Archive for the ‘H B Watson’ Tag

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

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

Lee Building – East Pender Street

100 blk E Pender

Here’s a 1925 postcard by Frank Gowan of the north side of the 100 block of Pender Street. Many of the buildings are still the same today, although one has been effectively rebuilt (although you would hardly notice at first glance).

The Lee Building is in the centre of the image; the central arcaded ‘Chinese style’ building. It was built in 1907 or 1908 by the Lee Lung Sai Business Company, although there’s no record of who designed it. This was a ‘family association’, but seems to have been purely a money-making venture rather than a family support building. It was one of the earliest Chinatown family buildings, and all the money raised to build the structure was provided by people with the name Lee. While many of the Chinese family buildings had accommodation and a hall for meetings, the Lee building only held a small office for the organisation’s own use, with the rest of the space leased out.

Around 1920 the building was sold to Lee Bick, (Ron Bick Lee) and his family still owned the property in 1971 when all the buildings in the picture were recognised with heritage status as part of the area’s historic area designation. The building was occupied over the years by a number of importers, retail merchants, restaurants, and clan associations. Lee arrived in Victoria at the age of 18 in 1910, working at a local restaurant in Victoria’s Chinatown.  He moved to Vancouver in 1916, working in various restaurants, hotels and import stores. Lee opened the Foo Hung Company in the Lee Building in 1921 and the import-export business went so well that he expanded into the greenhouse business, operating the Grandview Greenhouse on 50 acres in East Vancouver during the Depression. Lee was actively involved in the community through different associations, including the Chinese Public School, the Lee Association, Chinatown Lion’s Club and the Toi San Benevolent Society.

A year after the heritage designation the Lee Building was almost completely destroyed in a fire, and Robert Lee decided to rebuild. The city’s Historic Area Advisory Board initially advocated reconstruction but then, because of building code constraints, accepted the restoration of the facade as a free-standing frame and the construction of a new building behind it, which was completed in 1973 to designs by Henriquez and Todd. Today the facade has a modern building behind it (set back so that it resembles the balconies of the original structure), an open courtyard fronting the third bay of the building on the west side, with parking space off the rear lane.

The arcaded building to the west of the Lee Building is the 1921 Wong’s Benevolent Association building. There was a 2-storey building here in 1910 (and some reports suggest 1904), but in 1921 two more floors were added, designed by J A Radford, (G A Southall and W H Chow are both also associated with the rebuilt design). From the mid 1920s the Mon Keang School was in the building, providing language lessons to the Canadian-born children of the Chinese community.

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. Closer still is the 5-storey 1913 building designed by H B Watson for William Dick. 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.

Shaldon Hotel – 52 East Hastings Street (2)

Windsor Hotel 52 E Hastings 1931

We’ve seen the Shaldon Hotel before, and here’s a slightly earlier image from 1931 when it was known as the Windsor Hotel. As seems to be the case for a number of the city’s hotels, the same name has appeared on more than one building over the years – there was another Windsor Hotel on Granville Street, and an earlier building with the same name on Water Street in the 1890s.

In 1931 the hotel was owned by L S Barrack  who seems to have recently acquired it from Sam Plastino, an Italian who had been born in Italy in 1886 and was married to a Scottish born wife. Whether he was related to the Sam Plastino accused (unsuccessfully) of being a white slaver in Spokane twenty years earlier isn’t clear. That Sam Plastino was a former Northwest pool playing champion turned real estate agent who was fined and then jailed for bootlegging in 1917.

Photo source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-3884

Posted December 15, 2012 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Shaldon Hotel – 52 East Hastings Street (1)

The Shaldon Hotel seems to have started life with expectations that it would be called the Empress Hotel in 1908. The tall, narrow building a bit further west that is still called the Empress was initially the New Empress Hotel, and not built until 1913, and the Empres was next door, and built in 1909. Whether the Empress name was ever used here is unclear, but it seems unlikely, although that’s what it was called in Contract Record in 1908. When it was finished in 1909 it was called the Wright Building and the Grand Central Rooms. It was named after its owner, H D Wright of Seattle, and was designed by H B Watson.

Over the years it became the St James Hotel, the Wilbur Rooms, the Windsor Hotel, and now the Shaldon Hotel. Here it’s shown in 1935. It was bought by BC Housing in 2008, and it has already received a new roof, with further renovations still to come in its continuing role as housing for low income residents.

Posted December 26, 2011 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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