Archive for the ‘N S Hoffar’ Tag

Ellesmere Rooms – West Pender and Homer

The Ellesmere Rooms were unusual because they weren’t clad in fireproof materials, even in the 1940s, although that was the what the fire by-law generally required. The Ellesmere had been around a long time – the name was on the 1912 insurance maps, but it was noted as ‘formerly Douglas House’ in the Archives, and in 1901 it was shown as ‘Elesmere – Boarding’ and was three storeys on Pender and two behind.

The Ellesmere Rooms were described in J. S. Matthews Early Vancouver (Vol. I), 1932 as ”a tall wooden building…which is now used for cheap stores and offices. It was the first large ‘boarding house.” In 1889 it was Douglas House, run by Mrs. J M Douglas. The census shows that Mrs. J M Douglas was a 45-year-old widow in 1891, born in the USA, but not long after that entry she seems to have disappeared from the city. In the 1891 census there are a series of names associated with 439 Homer, headed by F Yorke, Stevedore. There’s a picture from 1890 (or thereabouts) that shows Mr. Yorke on the porch of the premises, on the hill of Homer Street. (He’s third from left, wearing the derby hat). He wasn’t just a stevedore, he ran a stevedoring company in Moodyville, across the inlet. By 1901 he had married, had moved to Victoria, and was a master mariner, with a tugboat business.

The other residents of the building had a variety of jobs, including clerks, a real estate agent, the manager of the BC Iron Works and Monsignor L’Abbe LaChasse. Alterations were carried out to the premises around this period, designed by N S Hoffar.

In 1894 it has become Elsmere House, and in 1896 Elesmere House, shown as being run by  Mrs. L Walsh. A year later it is listed as the Ellesmere, which is how the spelling stays, run by Mrs. Welsh. In the 1901 census Mrs. Loirisa Welsh was aged 60, a widow, still running the Ellesmere rooms with her daughter, Florence, who was 20. Mrs. Welsh had arrived in Canada in 1888, but her daughter arrived 5 years later; both were born in England. Mrs. Welsh had ten lodgers, including Emma Shand, a photographer and Stanley Kirby, a rancher.

At some point after the 1890 picture the entire building was lifted up so that retail stores could be inserted along Homer and Pender Streets. This looks to have been done in the later 1920s, although there seem to have been addresses here in office use earlier than that period.

This image is said to have been shot in 1948. On the corner you could leave your films for processing at the newsagents and tobacconist that had been Bert’s Cigar Box since the early 1930s. There was a watchmaker next door, on West Pender, and a laundry to the north, along Homer Street. In between was a locksmith, ‘Garry’s Lockeyist Shop’, while to the north was the Hollywood Café, and Lacey’s Sign Works. Those businesses were located here in the 1930s, and were here in 1940, but rapidly closed during the war. The Ellesmere Rooms name disappeared after 1938 when it was listed as vacant, and from the look of the building, and the window boxes, we think this was more likely taken in 1938, not 1948. In 1943 it was reported that a city inspector had condemned the building as a boarding house. The shops were still occupied in the building in 1950, though you can see a for sale sign on the building in a Walter Frost image taken that year, and the boarding house looks to be in a pretty poor state. There was a parking lot here for many years once the building was removed, and then in 1993 Central City Lodge was built, offering 112 rooms of supportive housing with 24 hour care and a meal service.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P642 and Bu P141

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Posted November 5, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Hastings Street Court House (2)

We looked at an image of this Courthouse building a couple of years ago, but from Pender Street, looking down the hill of Cambie. Here’s a postcard from around 1908 of the north face of the building, facing West Hastings. This shows N S Hoffar’s 1893 Provincial Courthouse addition – although it was actually twice as big as the original (and more modest) building designed by T C Sorby in 1889 and completed in 1890, which was located closer to Pender Street. From this angle, that building sitting behind the addition, almost hidden by trees but just showing on the left. On the right is a picture of the building in 1890. The maple trees on the Pender Street frontage are among the oldest in the city, planted in 1897.

