Archive for the ‘J Y McCarter’ Tag

2224 Alberta Street

This 1913 apartment building is today surrounded by industrial and commercial building. Sitting in what is now the Mount Pleasant Industrial Area, it’s only a block from the headquarters and laboratories of a major bio-tech company, and a block and a half from the offices of Best Buy Canada.

The architect was J Y McCarter, Dominion Construction were the builders for the $22,000 investment, and W G Elliott was the developer. In 1913 he was living at 226 W6th Avenue, which was the house that was on this lot before the apartments were built. The first resident here was in 1905, listed as W G Elliott, agent, and the 1903 permit for the house was issued to E M Elliott.

He had been in Vancouver since 1890, when he had rooms at the Leland Hotel, and worked for J. M. Holland & Co., a real estate company. In 1891 he was shown in the census as born in the US in 1862, although his death record shows he was William Gallogly Elliott, born in 1861. He married in 1893 to Eunice Madella Peet, who was 25 and from Braut Co, Ontario, while her husband was from Ohio. In 1893 W G Elliott threatened he would hold the City liable unless the snow was cleared off Cambie and Hastings Street near his property. No doubt Eunice was the E M Elliott who obtained the building permit for their 1903 house.

By 1894 W G was a newsagent and tobacconist on Cambie, living on Homer Street, and his first daughter, Carrie, was born almost exactly a year after his wedding. Alma followed in 1896, and the 1901 census showed a son – so new he was listed as ‘Baby Elliott’. He didn’t survive, but Hiller did, born in 1907. In 1910 William G Elliott was still listed as a newsagent, but in 1911 he was in real estate,

The building featured in The Vancouver Sun in January 1913, with expectations of completion by June. “In designing the building Mr. J. Y. McCarter, a Vancouver architect, has closely followed the colonial style of architecture, producing a most admirable as well as artistic effect. In all there will be twelve suites of three rooms each in the structure, four of which will be considered suites de luxe and will be elegantly equipped with disappearing beds. All, however, will contain individual telephones, tiled bath-rooms fitted with the latest inventions and will be hot-water heated by a most modern system. The usual decoration of British Columbia fir will be used for the panneling and other interior wood work. Elaborate decorations and flooring of marble and tile will be used in finishing the entrance. In the basement of the structure will be placed a laundry, locker rooms for each tenant and a janitor’s comomdious and comfortable living quarters

In 1914 Alma Court was listed for the first time in the street directory, showing 10 apartments on 2 floors, and initially a basement unit as well. That reappeared later, with 12 apartments on two floors. William continued to be shown living at 226 W 6th, even though it had been demolished to develop the apartments, but in 1917 the directory clerk corrected that to 222 W 6th, (so he was living next door). In a change of occupation, he was shown as working as a farmer in 1916 and again in 1921. We’re not certain what happened to the family after this. One daughter, Alma Elliott married Leopold Miller in 1921 in Los Angeles. Earlier that year Carrie Elliott had married Lorne McIntosh, in Vancouver.

W G Elliott is shown farming in Richmond in 1925, and Mrs. W G Elliott won a prize for her eggs and was shown resident in Eburne (which was where Richmond residents were listed in the early 1920s). Whether it’s the same W G Elliott we can’t be sure, but it seems likely as Mr. Elliott advertised both livestock and real estate from his ‘Bridge No. 1’ Eburne address during the 1920s and early 1930s. The family were still in Vancouver in 1933 when Eunice Elliott’s father passed away, aged 88, and the couple had moved to E 29th Avenue, where William was shown as retired. In 1934 Mrs. W G Elliott was noted as having returned from Glendale, California, where she spent the winter with her daughter. In 1939 she took another trip to California with her other daughter and son-in-law.

In 1936 William wrote a letter to the press from his home, back at 222 W 6th Avenue. He advocated construction of a highway to gainfully employ the thousands of unemployed, and (in a thoroughly modern suggestion) answered the question ‘how do we pay for this?’ answered simply ‘print the money as required’. William died in 1943, and in 1945 Eunice took a trip ‘by aeroplane’ with her daughter for two months, visiting her other daughter, and to Palm Springs. She was living there when she died in 1947, as was her son Hillier.

