Archive for the ‘Thomas L Kerr’ Tag

369 Powell Street

Today this is a food processing factory, but when it was built in 1936 it was a department store in the latest art deco style. The architect was T L Kerr, working for the store’s owner T Maikawa, whose name was incorporated into the store’s façade. This 1938 Vancouver Public Library image shows the store shopfront, and while that has been lost, the curved moderne awning is still in place.

Tomekichi Maikawa started the store after making his money fishing around Prince Rupert in the 1920s. He had a lumber business in Japan as well, so asked Kisaku Hayashi to run the store for him as he had to go back and forth too much to Japan. He had first acquired the store here in 1907, and this was a big investment for what was planned to be a chain of similar enterprises – a plan abandoned when war broke out.

The company supplied all the areas where Japanese Canadians were working from mining and lumbering to fishery industries in B.C., and from the Vancouver area to Vancouver Island and as far north as Prince Rupert. One of Tomekichi’s brothers ran the repair garage down the street, and another worked in the store seen here. There’s much more of the family history on the Nikkei voice website.

After the property was confiscated during the war, and the family were shipped off to an internment camp, the property stayed empty. Eventually, in the later 1940s International Plastics moved in, replaced in the early 1950s by Colman Furniture Ltd mfrs. Today Northwest Food Products Ltd make a wide variety of fried and steam-fried foods, including steamed and dried noodles and wonton wraps.

Advertisements

Posted June 28, 2018 by ChangingCity in East End, Still Standing

Tagged with ,

881 Granville Street (1)

881 Granville

Here’s a 1930’s picture of the recently completed Plaza Cinema on Granville Street. We can date the picture from the film that’s showing – “Assassin Assassin posterof Youth”. There’s a copy of the movie online these days, so you can make your own mind up about its quality and accuracy. In 1937, when it was released, it portrayed “a high-school girl who gets involved with a ring of teenage marijuana smokers and starts down the road to ruin. A reporter poses as a soda jerk to infiltrate the gang of teen dope fiends.” One puff of a joint turns clean cut kids into either hardened, remorseless criminals or maniacs. The cinema seems to have managed to attract quite the crowd to view the film, but maybe the fact that the theatre was only a year old in its new incarnation helped.

The building in the picture was designed by Thomas L Kerr, who also designed the Palace, (later the Lux) on East Hastings. Thomas Kerr had started as an architect in Winnipeg, moved to California, and then to Vancouver around 1929. In fact there had been a theatre here much longer – the earliest reference we can find for the Maple Leaf was in 1908, and we now know (thanks to Patrick Gunn) that it originally cost $6,000 and was designed by Norman Leech, who a year later took on the job of architect for the School Board. This might explain why alterations a year later were designed by W T Whiteway at a cost of $3,500. The same amount was spent three years later on alterations designed by Ginser Brothers. Whiteway’s changes may have coincided with the installation of the Chronophone system (making the Maple Leaf one of the first talking picture movie houses in Canada). The sound system utilised two gramophones amplified by compressed air. As Past Tense notes, “A deft operator was expected to seamlessly switch records while maintaining synchronization with the action on the screen.”

The cinema was reopened as the Plaza in 1936 and renamed as the Odeon in 1963. It closed in 1987 when the Granville 7 opened further up the street, but was reopened by Famous Players as the Plaza again for 3 years from 1988. It briefly reopened again in 1993 and continued running on-and-off until it closed for good as a movie theatre in 1997.

After significant modifications the theatre reopened as a club, initially the Plaza Club and more recently Venue, a 2-level space that can accommodate 500 people and which features both DJs and live shows.

Posted October 13, 2014 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

Tagged with

The Lux – East Hastings Street

The Lux

The Lux was a locally designed theatre (although really a movie house) that lasted for over 50 years on East Hastings Street. We looked for a ‘before’ image for a long time before coming across this image from 1994 on Christian Dahlberg’s website devoted to Vancouver’s neon. The Lux was built in 1939 and finally closed in the 1990s after a last-ditch attempt to keep it going by advertising its presence with the dramatic paint job and the offer of a $2.50 double bill. It had briefly taken on a new role in the late 1980s and early 90s as a real theatre – mostly as home to local punk music events. It was a local visual landmark, photographed by both Fred Herzog and Greg Girard.

Princess TheatreThe Lux was originally built by the Odeon chain, designed by Thomas L Kerr who also designed the Odeon on Granville Street (still standing today, much altered and now closed), and had around 900 seats.

It wasn’t the first theatre on the site – that was the Princess. The Princess appears around 1910 (the first reference to it in the Street Directory). Although it has been attributed to E E Blackmore with Charles Shand (who designed the Empress Theatre across the street) we haven’t been able to confirm that, and have some doubts that they were involved. In 1910 there was a $1,000 alteration permit for the theatre carried out by Irwin, Carver & Co for owner and architect (supposedly) Angelo Calori; the Italian hotelier who had recently built the Hotel Europe. There is a court case in December 1905 with Calori contesting a Mr Andrews’ attempt to renege on a deal to sell him a property on Hastings Street. From what we can tell it is the theatre lots. He was successful in gaining ownership by 1907. There is a clipping from March 1910 with him taking out a permit to build a one storey building at a cost of $8,000 pretty much on the site of the theatre, and then the conversion to the theatre (actually a purpose-built movie theatre) that year. (We’d guess Norman Leech was a more likely architect; he designed something similar on Granville Street around this time).

Although this picture is thought to date to around 1920, it’s almost certainly earlier. Both movies that are showing ‘One Month To Live’ and ‘Cowboy for a Day’ were silent films released in 1911. The theatre however was far from silent – it had a pipe organ installed in 1911, hence the notice ‘The Home of the PIPE ORGAN – step in and hear it’

Today there’s a new Lux; one of the more recent non-market housing schemes funded by the Provincial government on land provided by the City of Vancouver. Designed by Gomberoff Bell Lyon and managed by Raincity housing, the Lux provides 92 apartments and was completed in 2009. The site is slightly larger than the cinema, incorporating another building site, but the Lux name lives on in the same location.

Image Sources: Christian Dahlberg, Vancouverneon.com, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-867

Posted December 18, 2013 by ChangingCity in East End, Gone

Tagged with , ,