Archive for the ‘Joe Wai’ Tag

Swedish Lutheran Church – Dunlevy Avenue

This was the first Swedish Lutheran Church built in Vancouver, seen here in 1904, the year it was built, photographed by Philip Timms. It was built on the north-east corner of Princess (today that’s East Pender) and Dunlevy and was known as The First Swedish Church. There had been a house on the lot in 1903, and it looks like it was relocated next to the church, on the north side, and then altered and moved again in 1909, closer to the lane.

This building was founded by a visiting Augustana Lutheran, Pastor G A Anderson, whose congregation was in LaConner, in Washington. The newly established church had 34 members in 1903, and a year later the Rev. C Rupert Swanson organized the construction of the building that seated 100. It was 25 feet by 38, and cost $595 to erect. The census tells us that there were a number of Swedish carpenters in the city, and it’s likely that the cost was mostly the materials rather than the labour. The congregation grew, and in 1910 there was a new church that could seat up to 1,000, built a block away to the east.

This building was listed for several years into the early 1920s as ‘Miner Hall’, but there are no records of it being used, or any events associated with it. By the mid 1920s it was once again being used as a church – a Chinese Presbyterian congregation moving in, but by 1930 the address was no longer listed. However, the United Church Chinese Mission were based at a Dunlevy address from 1929. We think the new church was the ‘United Church Chapal and Seminary designed by H S Griffith in 1930. (The Chinese Presbyterians also built a new church on Keefer near Gore in 1930).

This new, larger building extending slightly further east. There was also a Christian Education Centre, and for nearly 70 years the mission relied on the Board of Home Missions and the Woman’s Missionary Society for financial support and leadership, and was known as the Chinese Mission, United Church of Canada. It achieved full self-support in 1955, and became known as the Chinese United Church.

Today the Chinese United Church Lodge provides 29 units of non-market housing, almost hidden by the landscaping. It was completed in 1993 and designed by Joe Wai Architects. The Chinese United Church joined congregations with the Chown Memorial United Church, and they jointly retain ownership of the land, which is leased to the Housing Society.

Image sources: VPL and City of Vancouver Archives CVA 786-50.01

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Posted 20 May 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Seymour Street – 1000 block, west side (2)

Here’s the southern end of the western side of the 1000 block of Seymour Street in 1981. We looked at the mid-block and the northern end, and the Penthouse Club, in the previous post. At this end the surface parking lot, (that was originally developed with houses in the early 1900s), was developed again in the early 1990s. Joe Wai designed the New Continental, with 110 units of non-market housing owned by the City of Vancouver. It was constructed in 1991 in accordance with BC Housing Standards of the time, which set out a maximum unit price for each suite and methods of construction. The building is a 15-storey concrete frame structure with a two-storey brick street wall podium for the residential tower which was clad with an Exterior Insulation and Finish System (EIFS). By 1998 it was obvious that water was getting into the building, and in 2000 the entire structure was reclad with new insulation and a rainscreen, and replacement roofs at a cost of $2.3m.

On the third floor, the Continental Seniors Centre is a drop in centre that caters to seniors or people over 45 years of age with a disability. There’s a large roof deck over the second floor that’s part of the Senior’s Centre. On the main floor The Gathering Place Community Centre offers programs and services to the Downtown South community. The centre primarily serves vulnerable populations, including people on lower income, people with disabilities, seniors, people of diverse ethnic backgrounds, the LGBTQ community, youth, and people who are homeless. They provide accessible and engaging programs with a focus on food and nutrition, health, education, recreation, arts and culture, and community development. The Gathering Place operates 7 days a week from 10am to 8pm and is open all statutory holidays. The VSB also run an Adult Education Centre within the Gathering Place.

In 1903 there were six identical houses already built across the end of the block, all of them fronting Helmcken Street. By 1912 the rest of the block had filled up with houses fronting onto Seymour. There are no identifiable permits for their construction, so they were probably built between 1905 and 1908 when the building permits have been lost. Some of the homes here had important residents like Thomas A Dunn, foreman at the R C Planing Mill and Magloire DesRosiers who developed a building for his stoves business on East Hastings, but their neighbours were Edward McCarry who was a freight hand on the CPR wharf and Elliott Llloyd, a carpenter.

We’re not sure when the site was cleared, but several addresses had disappeared, suggesting the houses had already been demolished by the mid 1950s.

