Archive for the ‘H S Griffith’ Tag

The Buchan – 1906 Haro Street

This has to be one of the city’s lesser known hotels. We took the picture when there were no leaves on the trees – taken now the building is almost impossible to see. Built in 1935, and designed by H S Griffith, it still has the name it was given when it was opened. For some reason the current hotel website believe it dates back to 1926, but through to the early 1930s there were three families living in a property owned by the Royal Trust Company. Previously the house had been owned by Major Barwis, who added a garage in 1911. Our Vancouver Public Library image dates back to 1943.

William Bailey Barwis was the manager of the Vancouver office of the Manufacturers’ Life Insurance Company, born in Magantic in Quebec and resident in a house here from 1908 to 1918. In 1936 this address appears for the first time in the street directory as the Buchan Hotel, shown as being managed by Mrs L L McCallum, (although Charles B McCallum is listed as the manager elsewhere in the same directory).

It’s claimed that the hotel was named after novelist and politician, John Buchan. As Baron Tweedsmuir he visited Vancouver twice, in 1936 and 1939, having been appointed Governor General of Canada in 1935, the year the hotel was being built. On his second visit Lord and Lady Tweedsmuir visited the City of Vancouver Archives and met Major Matthews – an event appropriately recorded in a photograph in the Archives today. This is one of the later designs of H S Griffith, who designed dozens of Victoria and Vancouver commercial and residential projects over a period of over 30 years.

Posted August 10, 2017 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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West Georgia Street – 1000 Block

1000 block W Georgia looking east 1

We’re looking east on West Georgia Street: the Archives at this point have an undated image (and unidentified location). The cars, and the changes in the buildings suggest some time in the 1970s. The Royal Centre is complete, so we’re past 1973, Cathedral place hasn’t replace the Medical-Dental Building, so we’re before 1992, and the Burrard Building has it’s original skin, so it’s before 1988. The Ritz Hotel is still standing on the right of the picture, so it’s probably before 1980. By 1985 the Grosvenor Building was completed here. In the distance, behind the TD Tower is the Vancouver Centre – completed in 1976, so that puts us squarely into the mid 1970s.

ritzThe Ritz International may have had the prestigious name, but it wasn’t as classy as the Hotel Georgia or the Hotel Vancouver down the street. The hotel was a conversion of the St Julien Apartments, and that was itself a conversion of the new YMCA which received its building permit in 1913. The permit shows that it was designed by H S Griffith as a 7-storey, reinforced  concrete structure, to be constructed at a cost of an extremely ambitious cost of $375,000.

The 1912 insurance map shows the Y began building that year. The start of World War One, and an economic depression meant that by 1919 the structure was still not complete and it was decided that it should be sold. In 1924 the building was completed as the St. Julien Apartments (seen here around 1925) but those didn’t last very long, and in 1929 was turned into the Ritz Hotel. Not all the apartments were turned into hotel rooms – the property offered both hotel rooms and ‘fully serviced apartments’.

The Ritz stayed as a hotel – it didn’t become a low-income rental property as many further east, and was finally demolished in 1983 to be replaced by the Grosvenor Building, a multi-faceted gold coloured tower that allowed tenants to offer the prestigious ‘corner office’ to more of its employees.

St Julien (Ritz) 1040 W Georgia

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-312 and Vancouver Public Library

Posted May 26, 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1200 block Homer Street (3)

1200 block Homer 1

The warehouse on the right of the shot is the H S Griffith designed building built in 1910 for W R Arnold that we featured in the previous post. Inexplicably, there’s a vacant site in this 1981 image that isn’t the result of a demolition. No building was ever constructed between the 1948 warehouse on the left of the picture (1250 Homer) and the 1910 warehouse/factory.

Today Rafii Architecture’s ‘Alda’ building is here; completed in 2002 with a combination of 59 residential strata units, office space and retail along Homer. It also incorporated the warehouse on the left of the picture, with a completely new façade.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E13.17

Posted July 21, 2014 by ChangingCity in Yaletown

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1200 block Homer Street (2)

1200 block Homer 2

We saw the building on the right of this 1981 picture in the previous post. It was built in 1910 as MacPherson & Teetzel’s hardware warehouse and designed by Parr and Fee.

The more substantial building next door was built in the same year for W R Arnold by Adkinson and Dill for $48,000. It was designed by H S Griffith and described in the permit as a reinforced concrete warehouse. The first tenant was Hamilton Smith’s ‘Smith Biscuit Co’. Mr. Smith lived in the Hotel Europe, on Powell Street, along the street from one of his rivals, the Mooney Biscuit & Candy Co, based in Stratford, Ontario. In 1907 Mooney’s advertisement claimed they were ‘the fastest growing business in the Dominion’, and had added a fleet of their own rail cars to ship their ‘Perfection Cream Soda’ biscuits around the country.