Over the years the apartment building had a few tenants who made the papers. There were three different tenants with DUI charges, and in 1946 a tenant was driving a car that struck and killed a pedestrian – but he was not charged in that case. In 1961 another tenant received a 2 year prison term for passing $152 of forged cheques. In 1976 Gregory Baumeister stood trial for possessing a pipe bomb that police found when they raided his apartment here. An electrical technician aged 19, he was found guilty and sentenced to 9 months in prison.

In 1966, and into 1967 the building was offered for sale at $75,900, with a rent roll of $10,500. In 1973 it was offered for sale as 13 suites, with the adjacent lot, for $150,000 ($17,000 down payment). Our picture was taken in 1978. It was offered again in 1982 for $299,000 – said to be land value. The gross rent was $32,000, and expenses estimated at $11,000. ‘Level – easy to build on’. Either it didn’t sell, or was flipped – a year later in July 1983 it was $379,000, although rent was only $1,000 more. It had dropped to $319,000 in November ‘best deal in town’ – (although the building ‘needs some work’) and the rent roll now brought in $37,000.  It was offered for sale as a development site again more recently at $4,500,000, and today has an assessed value of just over $7,500,000 (although the building is only valued at $20,000) – a number that would have shocked William Elliott.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 786-41.01


Posted 19 September 2022 by ChangingCity in Mount Pleasant, Still Standing

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Seymour Street – 700 block, east side

These four buildings were swallowed by the BC Tel (now Telus) data centre, which these days is mostly office space. The BC Telephone Company were already here in this 1947 image. They had developed the tall 8-storey building almost on the right of the picture. Although the company claimed, on the building permit, to be architect and builder of the project, we know that J Y McCarter designed the 1913 structure, because his drawings for it are in the Vancouver Archives.

Next door is Firehall #2. It was built in 1903, cost $29,000 and was designed by W T Whiteway. The small building to the north, (738 Seymour), with the unusual pediment, was designed in 1925 by W F Gardiner for Rose, Cowan & Latta Ltd. They were printers and stationers, and also sometimes publishers of information booklets, commemorating events in the city. In 1925 R R Rose was company president, (but may not have lived in Vancouver), John B Cowan was company secretary, living on W37th, and Edward F Latta lived in North Vancouver. The company were still here in 1947, with the Seymour Cigar Store in the retail unit, with Miss I New and G Hicks offering vocal training at the same address, presumably in an office upstairs. The building replaced a house built here in 1901. It cost $1,000, and the developer was Mr. Morton, possibly one of two carpenters called Morton who lived in the city at that time.

The two storey building to the north (with the protruding ‘button’ sign) was Smith’s Button Works, The Button Works first appeared in 1929, and before that in 1928 it looks as if there was a house here. Smith’s actually did much more than supply buttons, as this directory entry shows. London & British North America Co. Ltd were the developers, and the architect was Philip P Brown. Baynes & Horie built the $15,000 investment.

724 Seymour on the edge of the picture was home to the Quadra Club in 1947. The building seems to have been built around 1932. It housed the Vancouver Little Theatre Association that year, and Paul Pini was running a restaurant in 1934. By 1936 that had become the Old Dutch Mill Cafe, with the Bal Tavern Cabaret, run by Mrs. E Yaci. The cabaret to see 1936 in advertised “BAL TAVERN CABARET NEW YEAR’S JAMBOREE dance to the Delightful Music of CLAUDE HILL AND HIS RHYTHM BOYS Gay Entertainment by MARIE MACK JACK GORDON AND A HOST OF OTHERS” The club had gone by 1937, replaced in 1938 by the Musicians Mutual Protective Union, and the Hotel & Restaurant Employees Union in 1940. There were other tenants – Sills and Grace, who sold hardware, and Technocracy Inc. They were an organisation that proposed replacing politicians and businesspeople with scientists and engineers to manage the economy. They were closed down in 1940 as they were perceived as being anti-war, but allowed to reform in 1943 when it became apparent that they favoured total conscription. They were replaced, briefly, by the National Spiritualist Association of Canada, but around 1942 the Quadra Club moved in, and stayed until the early 1970s.