Image source, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E03.16A

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Posted 21 June 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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31 West Pender Street

Here’s the Pender Hotel in 1977, although at that time it was called the Wingate Hotel. Today it has a new name, Skwachays Lodge, and it’s effectively a new building. It was first a new building in 1913 when it was called the Palmer Rooms and it was an investment property designed by W T Whiteway for Storey and Campbell. They were owners of a manufacturing company making saddles, harnesses and trunks, with a new warehouse and manufacturing building just up the street on Beatty Street. We looked at the owners of the company when we described the history of that building.

This was a $40,000 investment, which was only a fraction of the budget that the same architect had three years earlier for the World Building, (today known as the Sun Tower), just across the street. Whiteway still managed to add some fancy architectural details in terra cotta with some elaborate pressed metal work on the cornice. Structurally the building wasn’t sophisticated – steel columns supporting millwork floors. In 1946 it was acquired by Lai Hing, who lived in the building and operated his hotel business under the Wingate Hotel name for over 30 years.

More recently it was acquired by B C Housing, one of over 20 SRO buildings that were bought to stabilize the stock of older, cheaper rental space, and to improve the state of the buildings, both structurally and in terms of facilities. After years of neglect (and with some harrowing stories of former activities in the building), the Pender Hotel was the only one found to be beyond repair. Instead a completely new building was constructed in 2012 behind the original (and now seismically stable) façade. Joe Wai, who designed the adjacent native housing building to the east, was the architect.

Today the building is run by the Vancouver Native Housing Society, and provides 24 housing units for artists and 18 hotel rooms, each one designed by first nations artists on a specific theme with names like the Hummingbird, the Moon and the Northern Lights suite. They’re available for first nations medical stay guests as well as tourists. As a social enterprise, the hotel needed at least 50% occupancy, but initially that wasn’t being achieved. The idea of adding the themes made all the difference, and now the hotel is recognized around the world and in high demand. As well as the first nations designed rooms there’s a sweat lodge on the roof, as well as a totem pole called ‘Dreamweaver’, carved by Francis Horne Sr, and a Haida designed screen by Eric Parnell as well as a Fair Trade Gallery at street level.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1135-19

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Posted 17 August 2017 by ChangingCity in Altered, East End, Victory Square

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Keefer Street, north side from Jackson

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When W E Graham took this picture in 1966, Strathcona was an area of the city that was still threatened with obliteration. The ‘urban renewal’ of the neighbourhood and parts of Chinatown were still on the table – although it was becoming apparent that the local community weren’t going to roll over and allow their homes to be bulldozed, at least not without a fight. Several blocks of houses and businesses had been flattened, and new rental housing (at higher densities) had been built, ostensibly to rehouse the community. The Maclean Park housing development between Union, Keefer, Gore and Jackson is immediately behind the photographer; construction was started in 1963, and completed in 1970 (although the design dates from the 1950s).

The homes in the picture had already been expropriated by the City of Vancouver some years before. We don’t know who built them, or exactly when, but they were already built when the 1901 Goad’s Insurance map was published. In 1967 it became apparent that even if the City of Vancouver still favoured ‘slum clearance’ of the entire area, other levels of government wouldn’t be funding the remainder of the program. We’re not sure exactly when the houses were demolished; there’s an Archives image that shows a few were still standing on the block in 1973. The dramatic change in levels that resulted from the redevelopment can be seen clearly – the houses were on a much higher level because, as with much of Strathcona, the streets were leveled after the houses had been built.

The City’s plans for this site intended it to be sold to a private developer for market housing, and it was sold for a third of the cost to assemble it. The purchaser blew the deal and didn’t develop the land as promised; lawsuits ensued and the city eventually regained the land. The City then proposed that a fire hall should be built on the site, but after local objections that was built on Prior Street and the land was reserved for family housing. Mau Dan Gardens was developed by the Strathcona Area Housing Society, (a spin-off from the Strathcona Property Owners and Tenants Association – SPOTA – the community group who successfully fought the comprehensive redevelopment of the area). It was designed by Joe Y Wai and Spaceworks Architects, and built by the Turnbull and Gale construction company. Some of the units were sold, and remain freehold properties.

The majority of the 128 unit project is a housing co-operative. The founding membership of the Co-operative were predominantly of Chinese ethnicity, but included families of Vietnamese, Cambodian, Japanese and Canadian origin. In the past couple of years the complex has been comprehensively updated for the first time since its 1981 completion. New energy efficient windows and roofs were provided, the wooden frame repaired where needed and a new rainscreen stucco finish applied to the outer walls over improved insulation and soundproofing.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1135-35 (reversed)

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Posted 21 November 2016 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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East Pender and Columbia Street (2)

Columbia Block 1972

Over the forty plus years since the earlier view of this building, relatively little changed on the building originally designed by R T Perry for Sam Kee. In 1935 they were the Tung Ah Rooms; they were still called that two decades later. Just as in 1929 W Santien and Co were occupying the store: but instead of dry goods they sold men’s furnishings – they were still there ten years later as well.  Next door was Tom’s Taxis and the Sen Sen barber’s store; in 1955 it had become the Joyland Arcade. At 107 in 1945 was Way Lee’s confectionary store;  ten years later the Dai Yew Club operated. By 1972 when this picture was taken Con’s Appliances occupied the main floor and the rooms upstairs hadn’t changed their name – they were still the Tung Ah Rooms, although the building had been tidied up and named the Columbia Block. A VPL shot from 1961 show’s Con;s was already established in the building then.

