Archive for the ‘H B Watson’ Tag

West Georgia and Broughton Street

This view westwards was taken by Ernie Reksten in 1965, mid-block in the 1400 block, looking at the buildings on the south side of West Georgia. On the far side of Broughton is the Georgian Towers hotel, dating back to 1955. Designed by Sharp, Thompson, Berwick and Pratt, and built by Marwell Construction, it replaced houses that were first developed on the site, overlooking Burrard’s Inlet. The tower started life in 1955 as a rental apartment building before being converted to a hotel in 1958. In the late 1970s it became apartments once again, and the adjacent parking lot closer to us saw a strata tower developed, ‘The George’, completed in 2002. Plans have recently been submitted to replace the seismically challenged 1955 building with a 49 storey tower that will replace the 162 rental units on the lower floors and add an additional 193 strata units.

Closer to us, on the east side of Broughton were the ‘Majestic Apartments’, developed around 1908, and designed by H B Watson. He was hired by contractor and investor J J Dissette. It was a classy building in its earlier days; one of its first tenants was Thomas Spencer, son of retail impresario David Spencer, and manager of the family’s Hastings Street store. A couple of years later Archie Barnes Martin, the managing director of Pacific Mills was in Number 5, and in the mid 1920s Samuel Emanuels, an auctioneer, notary public and for a while the Brazilian vice-consul lived in Number 6.

By the mid 1950s there were still 15 tenants living in the apartments, including Eileen Burden, secretary at Pemberton Insurance, Robert Adamson, an immigration officer, Ronald Woods, a manager with the Hudson’s Bay Company, who shared a suite with Frederick Woods, janitor with radio station CBUT and his wife Kathleen, proprietor of Kay’s Fabrics. John Whelan, a waiter at the Drake Hotel beer parlour was in Number 4, and Marion Watmough, a bookkeeper with BC Equipment at Number 11. There were several other retired and widowed tenants, Constance Lobeck who operated the elevator at the Hotel Vancouver and George Luchuk, director of the Arcade Whist Club.

The entire block was redeveloped in 1999 with a Chinese backed pair of condos, designed by IBI, called ‘The Lions’. On the part of the site where the Majestic stood, the project includes a small commercial component, with recessed retail stores along West Georgia.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 2010-006.022

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Stuart Building – Chilco and West Georgia Street

The Stuart Building, seen here in 1973, was a retail and apartment block that was completed in 1910. It was designed by Henry B Watson for lumberman W W Stuart, and sat near the entrance to Stanley Park. There were buildings on the north side of the street in those days, so some views of Burrard Inlet were interrupted, but the building ran along Chilco, with clear views of the park.

Whitfield Walker Stuart was born in New Brunswick, but started making money in Massachusetts. He was living in Boston in 1886, in his mid 20s, working as a carpenter. He married a local woman that year, and they had two children before he moved west around 1891, initially to New Westminster and then to Dewdney, where Mr. Stuart worked as a farmer, and they had a third child. He first showed up in Vancouver in 1898, living on Barnard (now Union) and having returned to working as a carpenter. He moved around the same area, to Keefer, and then Heatley, before moving to the West End. In 1904 he spent a remarkably low $300 building a store and house at this location.

Only four years later he moved to Robson Street, and the house and store were demolished, and the building in the picture was erected at a stated cost of $13,000. No doubt this reflects a much lower value than if Mr. Stuart hadn’t been a contractor with his own supply of lumber. By 1907 his electric powered mill was in operation on Front Street (now 1st Avenue, in Mount Pleasant). In 1908 it was reported that “The W. W. Stuart Lumber Company of Vancouver report that they have been running steadily at full capacity all winter, their output being used chiefly for local trade. They have recently put up a new moulding shed and office buildings”. His wife died in 1916, and two years later he remarried, to an Australian, and they had two children (the first born in Australia in the same year that they were married). They moved to Kerrisdale, and Whitfield Stuart died in 1927, and was buried with his first wife in Mountain View cemetery.

The Stuart building became home to an early bicycle hire business, and later an art gallery, but by 1982 there were plans to demolish it. The Vancouver Sun reported “The Stuart Building, a three-storey apartment block with a turret lookout on top, a stained glass panel over the front door and a seven-foot-wide staircase, was built in 1909 for lumberman W.W. Stuart. At the time, it overlooked a Lost Lagoon that was still tidewater. The first park causeway was built 14 years later. Edith Clark has operated the Gallery of B.C. Arts on the ground floor of the Stuart Building for the past 20 years. On Tuesday, they’re pulling down the building that has stood as a landmark at the entrance to Stanley Park since 1909. She is furious. But she is still praying that a miracle will save the building she and her husband, Herbert, have grown to love. Clark is one of 2,500 West End residents who want to preserve the turret-ted frame building at 674 Chilco at Georgia Street. Seven city aldermen voted Tuesday to tear it down.

