Archive for the ‘McCarter and Nairne’ Tag

Kenmore Apartments – Gilford Street

The Kenmore Apartments have been on the 1000 block of Gilford, in the West End, for over 90 years. The building was designed by McCarter and Nairne, better known for their commercial buildings (including the Marine Building) than residential projects. The building was supposedly completed in 1926, and has 32 rental apartments. This 1943 image suggests the stucco didn’t perform too well on what was a relatively new building, and since then the cornice (which was never tremendously prominent) has been lost.

During the 1950s Malcolm Lowry and his wife Margerie would winter here, when it was too uncomfortable to live in his squatter shack on the North Shore. The proximity of the bar of the Hotel  Sylvia was no doubt an attraction. The Kenmore was also home to Colonel E S Davidson, a retired widower in his 80s and owner of Tippie, a Yorkshire terrier who got her own obituary in the local newspaper when she died in 1940, aged 19. There’s more about the Colonel (and Tippie) on westendvancouver.

There was a house here before the apartments were developed. It was addressed as 1900 Comox, and completed around 1906 when J A McCrossan was the first occupant, described as an ‘inspector’ in 1906 (actually he was the city’s electrical inspector), and manager of  B C Dental Supply Co in 1908. This was apparently a short-lived move; In 1907, he had resigned his position as the city electrician so that he could become manager of the new company. It appears that he reconsidered this approach, because after 1909 he continued to be the city electrician for another four years. There’s more on him, also at westendvancouver.

The first time The Kenmore appears in a street directory was in 1928, so there seems to have been a delay in completion. Even at that point twelve of the apartments were vacant. The agents for leasing the building were Macaulay Nicolls Maitland & Co Ltd. Today there’s never a problem in filling a vacancy.


Posted March 30, 2017 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, West End

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YMCA – Burrard Street

YMCA Burrard

The Burrard Street YMCA looks as good today as it did when it was built in 1940. That’s because it’s a restored façade with a new structure behind it, and a child care on the top. We saw a glimpse of the building in an earlier post. Fortunately, when it came to redeveloping the building a few years ago there was a natural break in the Barclay Street frontage that allowed the residential tower and new gym and swimming pool to fit in behind without overwhelming the retained brick building. Our ‘before’ image is from 1981, and the building was already starting to show its age. By the early 2000s there was a definite need to renew, and ideally replace the building’s facilities.

The 1940 building was at least the third YMCA in the city and was designed by McCarter & Nairne, ten years after their Marine Building. The ‘Y’ was a much more modest building, but one that still had some robust moderne modeling within the limited budget. In 2003 Stantec Architects (and subsequently Endall Elliot) designed the replacement which had slightly less space for the YMCA than the original, but includes a pool, gymnasium, racquet courts, health studios, support facilities, and also a licensed Child Day Care Facility, including a family and child development centre, on the fifth and sixth floors. Concert Properties built the 42 floor project and sold the residential tower above, named ‘Patina’.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W18.13

Posted August 31, 2015 by ChangingCity in Altered, West End

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Georgia Street from Dunsmuir

Georgia from Dunsmuir

We’re looking across the street, almost due south from Dunsmuir Street. It’s 1981, and work is starting on the site hoardings for Daon Development Corporation’s Park Place office tower. It will be big; taking the developable floorspace from Christ Church (on the site next door) allowing a restoration of the cathedral while preserving and enhancing the surrounding are with a park and water feature. To the left of the third Hotel Vancouver is the back of the Georgia Medical Dental Building. Initially the plans for spending some of the $17m involved some quite contemporary changes designed by Busby Bridger (including a glass roof), but ultimately the historic structure remained unchanged.

The Medical Dental building was a McCarter and Nairne designed art deco fifteen storey office building completed in 1929. It was the first office building to include a parking garage, and was full of physicians and dentists. Interestingly, the 1930 street directory showed there were a few other tenants besides over 150 doctors – the College of Physicians and Surgeons and the College of Dentists each had their offices there, but there was also the International Club of Vancouver, the BC Dental Supply Co and both clinical and x-ray labs.

