Archive for the ‘Hodgson and Simmons’ Tag

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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