Archive for the ‘Peter John Bennett’ Tag

Arlington Rooms – East Pender Street

This beige rooming house with a diamond red pattern of brickwork seems to advertise the architects from the design. The diamond pattern was the trademark of Townsend & Townsend, a British-born father and son partnership with considerable success in the five years they were in the city. The exact same pattern was on the Rialto Hotel on Granville, and 322 Water Street among many others. However, that’s not what the 1912 permit says. It says that P J Bennett was the owner, and the builder, but E Beam, contractor designed it. That’s very odd, as Mr. Beam designed a few houses, which he usually built, often for himself. This is the only apartment building he was shown as having designed. Mr. Bennett is also an unlikely builder – the only P J Bennett in the city at the time was a Main Street barber called Peter J Bennett who lived at 549 Jackson. He was almost certainly the developer, as he was involved in a court case in 1913 related to this lot, between Peter John Bennett and Dominion Tobacco.

While it’s possible, but seems unlikely, that Mr. Bennett learned how to build, it looks as is Mr. Beam ‘borrowed’ Townsend & Townsend’s signature design of brickwork. That would mean Mr. Bennett was the developer and Mr. Beam the contractor and designer. (The ledger of Building Permits is pretty clear on that). We can find no evidence that the Townsends were involved, and they left Vancouver in 1913.

Peter John Bennett was from Sweden, and would have been about 45 when this was built. He had arrived in 1891, with his wife, Lena, and they had a daughter, Agnes, in the year after they got here. We found him successfully in the 1901 census, but he was more of a problem in 1911 because he was listed at John P Bennett. All the other details about the family remained the same; for once none of then tried to shave a year or two off their age.

Although the rooms were built in 1912, they don’t show up in the street directory until 1914. There’s a 1912 advertisement for them in the Vancouver Sun, and in 1913 Patrick Meagher was shown here – ‘bartndr’ at the Europe Hotel. They were called the Norden Rooms, run by Helen M Whitten in 1914, The Liverpool Rooms in 1915 (with no named proprietor). In 1918 identified as ‘Chinese’. Downstairs the Chinese Independent & Presbyterian Mission occupied the storefront until the early 1920s. In 1921 the owners Griffiths & Lee carried out $1,000 of repairs, and the Chinese Mission made minor changes in 1925.

The address in 1924 continued to say ‘Chinese’. In 1926 there a new proprietor, J McIntyre, and a new name; The Star Rooms. The name stuck around, although Mr. McIntyre didn’t; by 1929 the description had switched to ‘Japanese’. It must have been confusing at times, as there was another Star Rooms on Main Street, and a third on Powell Street. That confusion continued into the early 1930s, when all three rooming houses had Japanese proprietors. In 1932 this one was run by T Nishi, clarified as T T Nishikawa later in the 1930s.

Once the Japanese were forced to leave the coastal parts of British Columbia two of the three Star Rooms had Chinese proprietors; in this case Wong Hung took over. In 1949 there was new proprietor, and a new name – the Arlington Hotel, run by Paul Chubocha. Within a couple of years Max and Peter Nelson of Haney had taken over and renamed the building as The Arlington Rooms. In 1957 the main floor was advertised as ‘warehouse for rent with front office’. Our 1978 image shows almost no differences from the appearance of the building today, when the Chinese Community Library Services Association occupy the main floor and basement, and there are still 30 rooms with shared bathrooms on each floor upstairs. The property was offered for sale for $2.8m and sold in 2018.

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Posted 13 May 2021 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

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