The website for its replacement says “opened in 1991, Cathedral Place was developed through a joint venture with Sir Run Run Shaw of Hong Kong under the company name of Shon Georgia Investments Ltd. With the formation of this new corporate group, Mr. Shon saw an opportunity to realize a long-time dream of his father, Charles Shon, to redevelop the Georgia Medical-Dental Building site creating an enduring architectural landmark. The celebrated and respected architect, Paul Merrick, was asked to head the design team. The office Tower is now known as Shaw Tower at Cathedral Place.” Given the more recent completion of an entirely different tower called the Shaw Tower, it’s no surprise that the replacement is generally known as Cathedral Place. The office is still owned by Shon Group Realty.

Early versions of the scheme were designed by Adrian Smith of Skidmore Owings Merrill of Chicago. Heritage Vancouver’s newsletter at the time described it as having “a kind of 1920s or 1930s stepped back Skyscraper Gothic style“, which is pretty much what the Merrick design has as well.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives  CVA 779-W04.35

Posted November 3, 2014 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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400 Burrard Street

400 Burrard 1Here’s the south-east corner of Burrard and West Hastings (looking east) in 1974. The simple, modern looking 2-storey building was occupied by the Bank of British Columbia. We’re reasonably sure this was a McCarter and Nairne design from 1949 for Burrard Building Operations Ltd. In 1952 it was called the Burrard Building (the name was moved once the new much bigger building was completed a few years later to the south). The early tenants included stock brokers and insurance companies, including the Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. The bank show occupying the building in 1974 was the second business with that name, and they were entirely unrelated. The first bank premises are still standing, and we featured them earlier in the life of this blog. The second bank was the creation of W A C Bennett in 1966, designed to allow more local control for making decisions on loans to BC businesses. By the mid 1980s there were $2.7bn in funds and over 1,400 employees, but serious management problems led to the bank being absorbed in 1986 by the Hong Kong Bank of Canada (today’s HSBC).

Across the lane to the south the edge of the first Bentall Building can be seen – a five-storey concrete building that was the first substantial office to be built in the city after the Second World War, in the early 1950s. It was almost certainly designed by Bentall’s Dominion Construction, probably with input from Charles Bentall.

Today it’s Commerce Place, a silver reflective office complex designed by Waisman Dewar Grout Carter and completed 30 years ago.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives  CVA 778-15

701 Main Street

Main & Georgia

We’re got used to gas stations closing over the past few years, but it’s not a new phenomenon. This Standard gas bar was closed nearly 70 years ago. It was also not the first building on the site – in fact it wasn’t even the second. In 1912 the Avenue Theatre replaced two cottages on this site, but in 1935 this Standard Oil gas station was listed in the street directory. Standard Oil of Califonia entered the Canadian market in 1935 when Standard Oil Co. of British Columbia was launched in a two-room suite of the Hotel Vancouver. That same year the company expanded quickly by purchasing local oil distribution companies, acquiring service stations, establishing dealerships, starting a new refinery and acquiring a tanker, the B.C. Standard. Townley and Metheson designed several gas stations for the company in their first year, and this is listed as one of their projects, station #2.

Like the theatre, the gas station didn’t last very long. By 1945 the BC Electric Company had acquired the site for a new sub-station that was named after the company’s President, W G Murrin. The power distributed from Murrin supplied the entire downtown area and for many years there was a smaller adjacent building that fed power to the city’s electric trolley buses.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives, photographer Walter E Frost, CVA 447-47

Devonshire Hotel – West Georgia Street

Devonshire Hotel

It took two years to build, and when it was first completed in 1925 the Devonshire was the big kid on the block. It soon became far less significant as the Hotel Georgia was built to the east two years later and the Georgia Medical Dental Building (by the same architects as the Devonshire) to the west two years after that; both several storeys taller. It wasn’t really a hotel at that point, but rather an apartment hotel. It was designed by McCarter Nairne early in their career and set them on the road to success and even bigger buildings (especially the Marine Building).

