Archive for the ‘L T Alden’ Tag

Vancouver Auditorium – West Georgia Street

The Vancouver Auditorium – or Georgia Auditorium – initially the Denman Auditorium – was built in front of the Vancouver Arena and opposite the Horse Show Building (which had by then become the Stanley Park Armories) in 1927. It was developed by the Patrick family’s Vancouver Arena Co, and it didn’t have an architect design it, but an engineer, L T Alden and cost $60,000 to build. Frank and Lester Patrick built the 2,500 seat building to promote shows that were too small for the cavernous Arena, next door. In its early days, there were boxing and wrestling matches, (as there had been in the Horse Show Building early in its life) and rallies and political meetings. The Arena was destroyed in a huge fire in 1936, but although damaged, the Auditorium continued in operation.

During World War II, it was taken over by the Canadian Navy and was temporarily used as a storage facility by Boeing Aircraft. The Palomar Supper Club owner Hymie Singer returned from the war, and bought the Denman Auditorium and Arena site apparently intending to build a new Arena (but that was never pursued). He promoted shows in the Auditorium: in 1948 jazz vocalist Kenny Hagood brought his show to town, in 1949 the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, and in 1950 violinist Jascha Heifetz performed. The building was renovated as a concert venue in 1952, renamed the Georgia Auditorium, and the mix of shows, rallies and large meetings continued. Dave Brubeck played in 1953, as did Charlie Parker and Ella Fitzgerald. She returned in 1955, and Jascha Heifetz again played the venue.

In 1957 a ‘who’s who’ of contemporary music appeared. The Province critic’s review was less than enthusiastic: “The young patrons, the great majority in the 15-year-old bracket, sat through two hours of brash musical noises highlighted by Fats Domino. The first show started at about 7 p.m. and the Auditorium was cleared to allow another show to go on at 9:30 p.m. The Audience was amazingly well behaved as special duty policemen patrolled the aisles. Guitarist Buddy Knox, who rose to fame with a record called “Party Doll” did three songs and was well received.” That same year both Ella Fitzgerald and Dave Brubeck returned their tours to the auditorium.

A year later Sir John Gielgud appeared in a world tour of “Shakespear’s Ages of Man”, and also in 1958 operatic soprano Lily Pons performed. The venue closed in 1959, with the opening of the new civic theatres Downtown, with the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and The Playhouse offering a much better (and more comfortable) customer experience. This image was taken that year, with a sign offering ‘This Valuable Corner Property For Sale’. By August it had been demolished, and the site sat for many years. Various residential tower schemes were proposed, some by local developers, one by a New York developer, but none found acceptance. Eventually residential buildings were allowed further east, and this became a park that joins into Stanley Park known as Devonian Harbour Park after the Calgary charitable foundation that donated $600,000 to move the project forward.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1123-6

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Posted 16 September 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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