Once the new courthouse was completed a few years later, on West Georgia, there was some debate about what to do with the old building. Despite its impressive appearance in the postcard, as a May 1909 Daily World letter suggests, not everybody was in love with the building. “With regard to the court house itself, they all knew it was one of the most disgraceful buildings that existed in the province. It was more or less in a foul and filthy condition all the time, but no blame could be attached to the officials. It was simply an incommodious and inconvenient building. Certainly it had been a standing menace to the health of the judges, juries and officials generally.”

Mayor Douglas suggested it might make a good City Hall, but the general view seems to have been that it wasn’t big enough (and presumably letters like the one above also had some influence). Instead it was decided to clear the structure and create an open space, which was named Government Square. During the first World War the site was used as a recruiting office, with a number of tents and temporary buildings. An Evangelical Tabernacle was also created as a temporary structure in 1917. The park was given the name Victory Square in 1922 and two years later the Cenotaph, designed by G L Sharp, was built through public subscription.

Image source (1890 image) City of Vancouver Archives Bu P390

Posted April 3, 2017 by ChangingCity in Gone, Victory Square

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Davis Chambers – West Hastings Street

600-w-hastings

This substantial office building was designed by Dalton & Eveleigh in 1905 for E P Davis. This 1974 image shows the Philippine Creations store and the Green Parrot Café on the main floor. The only office advertising on its window is for F Gorlich, Foot Specialist.

615-w-hastings

painless-parkerFor many years this was the home of Vancouver’s most flamboyantly advertised dentist – ‘Painless Parker’. Although there really was a ‘Painless Parker’ – a dentist who changed his name from Edgar so he didn’t fall foul of the advertising authorities, he didn’t personally carry out the extractions or fillings here.

An American, he had a chain of dental offices, with this location in Vancouver operating from the 1930s to past 1950. At 1940 prices of $1 for extractions and $2 for a filling he amassed quite a fortune – By the early 1950s Parker had 28 West Coast dental offices, employing over 70 dentists, and grossing $3 million per year.

On the ground floor of this 1940 image was a store frontage for Famous Cloak and Suit Co, shared with the building to the west, the Leland Hotel Annex. As we noted in an earlier post, the building had the 1887 façade designed by N S Hoffar replaced by 1943. That in turn was obscured with the windowless sheet steel shown in the 1974 image above.

davisE P Davis, who developed the 1905 building was an Ontario-born lawyer; a partner in Davis, Marshall & Macneil, Barristers and Solicitors, based in his new building although later moving to the London Building. He was called to the bar in Calgary in 1882, and in British Columbia in 1886 when he arrived here. He lived on Seaton Street and was unanimously recommended for the Chief Justiceship British Columbia in 1902 (a postion he declined, as he had previously in 1898). Owner of a spectacular moustache, he was legal counsel to the Canadian Pacific Railway, and also a Director of Royal Collieries, Ltd. In 1912 he built a mansion designed by Samuel MacLure, on extensive grounds near the tip of Point Grey. Davis named it “Kanakla,” a West Coast native word meaning ‘house on the cliff’. Now part of UBC, it was renamed Cecil Green Park.

The Davis Chambers were replaced in 1981 by the 11 storey ‘Princess Building’. That will be the baby on the block in future if the two towers proposed for either side of it get built. There’s a 25 storey tower proposed for the east side, on the corner of Seymour, and a 28 storey office proposed to the west, on the site once occupied by the Leland Hotel Annex.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-158 and Bu P294

Posted January 12, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Crown Hotel – Cordova Street

Cordova west from Carrall 2

We’ve looked at the history of the Boulder Hotel (on the right) some years ago, and we looked at it again more recently. On the corner on the left is the Rainier Hotel – we also looked at the history of this building several years ago. Beyond is one of the oldest buildings in the city – and certainly the grandest of the city’s early buildings; the Dunn – Miller Block. We’ve looked at parts of it in various posts – the buildings removed to build it in 1889 were featured here, and we’ve seen odd bits of the façade, like Clarke & Stuart’ s store in 1898, as well as how it looked in the 1960s. Here’s how it looked in 1990.

