Archive for the ‘Parr and Fee’ Tag

Nelson Street – 600 block, south side

This 1981 image shows that not everything has changed Downtown – yet. If heritage status could be conferred on surface parking lots, this one might qualify, as it has been a vacant site for at least 40 years, with no sign yet of a development proposal.

We’ve seen the buildings that were on the site before it was cleared in an earlier post. There were houses here until at least the mid 1950s. Across the lane (fronting Granville Street) is a 1912 hotel, built as the Hotel Barron for  an absentee American owner, O G Barron. Parr and Fee designed the hotel, as well as the Glenaird Rooms to the south. For many years the hotel was known as the Belmont, then the Nelson Place Hotel, and more recently has been a Comfort Inn. The bars and cellar bar have been reinvented many times, including in their last iteration as Doolin’s Irish Pub and the Belmont Bar.

Currently the hotel is getting a comprehensive make-over under new owners, reopening as a boutique hotel that will once again bear the Hotel Belmont name, with the Living Room restaurant and Basement Bar.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E03.08A

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Posted April 11, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Granville Street south from West Pender

We’ve seen some of the buildings here, on the eastern side of the 500 block of Granville Street in a post from a few years ago, but looking northwards and in the 1930s. This ‘before’ picture is undated, but we’re pretty certain it was shot in the late 1960s or early 1970s before any street trees had been planted. That’s one of the 1954 Brill buses in BC Hydro livery – so between 1962 and 1973. When the new vertical white lights were added to Granville Street a few years ago, and the surface redesigned and replaced, this short section of street was the only one where the existing street trees were considered worthy of retention, and so a taller, more mature canopy exists here.

On the left is Somervell and Putnam’s 1916 design for the Merchant’s Bank, expanded in 1924 by the Bank of Montreal to Kenneth Guscotte Rea’s designs. More recently, in 2005, Paul Merrick designed its conversion to the Segal School of Business for Simon Fraser University.

Next door, across the lane, is an 1898 building, still standing today. Designed by GW Grant, it was built for W H Leckie and Co and occupied in part by the Imperial Bank, (although that use ended decades ago). William Henry Leckie was born in Toronto in 1874, and moved west in 1896. Although he managed the family business with his brother, Robert, only he was noted in the city’s early biography, although by the early 1900s, R J Leckie and Company also had a successful boot and shoe manufacturing business in Vancouver. Robert had arrived in 1894 to run the Vancouver branch of the business established by their father, John Leckie, who had immigrated to Canada from Scotland. He established a dry goods store in Toronto in 1857 which evolved into fishermen’s supply store, selling oilskin clothing, imported netting, sails, tents, and marine hardware. The firm began to manufacture its own goods, and the brothers continued that expansion by not only establishing this retail and warehouse building, but also owning a tannery on the Fraser River. Later they built a much bigger factory and warehouse on Water Street.

William Leckie didn’t constrain his activities to footware; by 1913 he was a Director of the Burrard Land and Improvement Co, the Capital Hill Land Co and of the Children’s Hospital.

Next door was a two storey building, completely obscured in the 1970s, and today refaced with a contemporary frontage. Originally it was developed by Hope, Fader and Co in 1898, and designed by W T Dalton.

To the south is a third fifty feet wide building. Today it has a 1909 façade, designed by Parr and Fee for owner Harry Abbott. The building dates back to 1889, when it was designed for Abbott (the Canadian Pacific Railway official in charge of the west coast) by the Fripp Brothers.