Curiously, the Archives title for the picture also identifies the ‘Stock Exchange Bldg’, but that is clearly not here. Shell Oil apparently commissioned the photograph from Don Notman’s studios, but the reason isn’t obvious. In the late 1950s BC Tel replaced the Firehall and their 1913 building with a new much larger and more conemporary building, extended north in 1975 with a huge new automated telephone exchange designed by McCarter, Nairne and Partners. (They probably designed the first phase in the 1950s as well). In the past two years the building has been overclad with a glazed screen. Space no longer needed for equipment has been repurposed as offices, and the Telus headquarters is now here, and in the new Telus Garden office added a few years ago at the end of the block. A complex energy saving system has been introduced, recirculating the excess heat from the company’s computer servers.

To the south next to the BC Tel building, the 1940s Farrell Building (just being built in 1947) had an extra skin added in 2000 to improve energy efficiency, and more recently has been sold by Telus as a separate building, now the headquarters of Avigilon security systems, part of Motorola since 2018.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 586-7266


615 Burrard Street

Clark Parsons Buick 1219 W Georgia (really 615 Burrard)

Major Matthews, the City Archivist, wasn’t always accurate in his identification of the thousands of photographs he accumulated. Here’s a case in point, an image titled ‘Clark Parsons Buick Limited showroom building on West Georgia Street’ dating from 1927. Actually it’s on Burrard Street – we’ve seen a corner of it in an earlier post. In 1930 the company were advertising the advantages of the clark parsons ubc 1930used cars to UBC students in their Annual publication ‘The Totem”. W G Parsons was listed as the President: W Clark (identified as Robert W Clark in the street directory and later advertisments) was the Secretary-Treasurer of the company.

They sold McLaughlin Buick of Canada under the slogan ‘Vibrationless beyond belief’ and the cars were built in Canada as part of the General Motors Canadian operations. It’s possible J Y McCarter designed the building – he was responsible for the design next door in the same year at 635 Burrard, and we think some of the frame of a part-built hotel was used in the buildings here. The reason Major Matthews got the wrong label is that Clark Parsons moved to this building in 1927: in 1926 they were newly in business at 1219 W Georgia; we think W Parsons was most likely to be Wallace Parsons who was an auto mechanic in 1925.

By 1931 the company had expanded – as well as these premises there were Used Car Stores on Melville Street and Granville Street – although only Melville was open a year later, and in 1933 just this property remained active. A year later the business here was Bowell McDonald – a Pontiac and Buick dealership who later added Chevrolet and became better known in a foreshortened version of their name – Bow-Mac.

Today the site is part of the Burrard SkyTrain station, and park honouring Art Phillips, the former mayor.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives Bu N293


Posted 26 October 2015 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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Patricia Hotel – East Hastings Street


The Patricia started life with 200 rooms, fifty of them with their own bath. Having the luxury of your own bathroom wasn’t cheap – a 1923 brochure shows rooms from $1.00 and up for one person, $1.75 for two people, but $2.50 and $3.50 for a room with a bath. The $1.00 a night rate was quoted in 1913, when the hotel had first opened, so rates didn’t go up a lot in the early years. On opening, Edward P Mulhern was listed as the proprietor, J. J. Moraney was the chief clerk and Fredrick Southern the manager of the Patricia Pool Room. Before taking over the Patricia, Mulhern ran the Hotel Eagle at 111 West Cordova. Benjamin Taylor was running the Pool Room in 1916. In 1917 the Patricia Café opened, and that’s when this image was photographed by Stuart Thomson.

This wasn’t the first building on the lot; William Cargill built a house here in 1890. He ran the Sunnyside Hotel for a while, before becoming secretary of the Union Steamship Company, and later an accountant in the inland revenue department. He died in 1904, and in 1905 another house was built on the lot in 1905 by Doctor Thomas H Wilson. He was born in Waterloo, Ontario, in 1869, graduated in medicine in Manitoba in 1897 and had arrived in Vancouver by 1898 when he married an American, Clara Mitchell, in the Baptist Church.

