Archive for the ‘Hodgson and Simmons’ Tag

79 East Pender Street

This Chinatown Family Association Building is a looking a little worse for wear these days. It started life as a simple two storey Italianate building – similar to many others in the locality, and like Yip Sang’s building nearby, making no explicit architectural reference to its Chinatown location. Approved in 1911, it wasn’t the first building on the site. That was wooden, and constructed very quickly after the 1886 fire. The architects of the replacement 1911 building were Campbell and Dawson. W H Chow, a talented Chinese designer whose ethnicity prevented him from registering as an architect, submitted plans for minor changes in 1915. Lang Kwan was shown owning the building, although there was another permit in 1911 for Wang Ching who operated the store here. Chow Yuen paid for repairs in 1920, and Cheng Suey Chung in 1921.

We can’t find anybody called Lang Kwan in the city in 1911, but we suspect the owner was the businesses located here. The grocery listed here was Kwong Lun Hing, and they had operated at this location before the brick building was constructed. Kwong Lun Hing & Co had a store in San Francisco as early as 1880, another in San Jose in 1886. They imported Chinese foods, but probably had wider trading interests. Kwong Lun Hing Co. in Victoria deposited ten boxes of opium in 1888 with the California Safe Deposit and Trust Co. as security for a loan of $5,500. 

From 1912 to 1915 Kwong Sang and Co, and import merchant operated here, followed in 1916 by Kee Fat (later corrected to Kee Fah) who ran a confectionery store here until the early 1920s. In 1923 Hop Sang Co, grocers and dry goods had taken the store, with Jung Fook Jack as manager.

The building was transformed in 1926 for the Cheng Wing Yeong Tong Society, a family association who hired Hodgson and Simmonds to design the $7,000 of repairs and alterations to add the third storey veranda floor with a recessed balcony, and the decorative pediment. Hop Sang Co continued to occupy the ground floor. In 1940 they had become Hop Sang Lung Kee, but by 1945 that had reverted to Hop Sang, general merchandise. They were here in 1951, before moving to Powell street. The store was empty for a year, and then in 1953 the Ho Inn chop suey house located here, (not to be confused with the Ho Ho). Seen here in 1972, the restaurant was damaged and forced to close in 1987 after a suspected arson fire that started in a van next to a neighbouring building. It was rebuilt in 1991, and was last home to a Chinese furniture import business that moved to Toronto several years ago. The Cheng Wing Yeong Tong Society continue to occupy the upper floors.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-444

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Posted 8 November 2021 by ChangingCity in Chinatown, Still Standing

Tagged with ,

East Pender and Columbia – north west corner

E Pender & Columbia nw

With the attention that Chinatown is receiving at the moment as a few new condo developments replace vacant sites or failed 70s malls and a shuttered casino, no doubt any proposal to redevelop this corner would bring critics out lamenting the loss of another heritage building. Our 1978 (or so) image shows that the red brick structure that’s there today – or at least the exterior – isn’t a heritage building, it’s a rebuild of an older property. Not only that, it shows that in the past Chinatown merchants weren’t nearly as concerned about the Chinese character of Chinatown. The occupants of the building on the corner, C S importers Co Ltd, and the retail store, Trans-Nation Emporium Ltd adopted a distinctly Art Deco Moderne theme to their store decoration, with chrome lettering on a black shiny background and a chrome canopy over the sidewalk. The building dates back to 1904, when Loo Gee Wing, the Chinese merchant who developed throughout Chinatown and beyond, hired Emil Guenther to design the $21,000 building. No doubt Mr Guenther would have been able to identify his building in the 1970s, although the style of decoration might have surprised him. Mr Guenther’s history is apparently hard to confirm due to his name changing and partner hopping, but he was probably German who practiced across the US before settling in Vancouver.

Next door is an almost unchanged Chinatown heritage structure. Well, unchanged since 1926, when the third floor was added. Hodgson and Simmonds designed the recessed balcony addition, a perfect example of a non-Chinese architect interpreting Chinese design for a Chinese client. In fact, Simmonds was Australian. The architectural irony is that the original building was in the Italianate style (designed for a Chinese client). When it was built in 1911 it had two storeys, designed by Campbell and Dawson for Lang Kwan and built by R A McCoullough for $9,500. In 1915 W H Chow was the architect for $400 of alterations to the building for owner Chong Yuen. In the 1920s it became home to the Cheng Wing Yeong Tong Society.

Next door to that is another substantial building (for the time) that had a similar appearance to many of the other commercial buildings built at the turn of the 20th Century in the immediate area. We’re pretty certain the developer was Yip Sang, in 1908, (and the closest in design looks like W T Whiteway’s design for Yip’s Wing Sang Company, on the corner of Carrall Street, and built in 1902). Hing Sing was shown as owner when he obtained permits for $1,000 of alterations in 1909, Lim Duck Chew was listed as an owner in the same year for an address at the western end of the block, Fong Sun was listed as the owner who added partitions in 1910, and Jim Lin in 1916 altered the store front, and also made alterations to the western end of the building in 1917 – but they could all be tenants. It was demolished in the 1990s after a fire, and a new project stalled, and was eventually replaced in 2008 by ‘East’, a Walter Francl designed 6-storey condo building over two retail stores that we saw better in an earlier look at this block looking the other way.

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Dunsmuir and Granville – se corner

Here’s the south-east corner of Granville and Dunsmuir, which today has a restaurant behind the preserved heritage facade of the former BC Electric Showroom. It was designed by Hodgson and Simmons and completed in 1928 for BC Electric who used the building as a showcase for modern domestic electrical appliances. The design is an interesting combination of modern box, with the windows forming the main attraction, but at the same time includes classical details like the ornate bronze window surrounds and the second floor balconies.  Architectura, who became Stantec Architecture, supervised the 2006 restoration.

The photograph on the left shows the same corner in 1927 – so the new building didn’t replace a one-storey retail kiosk, but a substantial building in its own right. The Browning Block, built by J M Browning was designed by G W Grant and completed in 1894. Browning was on City Council in 1890 with David Oppenheimer as Mayor. He was CPR land commissioner, was described as ‘very Scotch’, and built a house in 1888 where the Royal Centre sits today.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P634

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