Archive for the ‘Hooper and Watkins’ Tag

Abbott Mansions – West Hastings and Abbott se

Abbott & Hastings

This solid-looking structure dates back to 1909, and was designed by Hooper and Watkins for Song Mong Lin Co, (a company owned by Mong Wing, a Chinese housewife). It was altered in 1941, when Townley and Matheson refitted it for the Imperial Bank of Canada; Fred Townley had initially designed alterations for the bank here in 1919. These days the 5-storey structure has 70 SRO rooms, but it started life as an office building known as the Loo Building. Mong Wing was married to a very successful Chinese merchant Loo Gee Wing, so her development of the building was almost certainly at his behest. We’ve written a great deal about Loo Gee Wing elsewhere; as far as we can tell he started his business life in San Francisco, moved on to Victoria (where he was said to be the second wealthiest private landowner after the Hudson Bay Company) and then to Vancouver, where he developed extensive business interests including a number of properties.

We think he moved to Vancouver not long before this building was completed: he was still living in Victoria in 1907. This building cost $80,000 to build; the contractors, the National Construction Company, got into financial difficulties, and their subcontractors, Coughlin Brothers, went after the owners to get the $1,700 they were owed. When they tried to get payment, they discovered that the property had changed hands, and Loo Gee Wing was now the owner, and he argued the builders lien didn’t apply to him. The judge in the case was not sympathetic to this view: “The facts are that the defendant Mong Lin, wife of Leo Gee Wing, was the registered owner of the property at the time the contract was entered into by her with the codefendant, and she so continues to the present time. I strongly suspect that the transfer of the property to her husband was a piece of Oriental jugglery perpetuated in order to embarrass lien holders.”

When it opened, the Loo Building had dozens of companies taking space: it’s not a big building, so they must have each occupied modest offices. As well as a number of real estate companies were the Canadian Freight Association, several physicians including Dr Dyer, the Vancouver Fiber Co, the Beaver Realty Co and W A Cumyow, the city’s most important Chinese interpreter. Up on the third floor were a chiropodist and a Corsetiere, an optician and an osteopath alongside timber agents and land agents. On the fourth were building contractors Hemphill Bros, the Hardman Hat Co and the Vancouver Financial Corp Ltd along with the Union Express, City Express and Diamond Express. Apart from W A Cumyow they appear to be Anglo businesses in a Chinese-owned office building.

By 1920 the building had become exclusively residential. It had been acquired by the London, British & North America Co, who hired W J Northcott to make alterations. An advertisement in the Daily World announced the change, offering two-room suites, disappearing beds and well furnished modern conveniences for housekeeping; “elevator, respectable, reasonable rates”. It attracted some important people in the city; Basil Pantages, manager of the Pantages theatre lived here; Dr Martin Kroeger, managing director of Vancouver X-Ray Institute lived on the third floor; George S Sellers of the Cedar Cottage Painting Co on the second floor.

By 1935, when Wilfred Minto was managing the premises they were known as Abbott Mansions. Just selecting the surnames starting with the first two letters of the alphabet we find James and Harry Almas of the Almas Coal and Refrigerated Fruit Stand lived here; (a unique and unexpected mixture), P J Beaudreault, a carpenter and his wife Deliah, Jake Biket, a waiter and his wife Viola, Alfred Brett, a trucker with the CNR and his wife Kathleen, R J Brooks, an assembler with the Ford Motor Co and Elsie and Mark Butcher – Elsie was a stenographer. Somebody listed as Aug Dandruff lived here too – sadly, we don’t know if they were a hairdresser. F Glen Mitchell lived here with his wife; he was manager of the Piggly Wiggly on Denman Street. There were two waitresses living here, one from the New Good Eats Cafe, and one from the Cairo Cafe. Dr. Henry Powell had his consulting rooms in the building on Abbott Street.

