Archive for the ‘James M Holland’ Tag

West Cordova north side from Homer Street

Remarkably, all the buildings in this 1919 Vancouver Public Library picture are still standing today, almost unchanged in appearance in over 100 years.

We looked at the history of the big warehouse in the middle of this image in two earlier posts. On West Cordova it’s numbered as 401, while on Water Street it’s 342 Water Street. It was developed as a three storey building that later had two floors added. It was built in 1899 as The Burns Block, but became known later as the Buscombe Building. William Blackmore was hired by John Burns to build a three storey stone building, and in 1911 Grant and Henderson designed two additional floors at a cost of $13,500, which was executed in a grey Gulf Island stone matching the earlier phase of the building. We’re not completely sure which of two possible John Burns developed the building, but we suspect he was a Scottish born businessman who arrived in the 1890s when he was already in his 60s, and retired. His son, Fred Burns, was already in Vancouver, dealing in plumbing and engineering supplies.

To the left of the warehouse are two significantly older properties. The Jones Block was developed in 1890, and designed by N S Hoffar, who recycled his design (with an extra window on the top floor) for the McConnell Block next door, also in 1890. Most census records suggest Gilbert Smythe McConnell was born in Quebec around 1857, although his death certificate and the 1891 census said it was 1855. That Census has his name as Guibert, which is probably more accurate, before he switched it for convenience to Gilbert. An 1891 biography tells us much more about Mr. McConnell “Mr. McConnell was born in Argenteuil County, Quebec, in 1856, where he attended school. When fifteen years of age he entered the employ of Green, Sons & Co., of Montreal, wholesale dealers in men’s furnishings. He remained with this firm for seven years, when he received the appointment as Indian agent in charge of the Touchwood Hilt district, Manitoba, in which service he remained for about six years. At the breaking out of the rebellion in the Northwest, in 1885, he was appointed one of the transport officers on Gen. Middleton’s staff’. He returned to Woodstock after the rebellion had been quelled, and was married to the eldest daughter of Wm. Muir, of that town. Mr. McConnell came to Vancouver in 1886, shortly after the fire, and has since been actively identified with the city’s interests. He built about thirty houses, including a couple of brick blocks, and has been interested in various enterprises. He served for two years in the City Council. He started his present business, as a wholesale importer of gents’ furnishings, hats, caps, etc., about three months ago, and has already a very large trade. He owns and built the building he occupies, which is a three story brick, fronting on Cordova and Water streets.”

His wife, Nettie Agnes was from Ontario and ten years younger. They married in Woodstock, Ontario in 1886, and their children were born in British Columbia; William in 1888 and Florence in 1890. Gilbert died in 1934.

We haven’t found a contemporary reference to who the ‘Jones’ in the Jones Block was, but H A Jones had his offices here the year after it was completed. Harry Jones was originally from Liverpool, born there in 1851, and had been in Vancouver from before the 1886 fire. He developed several buildings in the city, and was married at least three times.

Running off the picture to the left is the Holland Block, completed in 1892 and designed by C W H Sansom for James M. Holland, an American lawyer. On the right of the Buscombe Building is the Homer Street Arcade which dates from 1912, designed by Stuart and White for the ‘Thompson Bros’ (actually Thomson), and built by the Burrard Construction Co for $30,000. It was an unusual building for Vancouver: an arcade linking Water Street to Cordova, with an entrance across the street from Homer Street, (which presumably explains its name).

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Holland Block – Cordova and Water Street

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We looked at this corner, with its early flatiron building, in an earlier post that took a more distant view of this building. This 1892 Vancouver Public Library view of the Holland Block shows it just completing construction. It was designed by C W H Sansom for James M. Holland, described as ‘an early real estate developer’.

Nothing seems to have been recorded of Mr. Holland’s history – other than his middle initial, and his area of employment. Before 1890 he was in partnership with W O Elliot as Real Estate Agents, as his partnership was dissolved that year. He also had interests that year south of the border: “Jas. M. HOLLAND has been appointed agent in Blaine for the Northern Pacific railroad, thus giving Blaine even advantages with other places in securing traveling privileges“. He may have been in a real estate partnership in Blaine as well; the Blaine Journal reporting that “HOLLAND & McFARLAND have just completed them a real estate office at the corner of H and Washington avenue“.

In 1891 James M Holland was registered in the Canada census as aged 32, an American and a lawyer. The Daily World confirmed that in 1890, announcing that “James M. Holland, the well known real estate agent of this city, has been admitted as an attorney in the Superior Court of Washington”. He was listed as lodging rather than owning property in the census, which the street directory confirmed; he was living in rooms at the Leland rooms at 131 E Hastings. His offices were on Cordova Street where he dealt in real estate, loans and insurance.

The first time he appears in a directory was in 1888 when he was the manager of the Vancouver Real Estate Exchange. Representatives from 25 companies created and signed a formal constitution and bylaws. The Exchange collapsed after almost three months and 24 meetings; there wouldn’t be a similar organization in the city until 1919. James didn’t stay here too long; the last entry we can find for him was in 1895, when he was listed as a capitalist, and living here, in the Holland Block. He had previously moved to Seattle in 1891, but apparently returned and built this corner building after that.

He was in a business partnership in Seattle as early as 1890, so seems to have divided his attention between BC and Washington State over several years. In 1892 he was president of the Bank of Sumas, in Sumas City, announced in the Daily World in 1891. In 1893 he acquired property in Blaine: “Documents were signed last week which makes James M. HOLLAND of Seattle the owner of the Lindsey block, sitting on the corner of Washington avenue and Martin street. The sum named in the conveyance is $20,000. This is one of the finest pieces of rental property in the city, being built of brick and in every way central and convenient. Mr. HOLLAND is to be congratulated on coming into possession of this fine piece of real estate, and it can but prove a remunerative investment. Mr. HOLLAND, as is shown by this investment, has an abiding faith in the future prosperity of Blaine.”

An 1895 announcement suggests he had got married: a Blaine newspaper reported that “Mr. and Mrs. James M. HOLLAND of Vancouver have gone for a visit to New York City.” Earlier that year the Holland Building in Whatcom was destroyed by fire, but was fortunately insured. There the trail goes cold; there are no further references in any Seattle, Vancouver or Blaine publications we can find.

hollandWe now know that he initially stayed in New York – James M Holland wrote in 1931 from Wall Street, recalling joining Theta Chi (a fraternal organization) fifty years earlier in Vermont “During fall quarter in 1881, Norwich University was reduced to only 12 students and Theta Chi’s membership was reduced to one undergraduate member, James M. Holland. In November of that year, Phil S. Randall and Henry B. Hersey approached Holland and insisted that they be allowed to join Theta Chi; Holland agreed, thus saving the Fraternity from extinction“.

Theta Chi have a history that includes a biography for James Michael Holland, and it includes a reference to him being in Vancouver, so we can be sure it’s the same person. He was born in Northfield, Vermont, in 1859, went to university and then studied law, being called to the Michigan bar in 1884. From 1885 to 1887 he represented a Boston bank in Fargo, North Dakota, then in real estate in both Seattle and Vancouver until 1895. That was the year he married and moved to New York, where he practiced law, engaged in real estate and public utilities, buying, improving and then selling to the municipality the water supply for Northfield. He was a trustee of Norwich University (where he obtained his degree) for 20 years. He died in Northfield in 1944.

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Posted 30 January 2017 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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Cordova Street and Water Street

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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

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