As we have seen with other Vancouver professionals, Dr. Wilson joined the real-estate aspirations of the fast-growing city. He applied for a building permit for the site of his home in 1912, with J Y McCarter as architect and the Dominion Construction and Supply Co as the contractor of the $115,000 investment, described as “six-storey brick & mill construction store & hotel”. That same year he applied for a permit to build a $7,000 house designed by L E Gordon, and built by the Dominion Construction Co. In moving to Chilco Street he may have created some confusion; another medical doctor, Dr D H Wilson had built a home three blocks away in 1910. That Doctor Wilson had really pushed the boat out, spending $31,000 on a Samuel McLure designed mansion. He also built himself a hotel as an investment, the Alcazar on Dunsmuir Street.

The pool room became a café that began presenting jazz bands in October 1917, at first drawing on local musicians, including the African-Canadian drummer George Paris. Dr Wilson commissioned alterations in that year that may have created the new café, cabaret and dance venue. The Patricia Jazz Band – later Oscar Holden’s Jazz Orchestra – was organized by Oscar Holden, while William Bowman managed the cabaret in the Café. A 1919 note in an Indianapolis newspaper reported “The Patricia Orchestra, one of the best bands on the coast, is scoring a big hit in Vancouver. The band is composed of Oscar Holden, leader, pianist and clarinet; Charles Davis, banjo; Albert Paddio (Padio), trombone; Frank Odel, saxophone, and Williams (sic) Hoy, trap drummer and xylophonist. Misses Ada Smith (Brick Top) and Lillian Rose are the entertainers who are really pleasing in their work and money never fails to come after these clever girls get through. One of the band’s biggest hits is where they all stand and shimmie, featuring William Hoy, the clever Hoosier drummer, who wishes to say that he was made a Master Mason the 24th of November.” These must have been tough times for the proprietors of the café – requiring a carefully managed venue, as it was during the period of prohibition in British Columbia when it should have been theoretically impossible to enjoy any alcohol with the performance. 

Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louise Virginia Smith was known as ‘Bricktop’ because, although she was a black singer and dancer, she had red hair (thanks to an Irish father). She toured on the Pantage circuit, worked in Chicago and New York, and arrived at the Patricia around 1919. “Bowman’s biggest customers–and I do mean big,” wrote Smith in her 1983 autobiography, “were the Swedish lumberjacks who came into Vancouver on their time off. Tall, strapping fellows, they could make a bottle of whisky disappear in no time. Pretty soon, they’d be drunk and ready to fight.” One of the more notable brawls took place on Christmas Eve in 1919; Bricktop ended up with a broken leg. She returned to touring in the early 1920s, and opened a club in Paris in 1924 that stayed open until 1961.

Later that year Ferdinand LaMothe – better known as “Jelly Roll” Morton arrived in Vancouver, playing for several stints between 1919 and 1921, initially in the Patricia Café. A creole from New Orleans, Morton claimed to have invented jazz – which is a stretch – but he was certainly an influential pioneer of ragtime piano, writing the “Jelly Roll Blues” in 1905, and publishing it in 1915. The jazz historian Mark Miller described Morton’s arrival  as “an extended period of itinerancy as a pianist, vaudeville performer, gambler, hustler, and, as legend would have it, pimp”. He left Chicago, where he had been working, and headed west to Los Angeles. He is said to have lost heavily at a card game in Tacoma where Bowman was present, who invited him north to perform at the Patricia. Oscar Holden was a veteran of Chicago cabarets in the 1910s and remained in residence at the Patricia Café through 1920 and into 1921. He spent the rest of his career in Seattle. Morton also played at the Irving Cabaret, run by Paddy Sullivan, further west along Hastings, and had returned to the US by mid 1921, recording his music in the early 1920s with a base back in Chicago and traveling the country with his Jelly Roll Jazz Band.

In 1923 the hotel then had a lobby coffee shop, and the Patricia Gardens, but the street directory don’t identify any uses other than the hotel, so they were integrated into the hotel’s management (unlike many hotels where the bar or restaurant had separate proprietors). In 1925 there were 4 clerks, a book-keeper, and a waiter associated with the hotel. Edward Mulhern was still running it, and the cook was E Michael Mulhern (probably his son, also called Edward). A year later Edward senior, who came from Brechin in Ontario and was then aged 45, married 31 year old Mary Doherty from Ireland. He was described as divorced; it was her first marriage.