Clark is furious that seven council members could cancel out the wishes of thousands of people who cherish the landmark across from Lost Lagoon. She still has not given up hope of saving it from the wrecker’s ball. “I can’t abandon hope for this building. I have about 2,500 signatures on a petition to save it,” Clark said Friday as she and Herbert loaded the last of the gallery’s paintings and pottery into a moving van. “We love this building. We’ve had 20 years here with many good times. Mayor Mike Harcourt was good to consider trying to save it and for a while it looked so hopeful,” she said. Clark said she cannot understand why, when building owner Stanley Ho of Hong Kong agreed to cooperate in preserving the building, seven council members can order it destroyed. “Maybe we can hold them off a little longer, stall until the next election and get a few of those aldermen off city council.” Upstairs in suite three, pensioner Rita Pinder prepared to move from the three- bedroom unit she rented for $220 a month into a tiny West End suite that will cost $380 a month. “It’s hard to decide what to give up. This place has been so spacious and so gracious,” said Pinder who lived for 13 years in one of the eight apartments.”

The building that replaced the Stuart is a strange one. For many years standing alone, it was developed by Hong Kong based billionaire and Macau gambling mogul Stanley Ho, who acquired the lot in 1974 for $275,000. He owned property throughout the city, including the Sutton Place Hotel, and according to a Vancouver Sun article Ho offered to upgrade the building and give the city a 30-year lease in exchange for zoning incentives on another property, but a majority on Council instead approved redevelopment. There are now three huge apartments and a wedding chapel in the 5 storey replacement building, designed by Ernest Collins, and completed in 1995.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives  CVA 447-85

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Posted July 22, 2019 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Stanley and New Fountain Hotels – West Cordova Street

This pair of long-standing Downtown Eastside Hotels have been closed for a while, and the structure behind the facades is in process of being demolished. They’re soon getting a new ten storey building that will replace the 103 welfare rate rooms and shelter beds that were in the old hotels with 80 new self-contained units (that will still lease at welfare rates) and an additional 62 market rental units.

Looking more closely at this 1940 Vancouver Public Library image it’s possible to see that there seems to be a third building sandwiched between the Stanley, and the two storey New Fountain. That seems not really the case – or at least, the permits we can find suggest a slightly different history. The New Fountain, (the shorter building on the left of the picture), was (supposedly) built in 1899, and there were two hotels built to the east of that completed in 1907, with The Russ Hotel occupying the middle three lots and the Hotel Iroquois run by Samuel Albert on the two lots closest to us.

Both buildings were probably built as part of the investment portfolio of Evans, Coleman and Evans, merchants and shipping agents, considered for many years to be one of the leading commercial firms in the province. They hired Grant and Henderson to design the Russ and Iroquois building in 1906, and the hotels opened in 1907. In the Contract record they were described as ‘white pressed brick with cut stone trimmings’.

There were buildings here rebuilt immediately after the 1886 fire. These were initially wooden, almost all built within a few weeks of the fire and then gradually redeveloped with brick and stone fronted replacements over the next few years. We saw what the street looked like in 1888 in an earlier post. By 1889 in this location there were 2-storey buildings with a saloon, an undertakers that also operated a furniture manufacturing business, a grocers, clothing store and bookstore, all with offices and lodgings above. Only three years after the fire, several had already been rebuilt with brick facades. In 1891 the saloon was called the Grotto Beer Hall, run by Swan and Kapplet, numbered as 35 Cordova. A year later it was renumbered as 27, and Edward Schwan had taken over. He was still running the hotel in 1894, but it had been renamed the New Fountain Hotel. The Old Fountain Saloon was two doors down, and that situation continued for a few years. (Some directories listed him as Edward Schwahn, and others as Schwann). He also applied for the licence of the Cabinet Hotel in 1896. The 1901 census called him Schwan, and tells us he was from Germany, and aged 41. His wife Bertha was 33, and also German, and they had arrived in Canada in 1888, where five of their children had been born. Frank, who was the oldest, had been born in the US, so presumably the family had moved north.

There are several confusing aspects of the hotel’s history that we haven’t straightened out. The heritage statement says it was built in 1899, but the name goes back to 1894, and Edward Schwan ran it from 1890 (when he renamed it the Grotto) until at least 1902, and he was replaced by Charles Schwahn by 1905, although the street directory still linked him to the establishment. If the building was completed in 1899, it replaced an earlier building with an identical name, and the same proprietor, (which is perfectly possible).

A second confusion comes from the 1901 and 1903 insurance maps, which call it the Mountain Hotel. We’re pretty certain that’s just an error; there was a Mountain View Hotel – but that was on East Cordova. We think that the hotel operation was run by Mr. Schwan, but the building was owned by Evans, Coleman and Evans. They carried out work on the storefronts in 1902, and then commissioned $13,000 of major alterations in 1909, designed by Parr and Fee. In 1901 only half the building (at least on the main floor) was used as a hotel, while to the west were three store fronts for a drugstore, liquor store and a jewelers.

