Archive for the ‘Sharp and Thompson’ Tag

West Cordova from Abbott (2)

We saw a view westwards from Abbott along Cordova from 1889 in an earlier post. That was the south side of Cordova – here’s the north side seen in a more recent image – it’s an undated postcard that we guess is from the late 1900s.

The block on the left is G W Grant’s first known project in Vancouver “commercial block for W B Wilson, 1887”. It was illustrated in an 1887 promotional publication “Vancouver – Pacific Coast Terminus of the CPR”. William Bell Wilson was from Nova Scotia, and he lived in St John New Brunswick before moving to British Columbia in 1862. He worked in Victoria as an accountant, and Kamloops as a merchant. He married, had two children, and then became a widower when his wife died in 1879 when the children were aged 1 and 3. He was obviously successful financially, owning at least four lots in the city in 1886. In 1887 he was listed as a real estate agent in this building, and that year the city’s handbook listed him as a ‘Principal Property Owner’ with $25,000 of assets, one of the more significant landowners. By 1891 the block was owned by Rand Brothers, and Mr. Wilson’s finances had suffered, and he became Collector of Customs in Rossland, and then Trail.

He died, of dropsy, (these days it would probably be identified as edema due to congestive heart failure), aged 55, in Spokane. The Trail Creek News published his obituary “Mr. Wilson went to Spokane in July, for treatment. From the first no hopes had been entertained of his recovery. Last week his son was telegraphed for, and was with his father when he died.

Mr. Wilson was appointed collector of customs at this outport last November, at the time the outport was created. Prior to that time he had been with the Rossland office. Of his previous history the Rosslander says: “Mr. Wilson was a pioneer of the province, and is well known to most of the earlier residents.  During the C.P.R. construction he was a partner with J.A. Mara, ex-M.P. at Kamloops, where they built three steamers for conveying supplies from Tacoma to the eastern end of the Onderdonk section at the head of navigation on Shuswap Lake. These did a very large carrying business. Mr. Wilson went to Vancouver when that city was young and owned valuable property there, but he became interested through further investments in Anacortes, and with the depression in that city lost considerable money. Mr. Wilson had few intimate friends, but a wide circle of acquaintances who admired his many good qualities and learn with sincere regret of his death.”

A man in Mr. Wilson’s position has little opportunity to make friends, but the writer, with many others in Trail, knew him well and had the friendliest feelings and the greatest of respect for the dead officer.”

Today the base of a 31-storey condo building, part of the Woodwards redevelopment. occupies the site.

Today the Runkle Block sits on the north west corner, but in 1901 it was the two-storey wooden Cosmopolitan Restaurant. In 1910, according to a building permit, J C Runkle hired Sharp and Thompson to design the building standing today. It cost $28,000 and was built by Robert McLean. The developer was a total mystery – although we have identified what appears to be a likely subject. The initials for ‘J C Runkle’ come from the building permit, but there’s a cartouche on the building with the initials ‘J R’.

Runkle is a relatively unusual name, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find the developer. In fact, in 1911 there was only one person in Canada listed in the census with the surname ‘Runkle’. Fortunately for us, he lived in Vancouver. Unfortunately, he was called Gordon Runkle, so J C Runkle didn’t match. He had lived in Vancouver from 1906, and died in Nanaimo in 1943.  He was married in the city in 1914, and he had the same architects design a house on Marine Drive in 1922. His father, John D Runkle was a resident of Brookline, Massachusetts, the President of MIT (the second in the institution’s history), and also a chairman of the Brookline School Committee and an early advocate of mathematics and science. Gordon had an older brother (sixteen years older) named John C Runkle. Our guess is that Gordon, at the height of Vancouver’s property boom, managed the development on behalf of his brother – an absentee American east coast investor. In 1900 John worked for the National Coal Tar Co, in 1910 he was Vice President of a manufacturing company, and in 1930 he was an executive of a lumber supply company, living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1908 he bought an old house dating back to 1765, had it moved, and hired architect Lois Lilley Howe to reconstruct and remodel the house.

Only one of the three buildings looks the same today as it did in the early 1900s. That’s part of the Cook Block – the western-most 4 storey element is said to have been completed in 1892. That part of the building has bay windows on two floors. Next door was a three storey building that has had an additional floor added to make it a matching four storeys today. They were developed by Edward Cook (who also constructed the Wilson Block on the left, laid the foundations of Christ Church, and was the builder of the first courthouse among many other projects). We don’t know if Edward hired an architect – and if so, who he chose.