While the collection of buildings has retained the same scale for over a century, rumours suggest a development may see a new office tower that would retain two original heritage buildings facades.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-455

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Alexander Street – unit block, north side

We have seen a number of the buildings on this block in earlier posts, but not all of them. The one on the left of our 1996 image is the oldest on the block. The owners, Lowtide Properties, would have you believe it dates back to 1896. In fact it dates to 1900, when owner Thomas Dunn moved his ship’s chandlery business here to a rectangular brick building he commissioned, designed by N S Hoffar. It was three storeys over a basement, with the top floor having huge arched windows. Dunn operated the building for only a very short time, until 1902. In 1903 hardware dealers Wood, Vallance & Leggett were based here, having bought out Thomas Dunn’s chandlery, with Dunn continuing in the hardware business in premises a short distance away on Water Street. They also took over his Cordova Street premises (in the building he developed with Jonathan Miller).

This building was sold to Boyd, Burns and Company Ltd., dealers in engineering and mill supplies, who moved here in 1904. They added a new warehouse in 1907, hiring Parr and Fee a year before to design a new 26 feet wide building to the east costing $60,000, angled differently to line up with the rest of Alexander Street. They then sold their company to Crane Co, a Chicago based business in 1908. Crane retained the plumbing interests, initially based here, but sold the ship’s chandlery part of the business to a newly formed company, Simson-Balkwill Co. Ltd. Ship Chandlery and Engineering Supplies. Boyd ran that company from the new eastern half of the building, and built a bigger Powell Street warehouse in 1911. They were replaced by H W Petrie’s machinery company.

By 1914 the building was vacant, and the older half was still empty in 1916, although the newer half saw Vancouver Scale & Butchers Supply Co move in, and the situation prevailed to the end of the Great War. By 1920 both buildings were occupied, although the tenants were not as prestigious as in the early years. The Canadian Pacific Junk Co were in 5 Alexander, and Fujita & Co in 7 Alexander. They were importers and exporters, with Y Uchida managing. They occupied the building for several years, while there was consistent turnover of tenants in the older building, including the British Wire Rope Co, anf Gibsons Ltd who were “Manufacturers and Wholesale Distributors of Modern Logging  Equipment, Wire Ropes, Welded Chains, Donkey Engines, Logging Blocks, Oil Burning Equipment, Mill Supplies, iron, steel and “Gorilla” Axes. They had moved out, leaving the building empty again in 1926, and Alexander Murray & Co moved in to the younger building, dealing in roofing and flooring materials. They were still there in 1930, and a number of other businesses had moved into the older building including Canadian Western Cordage. A decade later all the businesses in 1 Alexander had changed, but Alexander Murray still operated from 7 Alexander, and by 1950 they had expanded to use space in the older building, joined by Aero Surplus who sold radio supplies and a firm of mechanical engineers.

Next door, in our 1996 image, the Alexander apartments are under construction, with the adjacent Alexis apartments completed a year earlier. The Alexander incorporates the two storey façade of the building built for the B.C. Market Company, approved in 1906 to cost $25,000. Thanks to Patrick Gunn we now know this was designed by Alexander Maxwell Muir, a Victoria architect. As far as we know this is the only significant building he designed in Vancouver.

In October The Daily World announced a slight delay in construction under the heading ‘Dr. Underhill’s Very Latest Problem’ “I do not see what we can do with these Indians,” said. Medical Health Officer Underhill, this morning. “I have been down to see the encampment on the site of the proposed building of the B. C. Market company, next to the Boyd-Burns building. These Indians have just come from hop picking and on their way home to the vicinity of Port Rupert and Port Harvey. They have money to spend for supplies for the winter and it is only fair that local merchants should get the benefit. Still at the same time their encampment, where they are, is very bad, from many standpoints. It is a physical and moral menace. But where can I send them? The Indians have been in the habit of camping along the foreshore after the canning and hop picking seasons for many years I have been urging the finding of a suitable place for them to camp for some time and the police have also had something to say about the matter. The police have urged, and wisely, too, that the encampment should not be put anywhere where it could not he easily supervised.” This 1898 picture shows that First Nations had been camping on the beach beyond the tracks at Alexander Street for many years.