1912 Goad map Crown HotelThe Dunn – Miller block, it turns out, wasn’t really a complete building – more a unified façade designed by N S Hoffar, with a variety of businesses adding their own premises behind. A good example of this is the Crown Hotel, that occupied 75 feet of façade slightly to the west of the central portion of the block in 1912, as this extract from the Goad’s insurance map shows. It was numbered as 22-28 Cordova Street. Before 1911 there was a hotel called the Crown here;  when the building was first completed in 1889 all the retail units were occupied, and there were few tenants listed on upper floors (including a real estate office and a barrister at 44 Cordova). By 1892 it looks as if 22 Cordova was in residential use – it’s difficult to imagine why a streetcar conductor would have an office here.

In 1894 John Decker was running the Crown Saloon on Carrall Street. Two years later it was listed as the Crown Hotel, but reverted to the Crown Saloon two years after that. From 1907 the Crown Hotel is listed at this address, still run by John Decker. John was originally from Germany, arriving in Canada in 1886. His wife Alice was American, and their three children, John, Willie and Alice were all born in BC. In 1909 Mrs Alma Peterson’s jewellery store was on the main floor at 26 and Zarelli’s confectionary store at 26 1/2 (replaced by the Imperial Restaurant in 1910) and Joseph Sudmin’s clothing store at 28.

In 1911 the hotel was rebuilt at a cost of $30,000; accordiung to the building permit it was designed by ‘F Gardner’ – actually Francis Gardiner, brother of architect W F Gardiner. The owner at the time was a surprise to us; a Chinese businessman, Lung Kee. It’s likely that this was L O Kee who also imported dry goods at an East Hastings address. In 1912 the street directory shows the Crown Hotel being run by Alfd Manson, prop, 22-24 Cordova W. The bartender was Hans Christian, who lived in the Stanley Hotel (across the street). John Decker had moved on to run the Traveller’s Hotel on Abbott Street with A Burr, and was living on Haro Street in the West End.

A Lung family household of at least 7 members residing in Vancouver was recorded in the 1901 census. The head of household, Kee Lung, was born in China in 1851. The census identified his heritage as Chinese and showed he immigrated to Canada 27 years prior in 1874 when he was 23 years old. By 1901, at the age of 50, he had an occupation that was recorded as “Store Keeper”. Kee’s wife was Kee Mary Lung, who was 30 years old. Mary was born in China in 1870. Also identifying her heritage as Chinese, she immigrated to Canada in 1884 (when she would have been 14 years old). There were five children, 4 boys and a girl. In 1889 their eldest child, a boy named Mahie, was born. One year later, in 1890, when Kee was 39 years old and Kee Mary was 20 years old their second son, Man King, was born. In 1892 their daughter, Kee Ma Han, was born followed in 1898 by Malang, a boy and in 1901 by another son, Mashe. In 1901 the Lung family children’s ages were 3, 5, 8, 10, and 11 years.

The Crown stayed in business for many years, but reverted to offering managed rooms rather than a full service hotel. From time to time the building continued to have Chinese connections – either in terms of the café downstairs, or who ran the hotel. In 1919 it was listed as the Crown Hotel Rooms, run by K Kawano, while the bar was run by S Swaboda. Two years later the rooms were run by Samuel Riardan, and two years after that, C Hiraki. Although the hotel continues to be listed, there’s no proprietor associated with it. By 1926 the bar wasn’t mentioned, but there was a Crown Café, (Chinese) run by John Hing. In 1930 K Kosaka was running the Hotel Rooms, and the Beer Parlour was shown as being back in business at 28 W Cordova with J Shelling and A Didinsky running the bar. The Crown Café was now the Sunset Café, shown at the same address. At 22, J Grimaldi was running the Crown Jewelry store.