Evans, Coleman and Evans were three Englishmen, brothers Percy and Ernest Evans, and their cousin, George Coleman. They arrived in 1888, and built up a business empire that included a cement plant, wharves, timber and coal import and export yards and a building supply business. They were often the successful supplier of cast iron pipe to the City of Vancouver as the expanded the sewers and water mains. In 1910 they sold the business to a group of prominent business people including William Farrell and Frank Barnard, although they may have retained their interest in the hotels, which also included the Manitoba, also on Cordova.

There were two earlier hotels among the buildings that were demolished and replaced by the Russ and the Iroquois in 1906. The Elite Hotel was closest to us, and the Hotel Norden, run by Peter Larsen, was in the middle.

In 1911 the Stanley name replaced the Hotel Iroquois – (which was also the name of one of the steamships that often docked at Evans, Coleman and Evans docks). Next door was a branch of the Royal Bank of Canada, and then the Russ Hotel, and Al’s Russ Café. Wo Hing’s tailor store and George Graff’s Fountain Cigar Store had storefronts before the Fountain Hotel entrance, and Harry’s Café. A year later the Russ Hotel had disappeared, and the Stanley Hotel’s rooms included both properties.

Property developer and agent William Holden may have had an interest in the Iroquois Hotel, as in 1911 there was a permit to him hiring architect H B Watson to carry out $4,000 of alterations to the hotel, presumably preparing for it to reopen as the Stanley. Watson had his offices in the Holden Building on East Hastings. Holden also paid for some more work on 35 W Cordova a year later. The Building Record newspaper described the work to remodel the Hotel Iroquois to be even more extensive, costing $8,000. Evans Coleman and Evans, who commissioned the building, had further work carried out on the premises by Thomas Hunter in 1917.

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Mah Society – 137 East Pender Street

This Chinatown society building is one of the best-preserved, and now   looking even better after a recent makeover. The work included restoring the elaborate pediment, and the top floor balcony that had been lost many years before 1985, when our ‘before’ picture was shot. The building was constructed in 1913, and while it was located in Chinatown, it was developed by William Dick, (possibly William Dick junior, who ran a successful clothing company, owned British Columbia Estates, a local real estate development company, and later was a Conservative Member of the BC Legislature for Vancouver City, elected in 1928). He hired H B Watson to design the $30,000 apartment rooms, with a commercial space on the main floor, built by R G Wilson & Son. When it was first built this was a four storey building, and if you ignore the top floor, it looks like many other buildings of the era, and had no discernible ‘Chinese’ character.

Because it was located in Chinatown, the first tenant was Chinese. Mr. Dick spent another $400 in ‘repairs’ (but probably really the fitting out of the commercial space) built by the Kwong Fong Co only six months after the initial building permit. Kwong Yee Lung Company, a grocer, occupied the main floor while the upper floors were the Ming Lee Rooms. with thirty nine rooms on the other three floors where tenants shared bathrooms and kitchens. There were various changes to the building, including a 1917 alteration designed and carried out by W H Chow.

In 1921 the Mah Family Society raised $45,000 to buy the building, and a further $5,650 was spent to add the fifth floor (although the permit was for $7,000). This was built by Chen Yi, but the Mah Gim Do Hung hired English born architect E J Boughen to design the addition. The Society, one of a number of branches across Canada and in the US, moved their offices out of the building before 1960, and today the Mah Benevolent Society Of Vancouver occupy premises on East Hastings. The upper floors still have 36 SRO rooms which in the image were the Ah Chew Rooms and more recently have been known as the Asia Hotel. The fifth floor still houses the society meeting hall. The main floor in the picture was the Kwangtung Restaurant, later becoming a Buddhist vegetarian restaurant, and today houses the Jade Dynasty, one of Chinatown’s remaining Cantonese dim sum restaurants.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-2382

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Posted November 22, 2018 by ChangingCity in Chinatown, Still Standing

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Florence Court – West Georgia and Bute

 

Today it’s called the Banff, one of the very few remaining hundred year old apartment buildings in Coal Harbour. Built in 1909 at a cost of $58,000 by Dissette & Dean it was designed by H B Watson for J D Byrne. At the end of the year an extra $17,000 addition was permitted – it’s not clear what that would have consisted of – it could have been an additional floor as construction could have continued uninterrupted. In 1920 J W Byrne carried out $500 of repairs to the building.

