Archive for the ‘Sholto Smith’ Tag

West Pender Street east from Bute

This image was taken around 1910, and is titled “View of Pender Street looking west, showing Elysium Hotel and Hoffmeister Bros. garage” Actually it’s looking east – because the Elysium Hotel was on the south side of Pender. We looked at the history of the hotel in a recent post. It was designed in 1909 by Sholto Smith, with the developer described as ‘C C Smith’ in the permit – although we haven’t found anyone with those initials in the city at the time.

On the left is another 1909 development, but this one more modest. Fred Hoffmeister developed the $5,000 repair garage here, designing the building himself. (His brother Henry also designed and developed repair garages, and the Hoffmeister family had extensive real estate holdings, both as investments, and associated with their engineering and car repair businesses). Although other Hoffmeister family members were in the city in subsequent years, Fred appears to have moved on. The garage flourished, with the Hoffmeisters (whose office was in the prestigious Winch Building) selling a range of both electric and gasoline powered brands.

Here’s a 1911 image from the Vancouver Sun showing both the electric powered Waverley and The Marmon and Thomas Flyer gasoline vehicles. The Waverley was produced from 1908 to 1914 in Indianapolis although it had been built for a few years before that as the Pope-Waverley. It used Edison batteries, and the models shown here could seat two. The cars were popular with lady drivers, as they didn’t require hand cranking to start them. The Marmon was produced from 1902 through to 1933, and was also built in Indianapolis. The first Indy 500 was run in 1911, and a Marmon won. The company introduced a variety of new features, including the first rear view mirror. The Thomas Flyer was a big car, seating seven, built in Buffalo, New York. The company existed from 1902 to 1919. A 1907 Model 35 with 4 cylinders and 60 horsepower won the 1908 New York to Paris Race, the first and only around-the-world automobile race ever held. (The car is on show in Reno, Nevada these days).

After the war the building was used by the Soldiers Civil Retraining establishment. Canada was one of the first Allied countries to implement a system of retraining for its wounded soldiers, and by 1920, when they were using the premises, 26,000 wounded ex-servicemen were being retrained.

On the right in the foregroound is a house designed by Crowe and Wilson for Mrs Lipsett, who apparently built it herself, if the permit is to believed. It cost $3,200, which was a substantial sum. her husband, Edward, was originally from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and became an important manufacturer in Vancouver, making sails on Water Street. He added to his business over the years, by 1914 working from a larger building and described as manufacturers of canvas goods – sails, tents, tarpaulins, aprons, coats and overalls.

On the right today are a row of office buildings. Closest to us is 1166 West Pender, built in 1974, designed by Paine and Associates, and already proposed to be demolished and redeveloped with a building over twice as tall. Next door is a 1985 office designed by Hamilton Doyle in 1984, and there are two red brick clad buildings from 1980 and 1960 beyond that.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives SGN 1577


Posted September 30, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Elysium Hotel, West Pender Street

The Elysium was – according to the building permit – developed by C C Smith, who hired Sholto Smith to design the $95,000 investment, built by “McNeil and Marsegh” in 1909. The Daily World said the builders were McNeil and Manseigh, (and the street directory said he was Joseph Mansergh). The newspaper initially said it was going to be named The Mountain View Hotel, but it was named The Ellison when it opened, and the Elysium a year later. We have no idea who C C Smith was – this was the only project anyone of that name developed, and there was nobody apparently resident in the city with those initials.

The permit was issued in 1909, but a year later Christina Harwood was still listed as living in a house here. A year later the hotel was open as the Hotel Ellison according to the street part of the directory (but curiously, the Elysium in the name part of the directory). The owners were identified as “THE HOTELS CORPORATION LTD” – and their manager, J D Sheldon, applied for a liquor license for the Hotel Ellison in 1910, and it was still known by that name in February 1911. The name change was announced on March 15: it would become the Hotel Elysium, (with a huge name sign on the rooftop). The sign was necessary as this was a somewhat out-of-the-way location, and the timing for opening a new hotel wasn’t great either. Several other rival hotels had just been built, and by 1912 the economy was heading for a recession; then the war started, and by 1915 the hotel was offered for sale by court order, described as having cost about $300,000, but carrying a mortgage of over $100,000 at seven and a half percent interest. (The advertising extended as far as Portland, Oregon).

Two years later the hotel was taken over by the Returning Soldiers Club, who used it to house soldiers returning from the war, and a variety of related agencies like the Soldiers Aid Commission. The hotel was returned to civilian use in 1919.

The architect, Sholto Smith, had married Charlie Woodward’s daughter, but the marriage didn’t go well and Sholto left the city, initially for Moose Jaw (in 1912), and then to war, serving for five years, returning to Canada with some post-war injury from gas poisoning. He returned to Vancouver in 1920, although his marriage was by then over. He briefly went into partnership with Edmund Grassett, from Simcoe in Ontario, who was a contractor and then house builder (and self-described architect around 1909, although he was never formally registered). Although Smith’s biography says they designed the alterations to the Elysium to return it to civilian use, in practice the permit for that transformation was only submitted in 1921, a year after Smith had emigrated to New Zealand (where he would remarry and run a successful architectural practice in Auckland). Dalton & Eveleigh designed the $7,000 of alterations, with Baynes and Horie doing the building work and Macaulay & Nicolls supervising as agents.

The hotel reopened as the Elysium Hotel, with Stuart O’Brian managing. There were some permanent residents (who weren’t necessarily living in the hotel all the time, as at least one was a traveling salesman). By 1943 the hotel use had ceased, and the property became apartments, known as Park Plaza, with a redesign for the new role by C B K Van Norman. The suites were for families of former servicemen, who faced a severe housing shortage during, and after the second war. By the early 1950s it was once again returned to hotel use for a final time, before demolition not very long after this 1976 image was taken. In 1985 Hamilton Doyle’s design for an 18 storey office building replaced the hotel.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-99



Posted July 7, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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