Archive for the ‘Province Building’ Tag

The Province Building – 140 West Hastings (1)

Here’s 140-142 West Hastings Street, on the same block of the street the Woodwards sits. A number of buildings on this block were built in the late 1890s, and this is one of them. The building has been used as an art gallery for many years, but it started life in 1898 as the offices of the Province Newspaper, Walter Nichol’s Victoria newspaper that moved into Vancouver and eventually took out Francis Carter-Cotton’s rival News-Advertiser in 1924, moving to his smarter offices in the process. In 1926 when this photograph was taken it had become ‘The Arcade’ a retail centre that may have replaced one of the same name that had been built on Hastings at Cambie in 1894 by Harvey Hadden, originally from Nottingham in England. The Arcade took in the main floor of the Stock Exchange Building next door as well, and was almost certainly designed by Townley and Matheson. Later it became the National Furniture Store.

The 1912 image on the right shows the original Province office facade before the retail conversion opened it up. Massive changes have occurred on the block in the past two years – at one time almost everything was abandoned or so run down that it looked like it would be demolished or converted to housing. However, recent demand for character office space and the impact of the Woodwards project have seen clean up and refurbishment of many of the buildings. This building has been for sale for some time, and will undoubtedly see a similar change in the future.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1399-546

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Carter Cotton Building – 198 West Hastings

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Victory Square

The three significant buildings seen in the view from Victory Square in 1927 are still there. On the left is the 13 storey Dominion Building. Started in 1908 by the Imperial Trust Company it was designed by J S Helyer and Son. John Helyer handled the architectural aspects of their projects, while his son Maurice was more involved with the engineering.  An over optimistic belief that the necessary $600,000 would be easy to raise led to a shotgun merger with the Dominion Trust Company, and the building was completed in 1910. Perhaps it would have been called the Imperial Building if the merger hadn’t been needed.

The Dominion is said to be the first steel-framed building in the city, and on completion the tallest in the British Empire. When it was built it was across the street from the Courthouse, which was replaced in 1913, and later transformed into Victory Square with the Cenotaph, which can be clearly seen in this 1927 photograph. Several books and websites carry statements like this “Tragically, the Dominion Building’s architect, J.S. Hellyer, is said to have tripped, fallen and died on the interior staircase during the opening party for the building. His ghost reportedly haunts the staircase.”

It may well be true that Mr Helyer (not Hellyer) did fall at some time during the building’s construction, but the fall was not fatal and father and son went on to design other buildings. John Helyer finally died in 1919, having seen the building suffer further financial crises, with the Dominion Trust Company selling the building to the Dominion Bank, the Trust Company President W R Arnold committing suicide and the main financial backer Count Alvo von Alvensleben bankrupt.

The smaller building in the centre, the Flack Block was completed in 1899 to William Blackmore’s design for Thomas Flack who made his money successfully prospecting in the Klondike. On the right is the Carter-Cotton building, also steel framed and completed in 1909. Designed by Cox and Amos, it was home to the News-Advertiser newspaper. Later acquired by the Province newspaper, it continued as editorial offices until 1960. The Flack Building has recently had an expensive and superb restoration designed by Acton Ostry Architects that has added a new fifth floor. And the only significant addition to the picture? The 43 storey Woodwards W Tower designed by Henriquez Partners and completed in 2010.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Park N19

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