Kingsway @ Clark 1931The Devonshire advertised for tenants – here’s a billboard at Clark and Kingsway from 1931. In 1930 there were engineers, a stenographer, clerks and a seamstress – but the directory also shows there were nearly as many maids and other staff (including two telephone operators) working there as there were tenants, suggesting it was already more of a hotel than an apartment building. The hotel advertisement said it was “Canada’s Finest Apartment Hotel” with “Modern and luxuriously comfortable Kitchenette suites and Hotel rooms, all with bath . . . just a few minutes walk from the stations, waterfront, and the glorious Stanley Park.” The hotel offered free telephone service, and charged $3.50 for a single and $5 and up for a double.

In the early 1930s the manager was T Karl De Morest, who also ran the Devonshire Cafe, while the Devonshire Cab Service was run by Messrs Brown and Walker. DeMorest could well be Thomas DeMorest, born in the USA and living as a child in the Okanagan in 1911. In 1937, quite early in his career, CBK Van Norman designed alterations and additions to the building, almost certainly when it became simply a hotel.

Hotel Georgia, Devonshire & Dental MedicalThe Devonshire was never a huge success, overshadowed by the grander Hotel Georgia and Hotel Vancouver, but it had a popular bar. Our image shows it in 1974, but this earlier postcard shows the relationship to its neighbours. In 1977 Eleni Skalbania took the hotel on and managed to generate a profit before moving on to the Hotel Georgia. In July 1981 at 7.05 am the hotel was imploded with the help of 100 lbs of high explosive – (you can find the video on youtube)

Not long after the dust settled, many publications will tell you that work began on building the HSBC Bank Canada building. That isn’t completely accurate, what was really being built was the Bank of BC Tower designed by Webb Zerafa Menkès Housden Partnership. The second bank to bear the title (the first having disappeared in 1901) it was founded in 1966, the creation of Premier W A C Bennett. By 1986, following financial difficulties arising from poor management, HSBC was allowed to rescue the company. It’s a post-modern stumpy block covered in granite supplied from Quebec. A huge internal public atrium is lined with granite from South Dakota – over two billion years old – featuring Alan Storey’s ‘Broken Column’ pendulum artwork.

Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-30

West Cordova and Seymour – se corner (1)

This 1973 image shows the St Francis Hotel on the west side of the street, and on the opposite side of Seymour, Clarke and Stuart’s printer’s store and warehouse. Clarke and Stuart occupied the building from when it was built for them in 1906 (to Grant and Henderson’s design) until 1920, when Spencer’s took it over. The rest of the block was also occupied by various iterations of David Spencer’s department store. The next building to the east is a Thomas Hooper designed 1911 addition to the larger building he designed a few years earlier next door to the east. The much bigger building beyond that is McCarter and Nairne’s 1925 massive expansion of the Spencer store.

Clarke and Stuart had been located further east on Cordova from before the turn of the century, operating as a bookstore but also selling typewriters, pianos and organs.  Their former building had a makeover at some point, losing the cornices and details, but apparently retaining the original windows.

David Spencer, a Welshman, arrived in Canada just slightly too late to join the Cariboo gold-rush and instead bought the Victoria Library, a stationers and bookshop,  in 1864. Following the success of that he partnered with William Denny to buy ‘The Victoria House’, a dry goods store in 1873, and five years later a new store under his own name. In the 1890s he bought a site on Hastings street for a location in Vancouver but a rival, Drysdale-Stevenson Company built a store on an adjacent site before he was able to develop his own building. Spencer acquired his rival’s business in 1905, and immediately built a $150,000 expansion. The store had immediate  success in Vancouver, and the Spencer company and Charles Woodward out-competed each other to add new extensions and departments year after year.

In the mid 1970s the Harbour Centre was built to replace Spencer’s store (which had been taken over by Eatons in 1948, and who then vacated to the new Pacific Centre Mall). The building was designed by Toronto-based Webb Zerafa Menkes Housden Partnership (who had also designed the CN tower at around the same time). The 1920s part of the Spencer’s store was incorporated into the building, which these days also includes the Downtown campus of Simon Fraser University.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-379