In 1908 the builders, Smith & Sherborne, had to go to court to get final payment for the building’s construction. The building was last occupied by the Vancouver Supply Company, before both buildings were offered for sale in the mid 1980s. The Alexis has an earlier 4-storey façade of a 1907 building first occupied by first by Knowler and McCauley, candy distributors. That was designed for Alderman Jonathan Rogers – a prolific developer – and cost $12,000, although we don’t know who he hired to design it. In the 1930s all three buildings were used by the Supply Company, a wholesale grocery business. Two buildings we’ve already looked at can also be seen; the Captain French apartments can be seen just tucked in behind the flatiron of the Hotel Europe.

Historic image source; City of Vancouver Archives CVA IN N12

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Posted January 21, 2019 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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Crown Building – West Pender Street

We have looked at the north-west corner of Seymour and Pender twice, seven years ago, and again in 2013. The building on the corner was the Delmonico Hotel, built in 1889 as the Windsor Hotel. It opened in September, described in the news as ‘a new and costly undertaking’. “On Monday next the Windsor Hotel will open for business under the management of Messrs. Brocklesby and Allen, both late of Hotel Vancouver. These gentlemen are thoroughly familiar with the business, and propose to run a first – class house. The table will be second to none in the city and the rooms, well furnished and comfortable, will he kept in the best style. The bar will be well stocked with wines, liquors and cigars, the finest that can be supplied, and no pains will be spared to make the Windsor the favorite resort of the permanent and transient public. Its close proximity to the railway station and the steamers is a great point in its favor, and one tired travellers will highly appreciate.” The partnership lasted all of two months; by November Mr. Brocklesby was in sole charge.

The building had been announced in 1888, and the Daily World identified the developer, the enterprising Dr. Whetham. He commissioned N S Hoffar to design another investment property in 1888, but we haven’t found an architect listed for the Windsor. He was a qualified doctor, but had abandoned medicine for real estate development before he arrived in Vancouver in 1887.

Next door to the west was the Crown building. It was six storeys of white glazed brick, with centre-pivoted windows, which was the signature design of Parr and Fee, who designed a series of almost identical buildings on Granville Street; most are still standing today. The Crown was built in 1907, and the Daily World reported the architects, and the cost of the building ($75,000), as well as the developers, Martin & Robertson. They were importers and suppliers of dried foodstuffs, and we looked at their history in connection with their Water Street warehouse, built a few years earlier than the Crown.

Robert Martin was born in 1851 in Ontario and in 1901 lived in Vancouver with his wife Lydia, who was English, with their four children, and their ‘lady’s help’, Caroline Watson, and Jin, the domestic. Arthur Robertson was a Scotsman who was seven years younger than his business partner, and looking after the company’s other warehouse, in Victoria. They had been in business from the city’s earliest days: in 1894 they were advertising in the Daily World as agents for JOHNSTON’S FLUID BEEF – which was claimed ‘Eclipses All Meat Extracts and Home-made Beef Tea’.

Their investment building was occupied in multiple small suites, with a wide range of professional services. Architect J H Bowman had his practice here in 1911. A year later the Canada Lumberman and Woodworker magazine was published from here, and contractor Walter Hepburn had his offices here in the same year. Robert Martin had a number of other commercial investments in the city, including one a block east of here.

When Ernie Reksten took this picture in 1968 the buildings were about to be demolished, to be replaced with a parkade (with retail units on the main floor). It was completed in 1969, and looks like it should pass it’s 50th birthday, although Downtown parkades are becoming valuable redevelopment opportunities, and it seems unlikely that it will last for many more years.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 2010-006.010.

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Posted December 13, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Pender Street – 500 block, north side

These four buildings were all replaced by a building called Conference Plaza, completed in 1996. They had stood for over 90 years, and are seen here in 1968. The first building, on the corner of Seymour, on the 1912 insurance map was the Mahon, McFarland & Proctor Building. The investor partners built several projects in the city, and we looked in detail at their background in an earlier post. When it was first completed in 1908 it was known as the Imperial Block, designed by Parr and Fee, and it was developed by ‘Martin, Nichols & Gavin’, and built at a cost of $54,000 by Mills & Williams.