In 1955, the last year we have a street directory for, the Mansions were owned by the Yorkshire Corporation. There were still plenty of working people living here: a glove cutter; Anne Bowes who was cashier at the Pall Mall Café; a fireman; William Cooper, a tailor; a candy packer for Nabob Foods and Magda Curie, a waitress at Eatons. Unlike in earlier years quite a few residents were retired; several of the residents were widows.

By the early 90s the residents were poorer; the building more run-down. Many residents had health problems. Now run by the Central City Foundation, it offers 70 rooms to Downtown Eastside residents in one of the better-run SRO buildings.

Image Source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1399-37


165 Water Street

165 Water St

More of Water Street’s commercial buildings survive relatively unchanged than most other streets in the city. This is the Pither and Leiser warehouse, built in 1905 and completed in 1906 by E Cook for a Victoria-based import company. It cost $10,000 to build, and was described as “three full storeys, deep basement; large plate glass front windows and wide entrance; Fensom electric freight elevator; first storey bonded warehouse, top storey for sundry duty-paid goods”.

There were three Leiser brothers in Victoria: like the Oppenheimers in Vancouver they were born in Germany (in Kerpen near Cologne) into a Jewish family, and like the Oppeheimers they succeeded in trade, operating grocery import companies and making their fortune supplying the gold miners, initially in the Cassiar, in Yale, and later the Klondike. All three were Freemasons, as well. One of the brothers, Simon, had the largest wholesale grocery in British Columbia in 1890, and his daughter married an Oppenheimer in Vancouver. Another brother, Gustav, was a partner in the wholesale dry goods firm of Lenz and Leiser in Victoria. The third, Max Leiser imported and wholesaled wine and liquor, and also cigars. The company warehouse in Victoria was on Wharf Street and Max later developed other property in Victoria including the Kaiserhof Hotel on Blanchard Street designed by Thomas Hooper.

Pither and Leiser’s business dated back to 1858, when an alcohol and cigar import firm was established by A Casamayou. By 1888 it was known as Boucherat & Co, owned by John Coigdarripe (a Frenchman) and Luke Pither (from New York). Max Leiser bought his partnership in 1893, when the name was changed. They were importers of Mumm champagne, Gordon’s gin and Johnnie Walker and Whyte & McKay whiskies.

In 1912 George Joy was manager of the Vancouver branch, originally designed in 1905 by Hooper and Watkins. (The company had initially set up shop in the city in 1900). However, if the directories are to believed the business had just moved next door, to the west, into a newly completed building. Oscar Brown, a fruit wholesaler moved into this building and made some changes. It looks as if the design used the centre pivoted windows generally associated with Parr and Fee buildings, so they might be the designers. Pither and Leiser stayed in business through to 1921, despite prohibition in British Columbia from 1917 to 1921. (In Victoria it’s suggested that the company’s alcohol ‘sales’ rose significantly during the period of US prohibition).

pither & leiser Sept-09-1917The next occupants of the building were Oscar Brown, effectively switching places with Pither and Leiser. They were followed in 1922 by Clarks’ Fruit and Produce – seen here in 1924, and still occupying the building in 1940. They had been on the block since 1918, initially next door, then two doors down. In 1950 there was a dry goods wholesalers and a clothing manufacturing company in the building. For more than 30 years, with the transformation of Gastown into a more vibrant retail street, it is the Vancouver store of Hill’s Native Art.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N54


Granville Street – 500 block west side (2)

500 block Granville w side 2

Here’s the southern half of the 500 block of Granville Street. The picture was taken in 1981 from half-way up the block looking south to Dunsmuir, and really very little change had occurred since this 1905 VPL image.

