Archive for the ‘John A Seabold’ Tag

Blenheim Court – 1209 Jervis Street

This is one of the earlier West End apartment buildings that’s still standing today. Built in 1910, it was developed by John A Seabold, who spent an impressive $85,000 on its construction, with Arthur Bird hired as architect. A year earlier the same development team developed The Capitola, also on Davie Street, and also still standing today.

We looked at Mr. Seabold’s history in that post; an American, he was in the city from 1900, and his wife Louise joined him in 1901. When he arrived he was a waiter, aged 26, and soon elected president of the waitresses and Cook’s Union. Less than 10 years later he built this apartment, with 42 suites, which, according to a full page advert taken out by Arthur J Bird, the architect,  “thirty-three of which include parlor, dining-room bedroom, kitchen and pantry, and also a bathroom. Some of these have balconies, and all suites are fitted with clothes and linen closets. The bathrooms are floored with terrazzo flooring, furnished by the British Columbia Supply Co. The doors in the building are all fitted with Sargent’s locks, which were supplied by Messers. Lewis & Sills. One very modern convenience in this building is that the suites have a complete system of local phones, connecting to city phones, which will be a great boon to the tenants.”

At the start of the First World War Mr. Seabold was said to have abandoned some of his property in Vancouver, and headed back to the US. At the age of 40 he said he was called up, and with a German family background he was unwilling to be involved in the fighting. However, he had already sold his interest in Blenheim Court. In December 1911, Roberts Meredith and Co sold his half share in the building for $85,000 ‘to Vancouver and London capitalists’. (He also managed to sell the Clarence Hotel for $40,000 in 1914.) Early residents of the building included Charles Bentall, at the time newly married and an employee of Dominion Construction, a business he would end up leading in subsequent years.

In 1959 the building was in the news when Robert White, a barman at the Arctic Club, was murdered in his apartment. One of three ‘bachelor murders’ in the West End that year, his killer claimed self-defense (despite stealing the victim’s wallet), and was sentenced to 3 years for manslaughter.

In 1990, five years after our image was taken, the property made the news when the owners at the time, PCI Realty Corporation, made substantial financial payments to tenants to move, so that a floor-by-floor renovation could be carried out. Gladys Vines, who was 83, and had lived in the building for 51 years, was offered $3,000, based on $50 a year of tenancy, plus moving expenses. (Eviction notices were also issued, so it was goodwill gesture rather than a requirement in those days).

More recently, in 2015, new owners of the building were accused of using a loophole in the Residential Tenancy Act by only issuing fixed term leases, and then increasing rents as much as 20% in subsequent leases for the same tenant. That led to a change in the Tenancy Act in 2017 to ensure that rents couldn’t be increased by more than a legislated amount.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-1682

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Posted 4 August 2022 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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Capitola Apartments – Davie and Thurlow

capitola-pharmacy-and-apartments-davie-thurlow

The upper floors of building haven’t really changed much since it was built in 1909. According to the building permit it cost $20,000 and was designed by A J Bird for J Seabold. (The Contract Record said Seabold and Roberts were the developers. We haven’t successfully identified who John Seabold’s development partner was.) In 1991 four dwelling units were converted to retail use, so there are now just 10 apartments in the building, but there were more in this 1924 image. The Daily World, in announcing the development, said “the design will be of classic character”.

John A Seabold developed a number of other apartment buildings around the city, including the Empire Hotel on East Hastings, our first post on this blog. He started out building houses, then apartments, and eventually was in partnership as Seabold and Roberts, building significant buildings for the day including Blenheim Court two blocks further along Davie Street.

seabold-1909seabold-1917Seabold was an American, and the source of his success was explained in a story published in an Indiana newspaper in November 1909; the Jasper Weekly Courier, published in Jasper, Dubois County. He was quoted saying that Western real estate “is better than a gold mine”. In 1913 he acquired the Clarence Hotel on West Pender Street. However, Mr. Seabold’s perspective changed quite quickly. Vancouver changed significantly from the city that only a few years earlier had elected a Jewish German mayor with a noticeable accent, David Oppenheimer.

A 1917 article in another Indiana newspaper, the Bluffton Chronicle, clarifies a point we’ve noted about several other Vancouver residents during the First World War. If there was any suggestion of German family origins it was wise to change your name or move south. The 1911 Census said that John was from a German family, but had been born in the USA. He was married to Louise, also born in the USA into a German family and they had a son, Ralph aged nine. John and Louise Schwartz were married in Michigan in 1900. They were shown having arrived in Canada in the same year, and appeared as John and Louisa Seabold in the 1901 census, lodging with Minnie Matthias. At that time John was a waiter, while in 1911 he was shown as a builder.

The 1917 news story explains that Mr. Seabold had tried to sell his property, but ‘found this impossible’. That wasn’t necessarily anything to do with Mr. Seabold’s origins – the economy of the city hit the skids around 1913, and the war didn’t improve things.

The main reason for heading to the USA was being drafted into the Canadian forces, which would have potentially have seen Mr. Seabold (who was aged 40 when the war broke out), expected to fight in Europe. The newspaper reported that some of Mr. Seabold’s property had been confiscated, presumably as a result of his decision to leave the country.

In 1944 Ralph Seabold was married in Los Angeles,  and John and Louise were living there in both the 1930 and in 1940 US Census records. They moved south to California in the 1930s; in 1920 they were living in Seattle where John was working as a contractor.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N324.

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Posted 17 October 2016 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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