There’s no reference to any business or partnership named Martin, Nichols & Gavin, so our best guess is that it was a consortium including Robert Martin (of Martin and Robertson), and perhaps Duncan Gavin who ran a candy business, and whose son worked for Martin and Robertson. The ‘Nichols’ was most likely to have been John P Nicolls; of Macaulay and Nicolls; his real estate business carried out repairs to the building, designed by T E Parr, in 1921.

Next door was the Ackroyd Building, and then the Temple Building. We looked at the history behind those buildings in an earlier post. The Ackroyd Building started out being called the R V Winch Building, until Mr. Winch built a much larger and more magnificent building to the west of here. It was completed in 1905 and designed by Grant and Henderson. The Temple Building was developed by the Temple Realty Company, and also designed by Grant & Henderson. The Temple family were in Santa Rosa, California, but they relied on a relative, W Bennett Hood to manage their Vancouver investment, after 1906 joined by his brother Robert, partners in Hood Brothers real estate, based in the building.

The last building on the block was also built in 1905, although the foundations had been started in 1895. Dr Israel Wood Powell ‘of Victoria’ was originally the developer, in partnership with R G Spinks and R G McKay, with a building designed by Fripp and Wills in 1892. The foundations were started a couple of years later, but the 1903 insurance map showed that that was all that had been constructed eight years after that. In 1905 a new permit was taken out by Powell and Hood – They were William Bennett Hood (who developed the Temple building)and Bertram W Powell, the son of Israel Wood Powell. Also designed by Grant & Henderson, the $15,000 building had iron columns and beams. In 1922 it was known as the Roaf Block; owned by J. H. Roaf, who hired Dalton & Eveleigh to design $9,000 of work to repair the building after a fire. Major Roaf was the managing director of the Clayburn Co, manufacturers of bricks and sewer pipes from a clay deposit at Sumas Mountain. A keen motorist, in 1912 he was owner of vehicle licence 1587. In 1923 another $20,000 of alterations (designed by William Dodd & Sons) were carried out when the World Publishing Co moved in (rather a drop in status from the World Tower down the street).

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 2010-006.008; Ernie Reksten

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Posted September 24, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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East Hastings Street – 100 block, south side (2)

Here’s the eastern end of the 100 block of East Hastings in a picture from 2002. (We looked at the western end in an earlier post). On the left in Molson’s Bank building, while the tallest building is the Regent Hotel, and on the far right of the picture is the Empire Hotel. The pale brick Molson’s Bank was designed by H L Stevens, who was based in New York but had a branch office in Vancouver for a few years from 1911 and was responsible for several landmark buildings in Vancouver and the United States. Molson’s had an earlier 1898 branch on West Hastings, while this building, the East End Branch, costing $80,500, was approved for construction with a concrete frame in 1912. The bank continued to use the building until the 1930s, and the upper storeys were initially used for offices for doctors, dentists, lawyers, and other professionals, (including court interpreter and notary public W A Cumyow), but by 1922 had become the Graycourt Hotel (rooms).

Later the whole building became the Roosevelt Hotel, over the years becoming more run down and in the late 1990s home to some of the women who were victims of the Pickton murder case. It was acquired by BC Housing, and is now run by the Portland Hotel Society, with 42 units of non-profit housing for Downtown Eastside residents. The community members are largely individuals dealing with physical and mental health issues, social stigma, emotional trauma, substance dependence, and other issues.The building underwent a major renovation in 2015 as part of BC Housing’s SRO Renewal Initiative, and reopened, beautifully renovated, in August 2016.