500 block Granville 1905 VPLThe building on the right, closest to the photographer was the Inglis Reid building, originally designed by G W Grant for builder/investor Bedford Davidson in 1902 for $8,000. It was substantially rebuilt at a cost of $22,000 in 1922. The smaller building to the south was known as the Anderson block. The biggest building on this end of the block was the four-storey Gordon Drysdale block, built for his dry goods business in 1907 and designed by Hooper and Watkins with an addition in 1912 by S B Birds. Like many of our successful businessmen and developers, the Drysdale family lived in the West End at 825 Broughton. Gordon and his wife Maria, and both their older children were born in Nova Scotia (George in 1888 and Janet in 1892), but their youngest son, Norman, was born in BC in 1895.

Dunsmuir and Granville north 1981 CVA 779-W01.34The smaller building to the south was another designed by G W Grant for Bedford Davidson in 1903, at a cost of $10,000. The one building that has changed is the corner block; originally also a Grant design for Dr S J Tunstall, it was replaced in 1960 with a smaller 2-storey structure (seen better in this companion 1981 image)

Today the Pacific Centre’s north building occupies this entire part of the block, completed in 1990 and designed by Zeidler Roberts Partnership. In 2007 the Holt Renfrew store at the southern end of the block was redesigned by New York designers Janson Goldstein who had local glass studio Nathan Allan Glass Studios create a unique ‘slumped’ glass facade with convex panels of individual quilted glass pillows.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W01.35, Vancouver Public Library and CVA 779-W01.34


Posted 10 February 2014 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Granville Street – 500 block west side (1)

500 block Granville w side 3We’ve seen all of these buildings in earlier posts. Today the extension of the Pacific Centre Mall has swallowed up the earlier buildings on the block, which we also saw looking south, up Granville Street. The Bower Building and closer to the camera, the Leigh-Spencer Building were both replaced by a new Bower Building in 1995. To the north, on the corner of the lane, the original Grand Trunk Pacific offices were replaced by Ingledews shoe store in 1980. And closest to the camera is 559 Granville, the BC Lease Holders Building with a 1930 facade on a 1902 building. Now just the facade remains, hoisted higher onto the wall and missing its storefront.

Our 1981 image shows that the Pender Place towers, designed by Underwood, McKinley Wilson & Smith had been standing at the end of the block since the early 1970s.

Image source: City of Vancouver archives CVA 779-W01.36


Bower Building – Granville Street

500 block Granville 1

George E Bower was born in Ontario, as was his wife Julia. He first appears in the 1892 Street Directory, as a salesman for Mr Winch. R V Winch was a fruit and fish merchant on Cordova, with a house on Oppenheimer. He and Mr Bower were both said to be from Cobourg, Ontario, and R V Winch had a sister, Julia, who married George. In 1894 George Bower was a partner in the Cordova store, and a home on a different block of Oppenheimer. In 1901 the Bower family of five were living on Barclay Street with their servant Sarrah Longcake.

In 1911 the family had moved to Point Grey Road in a house built at a cost of $15,000 the year before, with their daughter Kathleen (who was aged 22 and had been awarded an MA degree), their 19-year-old son George and younger daughter Edith (aged 13). There was also a domestic servant, Kwong, aged 30. George was aged 53 and listed as retired. In 1909 George had commissioned Hooper and Watkins to design an 8-storey steel frame office building on Granville Street costing $145,000. George may have been retired, but he continued to make alterations to buildings he owned on Granville Street past 1920, and continued to live in his Point Grey home until 1935.

Our VPL image shows the Bower Building – the tall building with the square windows closer to the camera, in 1941. Today there’s another office building on the site, still called the Bower Building but now 17 storeys, designed by Eng + Wright in 1995.


Posted 16 September 2013 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Odd Fellows Hall – West Pender Street

Wrigley's Directories 1931

In 1931, when this picture was taken, this was the home of Wrigley’s Directories, a company we rely on for their careful recording and cross referencing of every resident and address in the city. But as the sign between the first and second floors shows, this started life as the ‘Odd-fellows Hall’ (as their literature of the day called them), designed by Hooper and Watkins in 1906. The fraternal order in Vancouver (or more accurately Granville) dates back to 1871, and Western Star Lodge #10 was initiated in May 1889, and their new building was completed in 1906. It’s a simple but massive Richardson Romanesque building, and it’s still with us today in remarkably unspoilt condition (apart from the lost cornice).