In the 1891 census Edward was shown aged 35, born in Ontario, with a wife from Quebec, and four children under 8; Edna, May, Winifred and baby Wallace (listed as Douglas a decade later). In 1901 his wife is recorded as Miri, (actually she was Maria) and the four children now have three siblings, Beatrice, Francis and Elsie. His wife’s sister Elibeth (sic) Douglas, and son-in-law, Thomas Forman were shown living with the family (Maria and Elizabeth had a brother in the city; Frank, of Kelly, Douglas & Co). Edward arrived from Manitoba in 1886, and built a house for his family, that was burned down before they could arrive. They were travelling from Quebec, overland through Chicago , Portland and Tacoma, and then by steamer to Victoria and then Vancouver. They arrived days after the fire and their first home in Vancouver was a tent on Carrall Street, near this location. Edward was elected an alderman from 1901 to 1905, and was a very successful resident of the city. Maria died in the spring of 1940, and Edward four days later.

Beyond the Cook Block was the Eagle Hotel, which was added to in 1906, helping us date the picture. The Eagle was lost when Woodwards built their parking garage. The upper floors of the Cook Block were, for a while, residential, known as the Marble Rooms, but they closed in 1974. Today the three structures of the Cook Block and the Runkle Block (all three are only half the depth of the lot, so sixty feet deep) have been combined into a single building, with a restaurant on the corner and commercial uses on the upper floors.

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Posted June 24, 2019 by ChangingCity in Gastown, Still Standing

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Gilford Court – 1125 Gilford Street

These two buildings look quite similar, but one is an early rental building, and the other a more recent condo. Cyril Tweedale was the developer: an investment broker and realtor who hired architects Sharp & Thompson to design the $33,000 investment property. It was completed in 1912, and it was the first structure built on the site as this end of the West End took some years to build out. It was developed by the London and Western Canada Investment Co, where Cyril Tweedale was managing director. We looked at Cyril’s history in connection with the Tweedale Block he built on East Hastings. The Investment Company were involved in both finance and insurance, specializing in handling transactions for English investors. Rents were advertised from $37.50 for a 5-room suite.

The building was demolished in 1981, (in the days when rental properties weren’t protected) and in 1984 a new Gilford Court appeared. This is a 44 unit condo building. In 1984 they cost from $72,900 – although financing that year cost over 10%. Today 2-bed units sell at over $900,000.

Image source: Jan Gates, on flickr.

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Posted May 20, 2019 by ChangingCity in Gone, West End

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1145 West Georgia Street

In 1931 this was the city’s shiny new Art Gallery. Designed by Sharp and Thompson in a fashionable art deco style, it was squeezed onto a 66 foot wide lot donated by the City of Vancouver, and cost $40,000 to construct. There were apparently just seven Canadian paintings on show; most of the collection was by British artists.

At the time it was built, this was a quiet residential street, as this VPL image from the same year shows. This site had originally been developed with a pair of semi-detached houses before 1900. Emily Carr was still painting at the time, and there were none of her paintings in the collection. In 1938 the gallery was occupied by unemployed men protesting government policy, but no paintings were damaged. A major expansion and remodeling was built in 1951, and the Art Gallery moved to it’s current home in the converted court house in 1983. The site was redeveloped in 1992 with an office tower designed by Webb, Zerafa, Menkes, Housden and Partners for Manulife (who developed the building as the headquarters of BC Gas, known today as Terasen). More recently it was acquired by the developers of the adjacent Trump Tower, and there are now refurbished retail units along the street.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4062

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Posted April 18, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Hastings Street west from Howe Street

This 1930s postcard shows several buildings that have been redeveloped, and three that are still standing. The extraordinary Marine Building dominates the older picture – one of Vancouver’s rare ‘street end blockers’ – and fortunately, a worthy example, designed by Vancouver’s McCartner Nairne and Partners, designing their first skyscraper. While it’s Vancouver’s finest art deco building, it was far from a positive example of development budgeting. Costing $2.3 million, it was $1.1 million over budget, and guaranteed the bankruptcy of its developers, Toronto-based G A Stimson and Co.

Stimsons were also owners of the Merchant’s Exchange, the building closest to the camera on the north (right) side of the street. That was designed by Townley & Matheson, and the building permit says it cost $100,000 and was developed in 1923 for “A. Melville Dollar Co”. Alexander Melville Dollar was from Bracebridge, Ontario, but moved to Vancouver as the Canadian Director of the Robert Dollar Company. Robert Dollar was a Scotsman who managed a world-wide shipping line from his home in San Francisco. His son Harold was based in Shanghai, overseeing the Chinese end of the Oriental trade, another son, Stanley managed the Admiral Oriental Line, and the third son, A Melville Dollar looked after the Canadian interests, including property development. (The Melville Dollar was a steamship, owned by the Dollar Steamship Company, which ran between Vancouver and Vladivostok in the early 1920s).

The larger building on the right is the Metropolitan Building, designed by John S Helyer and Son, who previously designed the Dominion Building. Beyond it is the Vancouver Club, built in 1914 and designed by Sharp and Thompson.