162 E Hastings, to the west, was probably completed in 1913 (as 148 E Hastings), although it received its building permit in 1911. Designed by Parr and Fee for Adolphus Williams, it was purpose-built as a Billiard hall & cigar stand built by Hemphill Brothers and cost $10,000 to build. Mr. Williams was a lawyer, magistrate and former politician; (he represented Vancouver City in the BC Legislative Assembly from 1894 to 1898). Mr. Williams apparently quickly sold the building to real estate agents Hope and Farmer, who carried out a number of repairs and alterations including a 1919 permit to use it as the Veteran’s Canteen.

Next door to the east is the Regent Hotel, which the City of Vancouver are seeking to expropriate because of the condition that the owner has allowed it to fall to, and east of that was the Pantages Theatre, designed by E E Blackmore in 1907, and tragically demolished and redeveloped as a controversial condo building in 2011.

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50 West Cordova Street

This is the Hildon Hotel in 1985, and today – almost unchanged over 30 plus years. We’re not sure if the 1955 street directory entry was a typo, or whether the hotel really changed it’s name from the Manitoba Hotel (which it was from when it opened until 1954) to the Hilton Hotel, but it’s been the Hildon for many decades. The pub was, and is, a typical eastside bar, but briefly in the mid 1980s it added ‘exotic dancing’ and entertainment to the 50 Bourbon Street pub just at the point that strippers were starting to be replaced in other bars in the city. Today it’s still ‘The Bourbon’, which claims to be unlike any bar in the city. “Its rich history can be felt as soon as you walk through the doors. Established in 1937, The Bourbon has been many things…a strip club, a biker bar, a live venue, and until recently Vancouver’s first country bar.”

The ‘official’ heritage statement says the building was designed in 1909 by W T Whiteway. We can’t find any reference to substantiate that attribution, and the building’s design, using white glazed bricks is much more reminiscent of Parr and Fee’s work. They used bricks like this extensively on other hotel buildings in the early 1910s, especially on Granville Street. They obtained two building permits for this address, both in 1909. The first was in April, for Evans, Coleman & Evans, Ltd who commissioned $25,000 of alterations to the William Block. Two months later another $7,000 permit for the same address, with the same architects, was approved for further alterations. Both projects were built by Baynes & Horie. The expenditure suggests something substantial in the way of alteration, so there may be part of the structure underneath that pre-dates the 1909 construction, but the street directory identifies a ‘new building’ here in 1909.

Evans Coleman and Evans also owned the hotels across the street, as well as many other business interests in the city. When the hotel opened (as the Hotel Manitoba) in 1910 it was run by J H Quann. John Henry (Jack) Quann had lived on the site before, as his father, Thomas Quann (from New Brunswick) had run the Central Hotel here in the 1890s, and in 1896 Jack and his brother Billy had taken over before moving on to other hotels, including the Balmoral, then the Ranier which they built in 1907, as well as the Rose and Maple Leaf theatres. Once the earlier hotel had closed this location was briefly home in 1902 to the Electric Theatre – Canada’s first permanent cinema (before this movies were shown as travelling shows run by people like the Electric’s founder, John Schuberg). Schuberg sold the Electric and moved to Winnipeg in 1903. Jack Quann died in 1911, and the hotel was then run by Jay D Pierce, and as with other hotels of the day there were a number of long-term tenants as well as visitors staying in the premises.

One strange story recently came to light involving the hotel bar. In 1963 Henry Gourley claimed to be drinking there with two friends, when he told Bellingham police that they overheard a conversation from a nearby table. Three men, he said, declared that if Kennedy were to ever go to Dallas “he would never leave there alive.” The men said they were headed to Cuba afterwards and one, who he suggested was named Lee and wearing a grey suit and brown shirt, said his uncle owned “a foreign rifle.” Gourley told the police that he recognized one of the men from a photo shown on a TV program that was “talking about the rifle.” The FBI investigated the claim, as the conversation supposedly took place about three weeks before the death of JFK. Gourley was found to be an unreliable witness, and his friends didn’t back the story up.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-2138

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