In 1974 the rooms were closed as a result of new City by-laws. It was closed down for seven years, and reopened in 1981 with an additional floor. It had fewer, quite a bit larger rooms, but they were still small. The developers were the Dart Coon Club – an organisation loosely associated with the Chinese Freemasons. The Club still exists, but have their club premises on the other side of the street, and they continue to administer the rooms here. The Chinese Freemasons included Harry Con, who ran Con’s Appliances and was also active in the Strathcona Property Owners and Tenants Association who eventually stopped the redevelopment of the entire Strathcona area. In 1967 he had published the first history of Canada written in Chinese, and in 1982 was awarded the Order of Canada. The club hired Joe Wai to design the renovated store fronts and third floor addition.

Today the Chinese Tea Shop have their store here, and along Columbia are three newly opened ‘pop-up’ stores. Three murals, added in 2010, show the Wah Chong Laundry (which was on Water Street), Chinese men in 1936, and a 1905 merchant called Lee Chong. The artist is Arthur Shu Ren Cheng and the work was initiated by the Vancouver Chinatown Business Improvement Association.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-451

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Posted 13 January 2014 by ChangingCity in Altered, Chinatown, Still Standing

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27 West Pender Street

27 W Pender 1920

27 West Pender Street is today’s address – when the building in our image was built it was numbered as 31 Pender (East Pender was still called Dupont). It was built for the Brackman-Kerr Milling Co, and designed by Townsend & Townsend in 1909. It was built to the west of the warehouse built by McLellan and McFeely, but later used by the United Warehouse Co, and by 1920 (as our photo shows) the McQueen Produce Co Ltd. In actual fact, Brackman-Kerr (the name on the building permit and the insurance maps of the day) was really Brackman-Ker. Henry Brackman (who made his fortune in the Cariboo Gold rush) initially partnered with James Milne, a Scottish miller and stonecutter in 1877 to manufacture rolled oats in North Saanich, but the company disappeared in 1879 and was resurrected when Brackman partnered with David Russell Ker in 1881. After Brackman’s death in 1903, Ker led the company in an ambitious expansion throughout Western Canada, including this Vancouver property. Their 1912 catalogue offered Grass and Clover Seeds, Seed Grain, Seed Potatoes, Fertilizers and Sprays.

van loo27 W Pender 1950We haven’t dug up much about D J Elmer; El Sidelo seems to have been a brand created by a Seattle company, while El Doro was a Canadian brand and the Van Loo Cigar Company were a Vancouver based manufacturer. They were fairly newly in the building, which might be why the photo was taken. For several years before the cigar company moved in the B C A Junk Co were in the building. By 1924 the operation was still there but called the Vancouver Tobacco Co. By the 1930s they had been replaced by Gough & Thompson Ltd who supplied electrical equipment. Then in the early 1950s, in a curious case of deja vu, Brackman-Ker were once again the building’s occupants. Perhaps they never sold the building, and the various companies through the 1930s and 40s were their tenants. (Brackman-Ker occupied a small modern building near the Georgia Viaduct in the 1930s).

Today the building on the site is Ian Leman Place, designed by Joe Wai for the Vancouver Native Housing Society. They are an organization dedicated to providing housing for the urban aboriginal community, funded by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and BC Housing Management Commission through programs such as the Urban Native Housing Program, Low Income Urban Singles (LIUS) and Homeless at Risk Programs. In addition they provide programs that enrich and enhance the lives of tenants and others in the community.

Photo sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-1351 and CVA LGN 454

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Posted 24 January 2013 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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243 East Georgia Street

Here’s a small building in Chinatown designed by E E Blackmore in 1910 for T T Wallace and later the home of Chinese produce merchant Ah Mew, seen here in 1933. The more recent replacement is one of two Housing Co-ops both named after Lore Krill. This one was designed by Joe Wai and completed in 2002. A small house with a false front can be seen on the right of both pictures.

photo source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4379

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Posted 25 December 2011 by ChangingCity in Chinatown, Gone

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