Archive for the ‘J G Price’ Tag

Swedish Lutheran Church – Princess Street

Some readers will know this as the former St Francis Xavier Church, but that’s not how it started life. In 1910 the Swedish Lutheran Church, whose congregation were in a more modest building a block to the west of here, hired J G Price to design a $30,000 ‘brick veneer’ church on a site that had been acquired for $15,000. It had stained glass windows, oak pews made in Sweden, and could seat over 600 people, and up to 1,000 for special occasions.

This Vancouver Public Library image shows it in 1912, when it had just been rebuilt, but before the Arlington Rooms were built next door. An overheated furnace started a fire in January 1912 that gutted the interior of the church, and saw the roof collapse. The press report stated “In addition to the roof, the pulpit and adjoining parts were burned outright, while the remainder of the building was destroyed by water.” Fortunately the congregation had taken out insurance, and Mr. Price was still around to design the $8,000 rebuild.

The street names here have changed in confusing ways. East Pender was originally Princess, and today’s Princess was Carl Avenue. The church has always had a Princess address, but not on the same street. We had trouble lining up the images because the top of the steeple didn’t match. Then we realized those have been rebuilt, and are slightly shorter today.

It looks as if this building was the first to be built on this lot; the entire block was still vacant in 1903. It may have been owned publicly, as the block to the south of Strathcona School (which is across the street to the south) was also vacant, although the rest of the neighbourhood had been built out.

The church has evolved through many denominations over 109 years; the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church moved out in 1944, and it was subsequently St. Stephen’s Greek Catholic Church until 1968, St. Mary’s Ukrainian Greek Church, St. Francis Xavier Chinese Catholic Church, the Korean Foursquare Church, and now the independent Strathcona Church, owned by The Chin Wei Family Foundation and used by a number of different Christian congregations.


Posted 17 May 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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Chinese Public School – East Pender and Jackson

The Chinese Public School, seen here in 1977, was only the latest use of this early building. From the appearance it’s reasonably obvious that it started life as a church. Looking on the 1912 insurance map, it’s listed as the Baptist Church. However, when it was completed in 1892 it was the Zion Presbyterian Church, with denominations playing musical chairs (or more accurately pews) in a few early years. In 1899 it had become the Zion Baptist Church, with Reverend J G Matthews in charge.

The history of the Presbyterian Church in Vancouver doesn’t mention this building, and it was odd that a congregation should exist so close to the First Presbyterian church which was only three blocks away, and built around 1893. The mystery was solved in a reference to the history of the Presbytery of Seattle. That says that there were 32 churches in the Presbytery of Puget Sound, including Zion Presbyterian Church in Vancouver, British Columbia. So it appears that this was an American arm of the church, founded in the early years of the city. We can find them meeting at first in a commercial building on Main Street, and later in the City Market. The Contract Record said in 1890 “The Zion Presbyterian Church will erect a $10,000 church – Mr. Thos. Hooper, architect for the new Y.M.C.A. building, has been instructed to prepare plans and specifications and call for tenders for the foundations at once.”

The Zion Baptist congregation also got off to a bumpy start. In 1898 the compilers of the street directory seem unsure of which brand of protestant faith to list, and played it safe with ‘church’. That might have been because the minister of the new endeavour was the Rev George Armour Fair. He was from Ontario, and his time in the East End was limited. By July of 1898, Fair “left the church . . . [and] with a portion of his former flock, organized a “non-denomination” group, which apparently held to a “Pentecostal” variety of doctrine.” He moved to a church in the West End, on the corner of Denman and Nelson.

The Baptists had formed a congregation in the area in 1894, and briefly their church was listed on the opposite side of Princess on the southern side of the street, (but also on Jackson). The Presbyterian congregation on Jackson merged in 1898 with the larger Hastings and Gore church, so in 1899 there were two Baptist churches shown on opposite sides of the street. One was the Jackson Avenue Baptist Church, and the other the Zion Baptist Church and Reformed Episcopal, addressed to Princess (which is East Pender today). By 1901 the short-lived Jackson Avenue church was no longer listed. A few years later the church in the picture was known once again as The Jackson Avenue Baptist Church, (although addressed to East Pender). In 1911 the church was altered and an addition was built, costing $6,000. The permit says J Carver was the architect and J G Price the builder. It’s likely that this was accidentally reversed; Mr. Carver was a contractor, and Mr. Price a consulting engineer, although that didn’t prevent him from designing many buildings including several significant ones in Chinatown. The photo on the right is undated, so we don’t know whether it shows the church before or after the 1911 changes.

In 1953 the Chinese Public School purchased and renovated the church. We don’t know how much the building was altered, but the ‘Chinese’ flared eaves in the image were added to the entry porch and tower.

The building was replaced in 1983 with the building designed by Hin Fong Yip that’s there today. It’s the Chinese Social Development Society, who operate a community centre, daycare, and on the second floor the Chinese Public School where Chinese language classes still operate.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-294 and First Baptist Church (Vancouver) Archival Collection.