The depression seems to have had an affect on the businesses: in 1934 the Rooms were still operating but the jewelers had become Crown Tailors, selling second hand clothing, and the bar isn’t mentioned, although the Sunset Café is still being run by Jon Hing. In 1939 K Kosaka is still running the rooms, but the café had become the Golden Café, run by Sam Wong. During the war the Café became the Victory Café – a bit premature in 1942. No longer Chinese, it was run by G Maystovich. Mrs K Kosaka was running the Crown Hotel Rooms. By the end of the war, everything changed again. The Cansino Hotel, run by Mann Kuan and Wo Joon is shown at 24 W Cordova, and Harvey’s Boot Factory had occupied 28. We saw that business located a bit further up the street in an earlier post. The Cansino was still in business with one of the same owners a decade later, (M and S Kuan and C T Chan).

The Army and Navy store restored elements of the Classical-style façade in a remodelling of the entire store completed in 1974 that extends to Hastings Street (with a lane still bisecting the upper floors of the store).

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-427

Posted March 14, 2016 by ChangingCity in Altered, East End

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The Yale and Cecil Hotels – Granville Street

Yale & Rolston

We looked at the Yale Hotel, one of the earliest buildings on Granville Street, in an earlier post. It was designed by N S Hoffar in 1889 as the Colonial hotel for J W Horne. As part of the development that saw the Cecil replaced with the Rolston condo tower, the Yale was seismically upgraded and the SRO rooms refurbished and handed over to the City of Vancouver for long-term retention.

It’s neighbour, the Cecil, managed to limp past its 100th birthday. Obviously the news of the redevelopment hasn’t reached Wego.com, who will still try to book you in to what they claim is a three star hotel. “The Cecil Hotel is perfectly located for both business and leisure guests to Vancouver (BC). All hotel’s guestrooms have all the conveniences expected in a hotel in its class to suit guests’ utmost comforts. Room amenities include shower. This hotel is characterized by a combination of modern comfort and traditional element of Vancouver (BC), making it a distinct accommodation. To make your reservation at the The Cecil Hotel quick and easy, please select your preferred dates of stay and proceed with our secure online booking form.” As an increasingly tired SRO, any guests who had succeeded in booking into the hotel would have been surprised at the hotel and it’s surroundings. Another website identifies what the booking site overlooked – and still promises more than they’ve been able to deliver for over four years “The Cecil Hotel is Vancouver’s premier exotic show lounge, featuring a prime selection of Western Canada’s hottest nude dancers. At The Cecil, showing you a great time, is our great time, so we hand pick the wildest, sexiest, most fun lov’n girls on the planet to go crazy on stage every single night for you (we don’t mind so much either!). So if you’re in the Vancouver area, and you’re looking for the hottest strippers, the best wings, burgers and ribs, and the wildest time allowed by law, come on down to The Cecil Hotel. You’ll be blown away!”

Cecil Hotel 1912 Vancouver HeritageSince the construction of the ‘new’ Granville Bridge in the early 1950s the hotel had lost its front door; (you can see how it looked before the bridge was built on this 1912 Heritage Vancouver picture) – the entrance was moved around the corner from the street, with the bar entrance a storey below, accessed from a parking lot. The hotel was built in 1909, and although looking remarkably like one of the many hotels designed by Parr and Fee along Granville Street in a very few years, this one was designed by Grant & Henderson for Mrs. O B Grant and S Burris at a cost of $30,000. A 1910 $500 permit was taken out for an additional steel and glass canopy. It’s possible it was the same location where in 1908 a three storey building was planned, designed for S Burris by Grant and Henderson.

The Hotel Cecil was being run in 1910 by Charles M Hartney, who had taken over from John McDade who ran it in 1909 (the first year it appears in a directory). Then a chance reference to a new building permit listed in the 1908 Contract Journal clarified: “Mrs. O. B. Grant, brick store and rooming house, Granville street, $30,000.” Olive Grant was G W Grant’s wife. George Grant was half of Grant & Henderson: they were both originally from Nova Scotia.

