Archive for the ‘John Vermilyea’ Tag

Vermilyea Block No.2 – 869 Granville Street

Vermilyea #2

We have already seen John Vermilyea’s other building on Granville Street, built four years before this one. In 1893 William Blackmore designed this ornately detailed 3-storey building. We already noted that John Vermilyea was one of the earlier settlers in the area, arriving from Ontario in 1876 and running a farm in Richmond. His family could trace their origins back to Leyden in Holland, but Johannes Vermelje, a brewer, was married in New York City in 1670.

869 Granville 1904 VPLJohn Cronk Vermilyea was born in Belleview (or Thurlow) in Ontario in around 1829, married quite late in life (he was still living at home with his parents when he was aged 31) and moved to the Vancouver area in 1883 (when he would have been in his 50s). He farmed 600 acres on Lulu Island, growing hay, and then mortgaged the farm to build the Granville Street buildings. But Granville Street developed slowly, and the CPR controlled the prime site further north, so the boom didn’t reach the 800 and 900 blocks until later, after Mr Vermilyea had lost his farm through his inability to make the mortgage payments in 1896. By 1904 MacKay and Almond were running their ice cream business here, as this VPL image shows

J C Vermilyea died in 1913, the year that this building was converted to the Palms Hotel, with design work being carried out by F W Macey, an English architect who was living in Burnaby (and who lost everything that same year when his new house burned down while it was being built). F T Andrews was the owner (and he was living here in 1917), and Elsie Savan was the proprietor of the hotel operation for a couple of years (before apparently moving to Oregon, being replaced by Mrs M J Skinner). The hotel use continued through to the 1960s, when this image was taken, but in the 1980s the Palms was demolished, although the facade was restored and incorporated into the new Odeon Cinema. Now it’s about to become a stand alone building again, as the cinema has closed and will be restored as three separate buildings.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-785

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Vermilyea Block No. 1 – 927 Granville Street

Built in 1889, this is one of the oldest buildings on Granville Street. It was designed by William Blackmore for John Vermilyea, who had moved from Ontario to farm on Lulu Island (the main island of Richmond). He was one of the few Quakers in the city at the time (and the only one on Lulu Island, where he led a service every Sunday). He mortgaged the farm, built two buildings on Granville Street, and waited for the city to grow in his direction. But by 1901 there was still 100 feet of vacant land on either side – and nothing across the street – his idea was good but his timing wasn’t, and he lost the farm in 1896 when he couldn’t keep up with his mortgage payments. He had arrived from Ontario with his family including his son, Walter, who was living in this building in 1894 when his middle daughter, Ada, was born, and was still there in 1896 when her sister Frances was born.

By 1925, as the photograph shows, Bert Love had become the tenant of the store, running Love’s Cafe until 1942 when his sons took over as Love’s Skillet. Upstairs was residential. Back in the 1890s, as well as Walter Vermilyea the tenants included Mrs Sam Greer. Presumably Sam was away – he was locked up for shooting a constable when he was being evicted from the 160 acres he had bought (including Kitsilano Beach), but which he was kicked off without compensation (but not without as fight – including 3 court cases that he won while failing to get either title or compensation).

These days the building still looks good, housing a bar, sports goods store and upstairs a dance studio as well – a conversion from housing back in 1975.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-3050

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