Posted 1 April 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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612 Main Street

612 Main

Here’s a small commercial building on Main Street near Keefer. In our 1978 image it was a different small commercial building. Derek Neale and Associates were the designers of the 3-storey replacement, completed in 1982. The earlier building dated back to 1901, built by Baynes and Horie for owner (and supposedly, architect) H J Franklin at a cost of $2,200. It may have started life as a single storey structure because in 1911 owners Armstrong & Edwards hired an architect called ‘Price’ to make $7,400 of alterations to the building. Watson and Hitch were the builders, and ‘Price’ was most likely to be J G Price, an architect who worked on a number of Chinatown buildings including Wing Sang’s tenement building, and West Hotel. Three years later different owners Lowen, Harvey & Preston made some more (less drastic) changes.

There was a house here through the 1890s: in 1897 John Abrams, an engineer lived here, and in 1899 it was his widow. In what was presumably the new building someone identified as J Franklin sold pianos in a short-lived venture in 1902, and in 1903 Harry Franklin was running a stationery business here for three years (presumably the same H J Franklin who designed it, and probably the piano salesman as well). William Murphy set up a rival stationers right next door in 1904, and both businesses had gone by 1906 when our building was home to Empire Commission, Auction & Brokerage. In 1908 J Donald & Co were running a grocers, and in 1909 a long-term occupant arrived (and bought the building) – Armstrong & Edwards, funeral directors. The firm became T Edwards & Co in 1912, and statyed until after 1930. In 1940 B S Herbert & Son elec contrs were here, and were still in the building a decade later.


Posted 16 February 2015 by ChangingCity in Chinatown, East End, Gone

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Pender Street and Shanghai Alley

Pender & Shanghai

This 1917 Vancouver Public Library image shows a five year old building. It faces West Pender Street, with the narrow face of the building on Shanghai Alley (shown as Shanghai Street on the 1912 insurance map). It was designed by J G Price for Lun Yick Co, a Chinese-owned company controlled by Yip Chun Tien (more often called Yip Sang, who also ran the Wing Sang Company). Price also designed the West Hotel for the same client in the same year, and the two buildings looked very similar.

As it was built in 1912 it wasn’t, as you might expect, the first building on the site. Wing Sang had built a 2-storey building here earlier – we think it was in 1903, designed by ‘Mr. O’Keefe’. Michael O’Keefe wasn’t really an architect, he was mostly a builder, but he was willing to design buildings for Chinese owners to build themselves. He didn’t even live in Vancouver; the only likely M O’Keefe we’ve found was a carpenter, and later a builder, living in Victoria. We know he took the steamer to cross to Vancouver in the early 1900s. The tunnel in the centre of the building (the only real Chinatown tunnel!) led to an alley – Canton Alley – although the 1912 insurance map called it Canton Street. A series of buildings were built here by Wing Sang over nearly 10 years, costing over $150,000 with this $55,000 investment.

The seven storey apartment building didn’t last all that long. It was demolished in 1948, and the site stayed undeveloped for many years. In 1998 the CBA Manor and an adjacent building were built. As far as we can tell they were designed by Joe Wai and Davidson Yuen Simpson. There is a 4-storey social services centre run by SUCCESS, and a commercial and residential building on seven floors.


Posted 8 September 2014 by ChangingCity in Chinatown, East End, Gone

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West Hotel – Carrall Street

The West Hotel has been around for nearly a century, and is looking pretty good, considering. As this VPL 1951 picture shows, it did pretty well in the first half of its existence. The huge cornice was still intact and the BC Electric Depot nearby kept it busy (and is the said to be why it was so much bigger than most other hotels).

It was designed by J G Price, and completed in 1913 for Lun Yick Co, a Chinese owned company controlled by Yip Chun Tien (more often called Yip Sang, who also ran the Wing Sang Company).  The size of the hotel shows the resources available to the Chinese merchants in the city in the early part of the 20th Century. The Wing Sang company ran a trading empire, supplied labour and operating fish packing businesses as well as an opium factory (perfectly legally at the time). Today the beer parlour is still downstairs and the upper floors are now a privately owned SRO hotel.


Posted 22 February 2012 by ChangingCity in Chinatown, Still Standing

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Wing Sang & Co – East Pender Street

Chinese merchant Yip Sang arrived in Canada in 1881 (from San Francisco, where he’d been working for 16 years) and headed for the Cariboo gold fields. He had no luck there, but more success when he got work as the supervisor of the Chinese work gangs building the Canadian Pacific Railway. When the line was completed he based himself in the new city of Vancouver, and in 1888 established the Wing Sang Company. A year later he was able to build a warehouse and store with living accommodation, and here he is in 1900 in front of it. on East Pender Street between Carrall and Columbia, with three children, and two wives. A year later he added a third floor, and built eastwards as his business expanded exponentially.


By 1908 he was reckoned to be worth over $200,000 and in time he came to own at least 16 city lots. In 1912 he added a new wing at the back of the Pender Street building to house his three wives and twenty-three children. The original architect of the two storey part has not been identified – although there weren’t too many choices in 1889. T E Julian was hired for the first expansion, and J G Price designed the third phase. He was actually a structural engineer, but not averse to calling himself an architect.

The official explanation for the second floor doorway is that goods were hauled up to the warehouse, but with no lifting gear it seems more likely to be an off-the-shelf design that contemplated the possibility of a porch across the sidewalk that was never actually built. There was a perfectly serviceable staircase on the outside of the east side of the building. The Yip family finally sold the building in 2001, and in 2006 realtor Bob Rennie initiated a multi-million dollar award-winning restoration designed by Walter Francl that put everything back the way it was designed (at the front), while creating an extraordinary art gallery from the rear building and the space between.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 689-52 and CVA 689-91