H S Griffith was based in Victoria, having moved from England, and he established his Vancouver office in 1910. This warehouse, and another in Yaletown, were both issued with permits on the same day, and appear to be the first issued to Griffith. William Arnold was, in 1910, the Managing Director of the Dominion Trust Company who had also built a West Pender building through another subsidiary, also designed by H S Griffith, as well as the Dominion Building that they took on when the Imperial Trust ran into financial problems. It isn’t clear whether Mr. Arnold developed this warehouse as a personal project, or on behalf of The Dominion Trust Company. In a later court case (after Mr. Arnold’s death), the judge described him as ‘a man of endless speculations’.

A couple of years after the construction of Dominion Trust’s portfolio of buildings the economy went into a ‘severe financial re-adjustment’ (as it was described at the time). The final straw may have been over-extended company finances on a planned harbour scheme on Lulu Island (that was never built), and the company’s liquidator concluded that Mr. Arnold had advanced a series of unauthorized loans that were very risky. The $5,752,232 of book assets were estimated to actually be worth under a million dollars. W R Arnold shot himself, aged 31, in 1914 in what was initially reported as ‘a bad accident’. An initial court judgement agreed that it was an accidental death, and his insurance company was to pay $100,000 to the Dominion Trust. However, the insurance company won on appeal, and the death officially became a suicide.

In 1912 the Mooney Biscuit & Candy Co acquired the Smith Biscuit Co as part of their Canadian-wide expansion, allowing them to bake their branded biscuits in the west coast market, rather than having to ship them from further east. The First World War may have caused something of a problem for Mooney’s – by 1916 they were in receivership (which may be the reason for the VPL having a photo of their empty ‘melting pots’ from that year). The building was apparently vacant for several years, but in 1919 the Canadian Nut Co were here, and in 1920 they were joined by the Mainland Confectionery Co, managed by Chas. Rimmer.

By 1924 the confectionery company were still here, but the nut company had been replaced by Ogilvie Flour Mills Co. Ltd. The Montreal-based millers retained the location (and soon replaced the confectionery company) for over two decades. (The archives have some great images of their delivery trucks for Royal Household flour at the warehouse). By 1944 they shared the building with a wholesale confectioners, McBride Jackson Ltd, and a commercial artist and printers, R H Storer & Co.

By 1981 when these images were shot, Moore & Middleton occupied the building. The company was a manufacturer of knitting yarns for Cowichan and Icelandic sweaters and North American distributor of knitting yarns, needlepoint, sewing supplies, laces, trims and hobby crafts; it was dissolved in 1985. Today the building has office space on the upper floors and Yaletown’s last billiard hall on the Hamilton Street loading dock side of the building.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E13.16

 

The Gray Block – Homer Street (2)

Gray Block 1925

Here’s another view of the Gray Brothers Building at the corner of Davie and Homer, this time in 1925. It seems that there’s a slight question of attribution for the building. While it’s said that Thomas Hooper designed it in 1912 (and there are drawings in the Archives) it appears that there were companies operating from this address a year or two earlier, and there is a 1910 building permit for this location, but not to Hooper, instead to H S Griffith.

cherry blossomThe building to the south wasn’t developed until 1946. The architects were Townley and Matheson, and their client Walter M Lowney, a US candy company who in Canada were based in Montreal. The company had factories in Boston, Massachusetts, Chicago, Illinois, and Montreal, and were the manufacturers of  ‘Cherry Blossom’ – a maraschino cherry and cherry syrup surrounded by a mixture of chocolate, coconut and roasted peanut pieces. The syrup wasn’t injected – an enzyme slowly turned candy to liquid inside the outer shell.

In 2000 Peter Busby renovated the building as his architectural offices, aiming to create open workspaces with as much natural daylight and natural ventilation as possible; and to push the boundaries of minimizing environmental impacts. Two large openings were cut in the floor slabs to create atriums at the front and centre of the building to create a stack effect and provide natural ventilation. Demolition also took place to connect the once separate office space with the former warehouse space creating large open floor areas. The office is organized around the central atrium, which was sized for optimum levels of natural ventilation and maximum levels of natural day light on all floors. The atrium also provides a visual connection between three levels of workstations. These days Perkins and Will, who absorbed the Busby office in 2004, operate from the building.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu N289

The Gray Block – Homer Street (1)

Gray Block 1206 Homer 1928

There are a number of buildings associated with two brothers who are sometimes referred to as Grey – but whose name was actually Gray. They only arrived in Vancouver in 1906, but they quickly established themselves as investment advisers and developers of some substantial industrial buildings.