In 1909 James D Byrne was living in a suite on Granville Street, working as a real estate broker with an office in the Dominion Trust Building. In 1911 he was shown as Irish, aged 53, living with his English wife Florence, (hence the name of the building) and a nurse, Helena Davis, who was Welsh. James had arrived in Canada in 1889, and shows up a lot in 1890s newspapers as he was an Assessor and Collector in the Court House, where he was often the Official Administrator of a deceased resident, a post he resigned in 1899.

He came from a distinguished family; born in County Wicklow. His father represented Count Wexford in the ‘Imperial Parliament’. He attended school in England, and on arrival in Vancouver was partner with C D Rand in his real estate business for five years. He was also  described as being ‘connected with’ the real estate department of Mahon, McFarland & Proctor for many years. His wife was the daughter of the owner of a Yorkshire woolen mill, and the couple moved to Mr. Byrne’s investment when it was completed. He was an active member of the Catholic church, and a Knight of St Columbus. He was the first President of the city’s Children’s Aid Society, a Catholic foundation, although it appears that the couple had no children.

In 1915 he was elected as an alderman – although the City’s website inaccurately records him as James D Byne. One odd item of knowledge we have about Mr. Byrne is that he seems to have enjoyed reading mystery stories – a copy of an 1888 book by John Charles Dent, ‘The Gerrard Street Mystery and Other Weird Tales’, is currently for sale for $500, bearing his signature.

The nurse in the household in 1911 suggested that perhaps Florence was ill; however, when she died in 1919 the newspaper suggested she had moved to Los Angeles for the health of her husband, only two months earlier. Florence was returned to Vancouver for her funeral, and in the 1921 census (when he was apparently recorded as James D Burne) James was listed as a widower. He was shown as having been born in Scotland, which is quite at odds with his biographic notes published a few years earlier. His last appearance in the street directory was in 1929, still listed at apartment 3 of his building. He may have maintained a Los Angeles residence; a James D Byrne died on 27 December 1929 in Los Angeles.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA M-11-58

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Posted June 7, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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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

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

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100 block East Pender Street – north side

100 block E Pender 3

Almost 80 years separate these images; the original identifies as a parade on Pender Street taken between 1936 and 1938, and the contemporary picture taken at this year’s Chinese New Year parade. As we’ve noted with so many Chinatown images, the important buildings have remained almost unchanged. Obviously the parade has changed – these days the cars are cleared from the street, and there generally aren’t any horses on parade (but this parade was advertising a Chinese historical production concerning the land west of Eastern Turkestan). The greatest difference in this set of four buildings is the Lee Building, to the west (the left of the picture) which was rebuilt following a fire and so today has open balconies rather than the closed stucco of the original building. (That stucco seems to have been added to a second bay of the building after 1925, as the Frank Gowan postcard we looked at before on the blog shows).

The narrower building to the east of the Lee Building was designed in 1923 by A E Henderson for Lung Kong Kung Shaw, replacing one designed by W H Chow in 1914. In this picture Kwong Yee Lung Co have their store name prominently displayed; they were at this location for several decades and dealt in Chinese herbs. It seems likely that Henderson’s client was a variant on the company name, as they hired contractor C Duck to make alterations to the previous building in 1920, and were still occupying this location in the mid 1950s.

Next door is a 5-storey 1913 building designed by H B Watson for William Dick at a cost of $30,000. Originally four floors high with the Kwong Fong grocery on the ground floor, the Mah Society acquired the building in 1920 and added a fifth floor in 1921 designed by E J Boughen. William Dick was a clothing company mogul; we’ve seen one of his properties on West Hastings. We assume this building was purely built as an investment, just like the houses he built a few blocks away. In 1917 W H Chow made some changes to the building for Yam Young.

The final building in this group was once known as Ming’s Restaurant, with extravagant neon announcing the business. the Good Luck Cabaret also operated in the building – a use that continues today as the Fortune Sound Club. In 1913 Yee Lee owned a property here, and Toy Get carried out some alterations for him. In 1919 Mrs Smith was the owner, and builder R P Forshaw carried out further alterations. The current building was designed in 1920 and built a year later by W H Chow (with W T Whiteway helping out to get the necessary permits, as in 1921 Chow was refused admission to the newly-incorporated Architectural Institute of BC, despite his extensive experience). The description of the building’s history notes that “The original facade decoration was classical, with pilasters, capitals, and a deep cornice. This was made more ‘Chinese’ in 1977, with the addition of Chinese (and English) characters on the frieze, and decorative panels and balcony railings.” There were Chinese characters on the front of the building in the 1930s through to the early 1970s, but in the 1930s there was also the English words ‘International Chop Suey’. That restaurant pre-dated Ming’s Restaurant, and was here throughout the 1920s and 30s. Ming’s was operated by Hong Wong, and advertised ‘authentic Chinese dishes at moderate prices’ and attracted both Chinese and non-Chinese diners, with many wedding banquets  being held here.

Image Source CVA 300-101

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