The Grant’s were early arrivals in British Columbia. George was born in 1852 or 1854, and Olive Burris in 1852. They were married at her father’s house in 1876 at Upper Musquodoboit. After their marriage they made their home at Maitland, N. S. where they lived for three or four years. Mr. Grant was a contractor and builder and while in Maitland he was engaged in building houses. They sold up in 1880, and while his wife, in poor health, returned to Nova Scotia, George went west to Winnipeg which was experiencing a building boom. There he became a successful architect, designing several buildings including a branch of the Bank of Montreal. In 1886 they moved further west – apparently looking at, but initially rejecting the fledgling Vancouver for Victoria, where as an architect he secured several important commissions, before moving again to New Westminster. In 1892 their niece, Janie Arthur moved in with them, and in 1896 they moved to Vancouver.

G W Grant designed dozens of buildings in the fast-growing city, including the Carnegie library, and added a partner to his business, Alexander Henderson, in 1903. They continued to design buildings across the city, including the Hotel Cecil (presumably purely an investment, in the ownership of Mr. Grant’s wife, and her relative, Samuel Burris). In 1912, when they were both aged 60 and the city’s economy was stalling, the family moved to Pasadena in 1912, and on to Bellflower, California in 1916. Janie Arthur moved with them, but had her own home. George died in 1925 and Olive in 1928, and they are both buried in Riverside, California, where other members of the family had been interred.

Samuel Burris was (according to the census of 1911) from Nova Scotia. According to the street directory, he arrived in Vancouver around 1908. We don’t know if he was any relation to an architect of the same name who was from Ontario, practicing in Victoria, and moving to Vancouver in the early 1900s. When Samuel first arrived in Vancouver was shown as retired, as he was in the 1911 census when he was aged 67. In Nova Scotia he was a merchant blacksmith, operating a successful forge noted for building sledges. In 1909 he was the developer of a $15,000 rooming house at Davie and Hornby, also designed by Grant and Henderson. His last directory entry was in 1914. He was undoubtedly related to George Grant’s wife, Olive, and they jointly developed the Cecil hotel. In 1915, Mary Burris, widow of Samuel was living at the same W 8th Avenue address, as was Edith, their daughter. Mary returned to Nova Scotia, where she died in 1917.

The Cecil switched from the Hotel Cecil to the Cecil Hotel by the mid 1930s. It continued as a hotel, but by 1935 there were a number of permanent residents. While the hotel became old, and tired, despite (or perhaps because of) the run-down nature of the bar, (dark, smokey and windowless according to Rex Wyler), in the 1960s it became a gathering place for journalists, environmentalists, and UBC students. In 1967 the founders of the Georgia Straight came up with the name for their new publication while drinking there, hoping to attract free publicity because radio newscasts of the era regularly issued gale warnings for the nearby body of water called the Georgia Strait. Many of the founders of Greenpeace also drank in the bar in those days.

As the Georgia Straight noted when the building was about to be demolished, as with many other bars in the city, “in the mid-1970s, the Cecil started bringing in exotic dancers, which continued up until closing night. One former dancer contacted by the Straight said that in the 1980s, the Cecil was more like Playboy magazine and the movie Flashdance, whereas the Drake and the Marr were more hard-core, like Penthouse magazine and, on a bad day, like Hustler magazine.”

Posted October 12, 2015 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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550 Granville Street

550 Granville

This modest commercial building is still standing over 100 years after it was built. We think it was in part designed by the prolific Parr and Fee partnership – that’s their trademark centre-hung windows in the 1940 Vancouver Public Library image. The tax record says the building dates from 1910, but we suspect the bones are older than that. In 1909 Parr and Fee were hired to alter the building at a cost of $7,000 – suggesting a very substantial change. Their client was listed as H Abbott. We assume this has to be the former superintendent of the Canadian Pacific Railway. Although there were other people called Abbott in the city (all called Harry) no others were likely to own a Granville Street property. There were a series of buildings that were early investments funded by CP Directors along Granville Street.

Checking the 1903 insurance map confirms this was indeed the Abbott Block. (There was also an earlier building with the same name on West Hastings Street that dates back to the 1890s). It was originally commissioned to be designed by the Fripp Brothers in 1889, the same year that a Hastings building was also built to their designs. A year earlier another Abbott Block had been built on Hastings, designed by N S Hoffar.