Not long after completion the main floor was leased as the Lyric Theatre, while the Odd Fellows retained the upper floor, accessed from Hamilton Street. Richly furnished and decorated, the Lyric Theatre is said to have “operated in accordance with the most modern developments in theatre construction of the time”, with proprietor and manager George B. Howard and his stock company presenting high class comedies and dramas for the city’s entertainment. That didn’t last long. By 1912 the Lyric name was associated with a movie house on Cordova Street and Howard went on to run the Avenue Theatre on Main Street. The Lyric name was revived much later on a theatre on Granville Street that replaced the Opera House. The main floor in 1912 was associated with the National Finance Co, who advertised their involvement in ‘Timber Limits, Real Estate, Stocks, Bonds & Debentures’.

Tenants changed again by 1920 when Waghorn Gwynne & Co, Finance and Insurance Agents were on the main floor. In 1925 the Board of Trade had taken over occupancy of the Main Floor, and they were still here in 1930, although in 1931 (according to the Wrigley’s directory) it was vacant and by 1932 Wrigley Directories Ltd had moved in. Throughout this time the Odd Fellows Hall was on the upper floor.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4107


Paris Block – 53 West Hastings Street

In 1907 Hooper and Watkins designed the Eastern Building on West Hastings Street, although there seems to have been a 1908 permit as well.  Although the Statement of Significance on the building says it was initially an apartment building, the 1908 and 1909 Street Directories shows a fur company, replaced a year later by a real estate company on the second floor, along with the Northern Club, and W A Clark, another real estate broker on the third floor. John F Deeks developed the building, but in 1909 Burton & Jackson, props. of the Strathcona Hotel carried out the conversion to a hotel (although Mr Deeks owned the building until at least 1917).

John and his wife Minnie had been in the city since at least the turn of the century; both coming originally from Ontario (John was born in Morrisburg, and was photographed as a competitive cyclist in the Toronto Wanderers team in 1893). John’s father, George, had been born in England but his mother was also from Ontario. John was born in 1868, 1869 or 1870, depending on which census you look at. The Deeks seem to have had at least two children, Marion, born in 1903 and George who died very soon after his birth in 1905. John was a successful hydraulic miner, finding gold at Pine Creek in Atlin in the early years of the century and selling out to the North Columbia Gold Mining Company in 1904.

In 1909 R T Perry designed $15,000 of alterations to the building for Mr Deeks (a substantial sum in those days, suggesting significant changes to the building). With these changes, by 1910 it had become the Strathcona Hotel, while a shoe store (initially Starks, and later McKeen’s) had the ground floor. Pierre Paris moved into the main floor in 1919, offering “Corrective Footwear Made to Measure” along with high grade shoe repairing. In 1913 W D Woods, obtained a permit to carry out repairs to the hotel. (As Mr Deeks still owned the hotel in 1917, Mr Woods may have been an agent, or possibly another operator of the hotel). It stayed as a hotel for many years; the Paris company closed down in the 1970s (soon after our 1978 image was taken) – although family members are still in the orthotics business elsewhere in the city. John Deeks died in 1935 and Minnie in 1937.

Next door the Miller Block was built-in 1947, and part of the seismic support for the heritage building includes the adjacent new Annex building by Gair Williamson, also by Salient.

As our image here shows, by the early 21st Century the building was in poor condition. Although in theory a Single Room Occupancy Hotel, in practice nobody had lived in the building since 1974. After two other owners, and several false hopes for refurbishment, a permit was issued in 2006 to allow a comprehensive  renovation of the building by Gair Williamson for Salient Developments, completed in 2008. The Acme Cafe moved in downstairs and 29 condo units were created on the upper floors.