Archive for the ‘John Unsworth’ Tag

Palace Hotel, 3 West Hastings Street

The Palace was a very short-lived structure. It appears first in 1898, a wedge-shaped building facing the rail right of way that cut through the heart of Vancouver’s centre (as it still was then). This image was shot a year later. The first proprietor was John Unsworth, who doesn’t seem to have been in the city before the hotel opened, and isn’t in the city after 1900. Mr. Unsworth is a bit of a mystery; his one appearance in the Vancouver Daily World was in October 1899, when he was the witness who complained about the proprietor of the Louvre Hotel (next door to the Palace) selling liquor on Sunday. By that point he was the former proprietor of the Palace, but it’s possible he wasn’t too happy that the Palace had just had it’s licence revoked for having the dining room in a different location than the licence permitted. In 1896 he had taken over the Waverley Hotel in Chilliwack.

In 1901 the proprietor was Joseph Caron, but by the time the census was taken that year he was boarding elsewhere and listed as ‘Ex Hotel Prop’, although the street directory doesn’t identify a new owner until 1903 when Schmehl & Muller are listed. They took the name with them when a new hotel opened a bit further west, in 1907. By 1908 the Merchant’s Bank had taken over the premises, and had leased upper floor offices to a variety of mostly medical tenants: an osteopath, two physicians, an auditor, a specialist (Dr Joseph Gibbs, who had moved from Victoria and became BC’s senior surgeon), and Madame M Leo’s massage parlor. Over the next few years some tenants changed, with more real estate related businesses, then in 1912, everything changed again. The Montreal-based Merchants Bank hired the locally-based established architectural firm of Somervell and Putnam to design a new building. It was stone clad, in a classical temple style, but on a steel frame that could have permitted several more floors to be added. However, the economic downturn and the westwards shift of the city’s businesses meant it has never been increased in height.

Once the rail tracks were removed in 1932, a small park, officially Pioneer Place bur also known as Pioneer Square, or Pigeon Park was created. Unloved and unoccupied (on the upper floors) for many years, the building was in a very poor state a few years ago, with ornamental stonework crashing onto the park. Restoration to new office use has been slowly proceeding for some time, and the building should once again contribute to a rapidly revitalizing neighbourhood.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 677-27

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Posted December 14, 2017 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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