Archive for the ‘James Van Bramer’ Tag

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


Springer-Van Bramer Block – West Cordova Street

We’ve dug into the background of Both Ben Springer and Captain James Van Bramer on our Building Vancouver blog. Ben Springer was associated with the Moodyville sawmill after successfully mining in the Cariboo. James Van Bramer was an American, ‘a little man with a beard’ who owned shares in Moody’s first New Westminster mill, owned the tug the ‘Sea Foam’, and later a silver mine. They partnered to build several structures, and this is the one most associated with them (probably their third). It has lost its ornate cornice and Freemason’s insignia, but otherwise it’s pretty good for a building completed in 1888 (the year the picture was taken). It was designed by N S Hoffar with 5 stores, second floor offices and the Masonic Temple and Oddfellows’ Hall on the third floor.

By 1901 there were a curious range of tenants including the National Cash Register Co, Kelly Douglas & Co’s wholesale cigar department, George J Dyke’s violin academy and the Victoria Vancouver Transportation Co. A decade later only the cash registers were still there – upstairs had become a rooming house, two rival safe companies Toronto and Vancouver were both represented), and a wholesale jewellers. 1920 saw many of the units vacant, but the Enterprise Engine Agency and the Paris Hat and Frame Co were both in business along with the Pacific Tractor Co and the Commercial Auto Delivery Co. In 1930 it seems to have been called Mercantile Building #2, and now has mostly office tenants but also the Blue Bird Dress Co and Sterling Clothing Manufacturers.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P243.1


Posted February 8, 2012 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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