Archive for the ‘Joseph Tomlin’ Tag

Richards Street – 700 block, east side (2)

We looked at the buildings to the north of here in the previous post. Here are several modest buildings, of which two (for now) are still standing. On the left is a three storey commercial building, 726 Richards, built in 1923 by B C Stevens Co. They were a medical supply company who had operated in the city for many years, and more accurately they were the Stevens (B.C.) Company Limited. Before they developed this building they were based in the main floor of the Passlin block, three doors down the street. The company opened its first office in Western Canada in 1889 in Vancouver under the direction of George Stevens, a son of the founder of the business. The Contract Record of 1 August 1923 referenced that “Work is to start at once on a store and warehouse, to cost $20,000, at 730-748 Richards St.; owners, B. C. Stevens Co Ltd., Vancouver; architect, Franklin Cross, 448 Seymour St., Vancouver”. The address was a bit inaccurate; the building permit identifies 730 Richards. It’s possible that the single storey 738 Richards was part of the same development – the two structures share a single lot. Next door at 742 Richards was another single storey commercial building. In 1920 owner A L Hood hired A E Henderson to carry out alterations to the property there costing $2,500, but we don’t know if the single storey building is the result of that investment, or a later development.

The four storey building on the right of the picture (748 Richards) was developed by Albert J Passage and Oliver Tomlin (hence Passlin). Albert was President of the Western Canada Trust Company, worth over $300,000 before its collapse in 1913. He was an American, born in Clairmont, Minnesota, and he moved to Canada in 1892. In 1901 was in Yale, working as a clerk in the railroad office. In 1909 he was in Vancouver, working as an accountant for the Great Northern Transfer Co. His success in real estate was fast; he only formed the Financial and Real estate brokerage with Oliver Tomlin around 1910. By 1911 he was living with his wife Mary, from New Brunswick, their 3-year-old son, Victor, her father, Goodwin Passage, and her brother, Ray Passage.

With the collapse of the real estate business, and a war hitting the national economy, Albert, Mary and their son emigrated to the USA in 1916. By 1930 they were living in Mount Vernon, Westchester, New York, and had another son, Douglas, aged 8, who had been born in New York.

We’re reasonably certain Oliver Tomlin was from England, although he appears to have been missed in the 1911 Census. He shows up in Vancouver around 1908, when he was a shipper with the Albion Iron Works. A year later Passage and Tomlin were in the real estate business, with a series of permits for houses, and just one in 1910 for a larger building, this four storey apartment building on Richards, costing $35,000 and designed by W M Dodd. They sold their development to a real estate syndicate they had put together, with significant British money involved (shown by this article in the London Daily Standard from 1911). The headline shows that property bubbles are not new in the city.

By 1911 Oliver Tomlin was living in the Atlin Block on West Pender. The building in our image was known as the Passlin Hotel. (Given the conjunction of the names for this building, it seems a reasonable conjecture that Mr. Tomlin might have also developed the Atlin Block with a different partner). In 1917 Oliver Tomlin, and his English wife Louisa also emigrated to The USA, and in 1930 were living in Los Angeles. We’re reasonably confident this is the same Mr. Tomlin who was working as the Manager of a Real Estate Finance Company (and that’s why we think he was originally English)’

The Passlin block was demolished and redeveloped in 2007 as part of the L’Hermitage development which also has a hotel, two-storey retail and a condo tower. The Passlin, which was operating as an SRO hotel, was redeveloped as Doug Story Apartment residences, with 46 units managed by Coast Mental Health, named after an SRO resident who was a member of the Coast Resource Centre from 2001 until his death in 2006. The City of Vancouver made a small grant (of $720,000) to help fund the building, but most of the capital cost was carried by the developers, who received additional residential density for the tower. They then gave the building to the City of Vancouver as an air right parcel.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E09.36

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