In 1940 there were three clerks, three waiters, a chambermaid, a porter, two elevator operators and an engineer associated with the hotel. Edward P Mulhern was still in charge, and one of the clerks was Christina Mulhern (almost certainly his ex-wife). The Mulhern family owned and operated the hotel until 1958; (Edward died in 1953).

Today the hotel operates as both a long-stay SRO hotel (although each room now has its own bathroom) and a budget hotel. On the main floor Pat’s Pub & BrewHouse still features live music. While the cornice has been lost for many years, the substantial ‘brick and stick’ structure is in pretty good shape and sees thousands of visitors every year. The huge mid 50’s neon sign replaced an earlier wall mounted sign from the 1940s. It’s one of the few remaining working examples on a street that has lost many excellent examples of the sign-builders art.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-187


635 Burrard Street

635 Burrard

There’s a complicated back story to this rather unassuming building on Burrard Street. As far as we can tell, the foundations for the site were laid in 1912, just as one of the city’s major development booms was starting to run out of steam. The Ramsay Hotel Co had a permit for this corner of Burrard and Melville Street for a 10 storey $520,000 hotel. The architect on the permit was identified as N A Leach. In fact he was Norman Leech, and he was the architect for the Vancouver School Board. The city’s clerk – probably accidentally – spelled his name correctly once, and wrongly on the other 27 permits he applied for.

It seems odd that Mr Leech would have time to design such a large commission with so many schools to develop across the rapidly expanding city. The explanation is probably contained in another announcement about the Ramsay Hotel – this one in The Province. Here the location is described as Burrard and Dunsmuir, and the architects are identified as Seattle based Quandt & Creutzer. So Mr Leech’s job was probably to supervise the processing of the permit and perhaps the day-to-day site supervision.

The Daily World reported on December 11th 1912 that the Liquor Licencing Board “was notified of the commencement of the Ramsay Hotel on Burrard street, at the corner of Melville, and received the assurance of both Mr. Ramsay and his architect that 1914 Burrard panthe work would be continued, until the building was completed. At a recent meeting the board asked for this assurance as it granted a license to Mr. Ramsay on the undertaking that his hotel would soon be completed” – and the 1912 insurance map confirms that the foundations were laid. However, not only was this bad timing from the point of view of the economy – it wasn’t the best time in competition terms either – the massive new Hotel Vancouver was being built just a couple of blocks away, and costing an even more enormous amount. Then the economy hit a full-on recession, and there was a war declared. We can see the first couple of floors of building in the 1914 panorama above – but nobody seems to be on site, building.

Burrard n from Georgia 1923 CVA Str N180Nothing appears in the Street Directories for this block for several years. The 1923 picture looking north down Burrard Street shows why – some of the frame is still there, increasingly stained, but clearly still standing. Very few changes have occurred on Burrard either – the city’s economy struggled for several years after the war was over.

Burrard & Dunsmuir construction 1926Then in 1926 this photograph was shot, showing ‘construction at Burrard and Dunsmuir’. We’re pretty certain that what it actually shows is demolition rather than construction – the northern part of the unbuilt Ramsay Hotel was being cleared, but it looks as if the frame to the south might have been retained, and we’re suggesting that it might have been re-used in the construction of the lower part of the building on the corner of Melville and Burrard as an auto accessory warehouse for McKenzie, White and Dunsmuir Ltd in 1927, designed by by J Y McCarter. (Demolition was undoubtedly a riskier business in those days, if this detail from the image is anything to go by.

demolition·In 1938 the British Columbia Government attempted to collect tax from Firestone, the tire company, for sales of their tires made by McKenzie, White and Dunsmuir as distributors (representing about a quarter of  McKenzie’s business). The case ended up passing up through the hierarchy of courts, and eventually the government lost the case heard by the Supreme Court in 1942. The Archives have some excellent images of the company’s activities, including a woman working on a crankshaft in 1944.

Next door a new building was completed for Clark Parsons Buick Ltd. Not too much later they were taken over by Bowell McDonald – a Pontiac, Chevrolet and Buick dealership who became better known later in a foreshortened version – Bow-Mac.

Image sources: Vancouver Public Library, City of Vancouver Archives  PAN N218, Str N180 and CVA 1399-544


Posted 21 August 2014 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone, West End

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