Archive for the ‘Sansom and Dawson’ Tag

City Hall – Westminster Avenue

The City of Vancouver’s first purpose-built City Hall was wooden, built on Powell Street near Water Street, and expanded in 1888. Here’s the second location, on Westminster Avenue – today’s Main Street. To the south when this 1930s image was taken, was the Market Hall, and to the north the Carnegie Library. Sansom and Dawson won the commission to design this building in 1889 – but not as the City Hall. They were designing the new City Market (with a hall upstairs) which occupied the building until 1898 when the City Council decided it would suit their purposes better as offices. The Vancouver Daily World reporter, having inspected the original plans, wrote “The exterior design of the building is a decided departure from anything we have seen around, and reflects very creditably upon the architects for their ability in designing, and when erected will be one of the handsomest structures in the city, the entire planning showing care, correctness and practicability.”

The market was moved quite a bit further south, by the bridge to Mount Pleasant (as False Creek went all the way to close to Clark Drive in those days). It didn’t do well in such a relatively isolated location and was moved back here some years later. Here’s a 1908 image from the same angle showing the side of the hall before the market returned.

The city didn’t get round to another location for their offices for 30 years, finding their quarters increasingly cramped over the years as the city grew, and the administrative functions with it. Finally, in the mid 1920s, they leased the Holden Block, an office ‘tower’ (for its day) on West Hastings, and after extensive alterations to add a Council Chamber, they relocated, only to move again to the present City Hall in 1936.

Today there’s a modest two storey building, first built in 1959 and altered in 1979. It’s no doubt a good candidate for redevelopment in future.

Image source: City of Vancouver archives CVA 447-298 and Vancouver Public Library



Posted 14 September 2017 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

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Carnegie Library and City Hall

As we noted in the YMCA Building post, by the late 1890s the city was in need of a library – a real library rather than a room in another building. American steel magnate and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie (his family moved from Sctoland when he was 13) was funding libraries all over North America, and Vancouver was viewed favourably for an investment in literature. (There were 125 Carnegie Libraries in Canada, almost all in Ontario, but Victoria and New Westminster got one too). G W Grant was hired to design the building, which was most definitely outside the CPR part of town, on the south-west corner of Westminster (Main) and Hastings. Carnegie donated $50,000 on the basis that the City would donate a site and spend $5,000 a year on running the library.

Work started in 1902 and nearly two years later the library opened. It was located next door to the new City Hall. An earlier City Hall was located at Powell Street in 1888. In 1898 the City moved to the building you can see to the south of the library. It was originally erected in 1889 as a market hall designed by Sansom and Dawson (although oddly it has been attributed to C O Wickenden). It was built of Bowen Island bricks where Mayor David Oppenheimer had a financial interest in the brickworks. Unfortunately the clay, or the firing, wasn’t the finest, and Wickenden had to hastily change the design to add two buttressing towers to make sure the building stayed up.

In 1929 with the amalgamation of two other cities into Vancouver larger premises were needed and Council decamped to the Holden Building, an existing office also altered to become City Hall.

The Library stayed until the early 1950s, taking over the former City Hall as an Annex. After the Library moved to their new building on Burrard Street the Museum used the Carnegie building, and the old City Hall was demolished in 1958. After threats of demolition the renovated Carnegie Centre opened as a social service centre for the Downtown Eastside in 1980, incorporating a branch library and with a subtle addition designed by Downs Archambault to the south.

Image source: Library and Archives Canada