On the south side of the street in the distance is the Credit Foncier building, designed in Montreal by Barrot, Blackadder and Webster, and in Vancouver by the local office of the US-based H L Stevens and Co. Almost next door was the Ceperley Rounfell building, whose façade is still standing today, built in 1921 at a cost of $50,000, designed by Sharp & Thompson.

Next door was the Fairmont Hotel, that started life as the Hamilton House, developed by Frank Hamilton, and designed by C B McLean, which around the time of the postcard became the Invermay Hotel. The two storey building on the corner of Howe was built in 1927 for Macaulay, Nicolls & Maitland, designed by Sharp and Thompson. Before the building in the picture it was a single storey structure developed by Col. T H Tracey in the early 1900s. There were a variety of motoring businesses based here, including a tire store on the corner and Vancouver Motor & Cycle Co a couple of doors down (next to Ladner Auto Service, run by H N Clement). The building was owned at the time by the Sun Life Insurance Co. Today there are two red brick modest office buildings, one from 1975 and the other developed in 1981.

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West Georgia and Homer Streets looking west

We shot this image about a year ago, and it’s already out of date. The building on the left has already been demolished, soon to be replaced by a new and very unusually shaped office tower. It was 418 West Georgia, and we looked at its history in an earlier post. It was built in 1913, designed by Sharp and Thompson, and was initially a car dealership. From 1917 to early in 1919 it was the Stettler Cigar Factory – described at the time as ‘the largest cigar factory west of the great lakes’. In 1920 it went back to being a car dealership, which continued for many decades. In the 1970s it was, at different times, a restaurant and a gallery (in this 1980s image), before Budget Car Rental took over in the 1990s.

Today there’s a vacant lot to the west, currently parking for car share vehicles, that was also used as a car dealership for many years. Beyond that today is the Telus Garden office tower, recently sold as an investment. It replaced a 1950s parkade, which in turn replaced a 1938 commercial building, which was built where Brandon Autos had a gas station before that – and where the First Congregational Church had originally been built in 1889, designed by William Blackmore.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-832

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Posted December 24, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Hastings and Howe – sw corner

This 1927 image shows the shiny new premises of Messrs Macaulay, Nicolls and Maitland, one of the city’s more successful real estate companies. We looked at the history of the company when we posted about company founder J P Nicolls’ house. Nicolls, originally from Cornwall, England, teamed up with C H Macaulay in 1898 to found a real estate and insurance company. Charles Macaulay was from New Brunswick, and his wife Ethel from PEI. Only three years after the firm was formed, Charles could already afford to have a live-in domestic servant. In 1901 Charles was 32, Ethel was 24, his son Douglas was nine, Donald was two, and their domestic, Margret (sic) Featherstone from Quebec was 31, and her 17 year old daughter Ruby also living with the family.

This new building came after Ronald Maitland had become a partner in the company, in 1922. Ron seems to have come to Vancouver with his parents as a small boy; he was born in 1886, and already living in the city by the 1901 census.

The building was shown as being commissioned by Royal Securities Corp, presumably the Montreal based investment bankers, who had offices on West Hastings. It was designed by Sharp and Thompson. It’s just possible that this wasn’t accurate: Macaulay, Nicolls and Maitland were also each a shareholder in the Royal Plate Glass Insurance Company of Canada, formed in 1926 with three other partners. However, it could be that the ‘Royal’ connection is just a coincidence – Macaulay was general manager of the West Hastings based insurance firm while retaining his real estate partnership. It was built by A Rodger Construction at a cost of $125,000

In 1981 the site was redeveloped as Prime Capital Place a modest brick-clad office building from an era when red brick cladding and midrise office buildings were a popular preference in the business district.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N298

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Vancouver Club – West Hastings Street

The front of the Vancouver Club hasn’t changed in over 40 years, as this 1976 image shows. In fact, it hasn’t changed much in over 100 years, from 1914 when it was completed to Sharp and Thompson’s design. The back of the building is a different matter. When it was built it sat on top of an escarpment, looking out over the railway tracks and wharves. The design was distinctly ‘back of house’ as nobody really saw it. That changed over time as the port functions moved and the road network gradually expanded northwards with new connections, effectively huge bridges, linking up at the West Hastings grade with the creation of Canada Place. Now the Waterfront Centre is across the street (and an extended Cordova Street), and beyond that is the Convention Centre. In 1992 the remodeling of the building saw a new façade facing north and internal layout, with a cantilevered element on the upper floor.

Founded in 1889, it was a number of clubs established by local businessmen; the city’s elite were members of the Vancouver Club. They had C O Wickenden (a club member) design their first premises in 1893, and once this new building was completed the Quadra Club occupied their old building (which was next door, to the east, and finally demolished in 1930).

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-34

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Posted May 29, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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