occupied by tailors Paterson & Bell, and F W Beaton – civil and military tailor. They had their signs on the third floor, and shared the floor with manufacturers agents in other suites. On the second floor were Cluett, Peabody & Co who were agents for Arrow shirts and collars. The York Knit Mills had been here, but were replaced by Woods lingerie who had their advert peeking over the lace curtain. There was a wholesale jeweller on the top floor, and the main floor had Wilson’s glove and hosiery store and the Eden Café. When homeless veterans occupied the vacant Second Hotel Vancouver (two blocks up the hill) in 1946, the Eden supplied 150 meals.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1184-1864

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25 and 27 Alexander Street

25 Alexander

To the west of the Captain French building on Alexander Street are several buildings that were previously more varied in height than they are today. They were all converted to housing around the same time, completed in 1995 and 1997, and designed by Paul Merrick (according to the permits, at least), and called Alexander and The Alexis. The two buildings, share common areas such as the lobby, hallways, and parking entrance. They also share the same address but not the same strata council making them one of the more unusual buildings in the city with a total of 58 residential lofts and 2 commercial units. Today the single-storey garage building forms the entrance to parking – there is no lane here as the rail tracks are right to the back of the building. The garage was built in 1920 for the lesee, D Marks, cost $3,500, and was designed by Gardiner & Mercer.

In our 1937 Vancouver Public Library photograph the four storey building was being used as a warehouse by the Vancouver Supply Company, a wholesale grocer. The building was used first by Knowler and McCauley around 1908, who were first listed as ‘Commission Agents’ and had previously occupied premises on Cordova Street. We haven’t successfully identified the architect of the building. James Macaulay was born in 1853 in Colombo, Ceylon; was first employed by Hewitt & Wingate calico printers in Glasgow and in Vancouver started Knowler & Macaulay wholesale provision merchants. William E Knowler was born in England and arrived in Canada in 1885. The 1901 census recorded him with his family: wife Rachel, sister-in-law Ellen Andrew and his three daughters, Elsie, Margaret and Gladys. William lived on Melville Street, while James and his wife Katherine and daughter Dorothy at 829 Richards Street. Charles Thompson, a manufacturer’s agent also worked here.

In 1911 Knowler & Macaulay  shared the building with Hamblin & Brereton Ltd (wholesale grocers from Winnipeg) and the Hallman & Peniston Machinery Co. Knowler & Macaulay were still occupying the building in the 1920s when they were identified as wholesale confectioners. Their last year here was 1929, and a year later the Vancouver Supply Company took over the property. They also bought the adjoining two-storey building which was numbered as 15 Alexander St when it first opened, designed in 1906 by architect Alexander Muir. He was a Scot with work throughout BC, and especially in Victoria where he was based and this is the only building we know he designed in Vancouver.

The B.C. Market Company developed the two storey building to the west. They were long-established butchers and meat packers, with premises in Victoria and Vancouver (on Carrall street) before 1900.  They imported some of their livestock by boat – the ‘Ramona’ brought them 310 sheep in 1906. They shared the building with other businesses; in 1907 a new Orthodox congregation appeared in Vancouver, named B’nai Yehudah (also known as Sons of Israel). The first Vancouver synagogue did not appear until 1911, when B’nai Yehudah was built at the corner of East Pender and Heatley Streets, and in 1908 they were meeting here, in premises numbered as 25 Alexander Street shared with R Robinson & Co who were wholesale brokers.

Despite suggestions that this was a fire station – it never was. The building was later purchased in the 1930s by the Pegg family to join 27 and 29 Alexander Street to serve as the headquarters and distribution centre for the Vancouver Supply Company, the family’s wholesale grocery business. They combined the buildings and were still occupying them into the 1950s, and right through to their sale in the 1908s.

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Posted March 5, 2015 by ChangingCity in Altered, Gastown

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The Dawson Building – 375 Main Street (1)

Judging from the building permit record, George Dawson owned a fair amount of property in the East End of Vancouver. The one major structure we know he commissioned was the block named after him at Main and East Hastings. It seems like a huge building in the context of three storey buildings to the east – and that was just as true when it was completed in 1911 at a cost of $180,000. The ‘architect’ of record was its builder, Bedford Davidson. George Dawson was born in New Brunswick, and it looks like an obvious connection could be suggested as ‘Building the West’ says Bedford Davidson was born in Tidnish, New Brunswick. Sadly, the connection breaks down when the 1901 and 1911 Census returns are checked – in both entries Bedford Davidson was born in Nova Scotia (although he does age from 25 to 39 in 10 years).

Davidson built a number of other substantial structures in the city, and eventually got into trouble for calling himself an architect without being a member of the AIBC. A comprehensive review of Vancouver’s early buildings suggested the architects were Gardiner and Mercer, which given the scale of the project might be true as it seems a bit ambitious for a builder to attempt. Since 1985 the building, now called The Ford Building, has offered affordable housing in 76 units. (Oh, and spot the lineman dangling in the 1920 picture).

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-809

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