Vancouver’s warehouse district until the turn of the 20th Century was along Water Street and near the waterfront. By the early 1900s it was overcrowded and unable to absorb the demand for new larger warehouses, especially with rail access. The Canadian Pacific Railway opened up the wooded area below Homer Street next to their False Creek yards for warehouse development. With rail tracks laid into the streets and loading docks lining the western edge of each block the new area was purpose-built for efficient freight handling. The new warehouse district became known as Yaletown after the early settlement established nearby by the CPR men brought down from the town of Yale in the Fraser Canyon when the railway’s repair shops were moved to the end of the line in Vancouver.

The Gray brothers built several buildings in this newly available area, and here’s one of the bigger warehouse buildings in the area, a 1912 structure generally attributed to Thomas Hooper, but which we think was designed by H S Griffith. (That’s what the building permit says – we think the Hooper building was another Gray Brothers development). The six and seven storey concrete structure had several tenants when it opened – Office Specialty Mfg Co, Barber-Ellis Ltd (who later moved a little further down the road), the United Photographic Stores and Western Cloak and Suit Co. By 1920 Barber-Ellis are still there along with Western Cloak and Suit Co, and the other tenants are Carstens Ltd, wholesale tailors and Crawford Storage, as well as Gray Brothers themselves.

By 1928, when our photograph was taken, (in the middle of US prohibition) Barber-Ellis had been joined by His Masters Voice, Beach Foundry Limited and Joseph Kennedy Ltd, described as brewers and bottlers, whose headquarters were in the building. While bearing the name of the wealthy US industrialist (and father of the future President) the company was actually controlled by the Reifel family. A report of the Royal Commission on Customs and Excise published in the year the photograph was taken stated that the sole business of Joseph Kennedy Ltd was exporting alcohol into the US (and the picture shows that they were not exactly hiding their presence in the building). They were accused of forging US Revenue stamps, and the separate but closely related Kennedy Silk Hat Cocktail Co (whose offices were in the same building) were also accused of smuggling. The Kennedy in question was no relation to the eastern family with political aspirations, but rather Daniel Joseph Kennedy who was probably born in Nebraska, moved to Saskatchewan and eventually moved to Vancouver around 1918. He initially created a series of products that skirted the newly adopted prohibition rules, while maintaining a ‘healthy’ dose of alcohol. Later he marketed pre-mixed cocktails – export (to the US, not necessarily legally) was more important than importing.

Later in its life the building became the home of tea and coffee importers Murchies, who would stay long after many other companies had moved out of the area, until 1996. John Murchie arrived from Scotland in 1894, and initially established his business in New Westminster, but expanded into their new Vancouver premises after the 1950s. Once they moved out of the area to Richmond, Howard Bingham Hill designed the conversion of the upper floors to strata apartments, completed in 1997.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu N288

British Canadian Securities Building – 402 West Pender

These day the building is just known by its address, 402 West Pender, and it’s almost exactly as built a century ago, and as seen in this 1918 image. It was completed in 1912 by British Canadian Securities Limited, a successful land investment company (and a subsidiary of the Dominion Trust Company). It was designed by H S Griffith, an English-born architect whose practice was based in Victoria. It’s a sophisticated Chicago influenced building, with a contemporary structural design and classical details. The base is stone, the top is terra cotta, and in between the walls are brick. It’s a reinforced concrete frame, built by Norton-Griffiths Steel Construction Company at a cost of $299,000.

An investment advertisment in a Montreal Newspaper of 1911

An interesting court case from 1917 offers some insight into how projects like this were funded. BC Securities obtained mortgage financing from the Mutual Life Assurance Company, secured by the building itself. After the completion of the building the Dominion Trust Company became tenants for one year, and at the expiration of the lease, bought the building. They then went bankrupt, and the Insurance Company went after them for the building and the safety deposit boxes in the vault. To cut a long set of arguments short, the judge ruled that the 2,800 boxes installed by BC Securities were part of the building, so the Insurance Company got them. But over 300 boxes installed by Dominion Trust a year or so later, placed on top of the rubber floor (which covered the vault’s steel floor) were the property of Dominion Trust, so the insurance company couldn’t have them. Despite this the building was still called the Dominion Trust Building. Today it continues to offer office space in what is now a heritage building.