We saw this Granville building in context in an earlier post, but by 1940 the store fronts had been altered quite a bit. To the north at 548 the Polar Fur company had their store, and to the south in 552 were Betty’s Hat & Gown Shoppe. Maison Henri had the biggest sign, and occupied the centre unit for their beauty salon. Polar Furs were run by Conrad Matoff, while Betty’s was owned by Mrs B B Crawford. Maison Henri had been in business a long time – as early as 1910 the West Hastings store announced “TO THE LADIES OF VANCOUVER: We wish to announce to our numerous clientele the return of Mr. Henri from Europe, where he has been taking up the NESTLE PERMANENT HAIR WAVING with the inventors, C. Nestle & Co. direct. This is the new complete wave, and entirely eliminates the old home treatment of heating by hand. You should come in after the return of Mr. Henri on Thursday to see the beautifying effects. Appointments may be booked from Thursday. The beautiful wave effect will absolutely not wash out. In fact noisture only accentuates the wave. To see is to believe. Let us demonstrate. MAISON HENRI, The Premier Hair – Dressing House of Vancouver”.

By 1940 Maison Henri described themselves as Vancouver’s Oldest, Largest and Most Exclusive Beauty Salon. If exclusive implies a bit too expensive, Maison Henri could help with that; next door at 556 Granville was the “Maison Henri Ltd Annex – First Class Beauty Work at Lower Prices”.

Henri Gautschi was Swiss according to the 1935 record when he became Canadian, although his 1911 Census record and his death registration said he was French. He arrived in Canada in 1905,  and his wife May a year later. She was born in London, England, and was seven years younger than her husband. By 1911 they had a daughter, Nancy. May died in 1931, the year that Nancy emigrated to Honolulu, Hawaii (although we think she returned and married in Vancouver later). Henri died in Vancouver in 1951, having retired not long after this picture was taken; his business was contined until after the war, run by Miss A D Sutherland.

Posted August 17, 2015 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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163 West Cordova Street

163 Cordova

This retail location is seen in 1897 when it was the offices of the British Columbia Electric Railway Co. That was the year the company took over existing streetcar and interurban lines in southwestern British Columbia in 1897, and operated the electric railway systems in the region until the last interurban service was discontinued in 1958. It was created from the bankrupt Consolidated Railway and Light Company (forced into receivership due to a streetcar accident in Victoria). That company had been created from ten earlier companies – three of them also bankrupt and founded in 1890 and 1891.

The Electric Railway Co were tenants in a building that had been constructed nine years earlier, designed by N S Hoffar for Dr. Whetham – we saw the building in an earlier image.

Major Matthews identified the men as: Mr. Stein, Mr. McDonald, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Wilcock. There are three McDonalds working for the BCER – Mr McDonald is either HA McDonald who was a lineman, William McDonald who was the lamp inspector for the Electric Railway Co, or possibly Angus McDonald, the line foreman for the railway. Mr E H Willcock was a clerk for the railway company that year, although he would be a motorman in a couple of years.

We’re not sure if the identification of the other gentlemen was inaccurate, if the street directory failed to identify them, or whether they were connected in some other way with BCER (or just keen to be photographed). As far as we can tell, there were no BCER employees called Stein (although there was an accountant with an office on the 600 block of Hastings nearby). Similarly we haven’t found anyone called Jackson at BCER, but there were two businessmen on this block of Cordova, one a jeweler and the other the co-owner of the Savoy Hotel, a couple of doors to the east.

The almost windowless building that replaced Whetham’s was the first of only two buildings completed for Project 200, a massive redevelopment plan that would have seen the entire waterfront of Gastown bulldozed to create a row of towers over a waterfront freeway. This rather more modest structure was built in 1969 as the home of CNCP Telecommunications – the first serious hi-tech investment in the city, designed by Francis Donaldson and developed by Grosvenor Estates. The company was created as a joint venture between the CP and CN in 1967, merging the different networks used by the two railway companies. It became an early telecom business; was bought by Rogers in the 1980s, renamed Unitel and was later acquired by AT&T Canada. (It’s now called Allstream).

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P171

Posted July 30, 2015 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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