Archive for the ‘J W Horne’ Tag

Horne Block – West Cordova Street

We’ve looked at this building at a distance several years ago, but here it is close up. It’s not the only Horne Block still standing; there’s another on Cambie, and there were two others shown in this 1889 etching published in a Portland magazine called West Shore. Another (The Yale Hotel today) is also still with us – only the White Swan was redeveloped after a fire damaged it in 1894, less than 10 years after it had been built.

There was apparently a slightly different initial design for the West Cordova block, with the illustration obviously drawn before the building had been completed.

The developer was James Welton Horne, born in Toronto in 1853, with a remarkable early life (that he seems to have embellished more than a little). He did extremely well for himself at an early age, developing the new city of Brandon in Manitoba as the railway arrived, and seemingly in close association with the Canadian Pacific Railway, to their mutual benefit. He repeated the relationship in the newly established Vancouver, erecting four buildings before the city was 3 years old. An 1891 biography described him as ‘the heaviest individual property owner in Vancouver’, although that’s also probably self-promotion rather than accurate. With $156,000 worth of buildings he was a major investor, but Isaac Robinson and David Oppenheimer both had more valuable holdings.

He managed for a time to be both a Member of the Provincial Parliament, and an active property developer, but after four years in Victoria he retired from his political role in 1894 on medical advice (aged 41). Before that he had been elected to City Council in 1888 and 1889.

Another illustration of the building showed a somewhat more accurate representation, with the turret and decorative cornice that have both been lost for many years.

The narrow flatiron building (seen here in 1986) has housed a variety of businesses since NS Hoffar designed the building in 1889, including a wholesale shoe dealer in the 1920s, a wholesale stationer in 1952, a towel and sheet distributor in 1972, various fashion businesses from the 1980s to the 2000s, and now the home to a Timber Train Coffee Roasters cafe.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 791-0896



Posted 23 January 2023 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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Cordova Street and Water Street

Water & Cordova v3

The initial street grid of the Old Granville Township, which followed the shoreline along Water Street, meets the (almost) east-west grid surveyed by the Canadian Pacific Railway on West Cordova to create an acute flatiron corner. This 1895 image shows the 1892 Holland Block designed by C W H Sansom for James M. Holland, an early real estate developer. The building borrowed from both Italianate styling and the bay widows of San Francisco, and in the early days the Queen’s Hotel occupied the upper floors. The building incorporated cast iron columns that show the BC Ironworks mark.

There’s another flatiron building a bit further east. It’s actually two buildings, each designed by N S Hoffar and completed in 1888. The one we can see the complicated turret on is for J W Horne; beyond it is the Springer-Van Bramer block developed for the partnership of Ben Springer and James Van Bramer, both connected to the north shore Moody’s sawmill, and the developers of an earlier building on the south side of Cordova. J W Horne also developed a number of other buildings nearby, including one on Cambie Street also designed by Hoffar in 1890. Today the only additional building on this block is the Buscombe Building, built in 1899 as a 3-storey building for John Burns and later acquired by importers Buscombe & Co.

The only significant building at this end of the north side of Water Street was the 3-storey warehouse for the Hudson’s Bay Company, built in 1894. It’s still standing today, but with two extra floors added in 1903. In the distance today the Woodward’s development adds a new flatiron building, a 43 storey tower designed by Henriquez Partners.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives Str P392


The Yale Hotel – Granville Street

Yale Hotel

As you can see from this 1944 image, the Yale Hotel has been called by that name for many years. When it was first built in 1889 it was called the Colonial Hotel, and it was hooked up to the water system in July of 1889 a few months after the Golden Gate Hotel a block to the north, although the Yale wasn’t advertised as complete until 1890. It was designed by N S Hoffar who seemed to have designed eight or nine projects a year in the city at this time, and built for J W Horne, a keen investor in land and buildings with a close connection to the CPR. At one point his assets were said to be second in value only to the CPR themselves.

While it’s been stated that the building survived the fire having been built as a bunkhouse for the CPR, there’s no evidence that this is true. The construction of the hotels coincided with the construction of the electric streetcar on Granville Street. H P McCraney, in conversation with Major Matthews, recalled the first year of building the railway. “In the spring of 1889, I commenced operation in building the first street railway in Vancouver. The first track was laid on Granville Street, a little north of Pacific Street, perhaps a hundred feet north, where the slope runs up to a level. We started just at the level so that the horses may have an easy start when they pulled. The track was to run from bridge to bridge through the town. At that time, the Granville Street vicinity was mostly stumps, although down in Yaletown, a couple of hundred yards east or so, there was quite a little settlement.” When it was being built it was to be a horse-drawn railway; the decision to electrify the line was taken while construction was underway.

Yaletown was a small area with a collection of houses further east, on Seymour and Richards. It took its name from the town of Yale, the CPRs interim base while the tracks were being laid to the coast. Several of the houses were older than the city itself; 1371 Seymour for example was carried in pieces as lumber and re-erected. Some houses came ready-built on rail company flat cars. The CPR built their new Drake Street Yards and Roundhouse in 1887 – which was fortunate as the Yale machine shops burned down in 1887.

In 1907 the hotel name was switched to ‘The Yale’, which it has been ever since. The eastern addition to the hotel was built in 1909, designed by W T Whiteway for Marquis de Biddlecope, who we introduced when he built the St Francis Hotel.

Today the Yale has just undergone a comprehensive restoration and seismic repair that will see the SRO rooms upstairs and to the east reopened, and the bar noted for its blues back with a new sound system. The store fronts have been rebuilt to match the original building far more closely than before the makeover, and the 1950s neon sign reinstalled.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1184-624


Horne Block – Cambie Street

James W Horne was a successful land speculator (he founded the Manitoba city of Brandon) who developed a number of buildings in Vancouver, including this 1890 development designed by N S Hoffar at 325 Cambie Street. The block is unusual in having two retail floors behind the cast iron facade, with stairs up and down from the sidewalk.

Among several significant tenants were the Bank of North America (1892), Rand Bros. Real Estate (1896) and G.A. Roedde, bookbinder (1896). In addition, Atlen H. Towle, architect of the First Presbyterian Church (1894) at East Hastings and Gore Avenue, had premises here. Between 1910 and 1925, several publishing and lithography firms had their offices here, no doubt due to the proximity of the Province and Sun newspaper buildings. These days Danny’s Inn has 18 Single Room Occupancy tenants, while the retail space continues to be used on both floors.

Image Source: BC Archives


Posted 31 December 2011 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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