Archive for the ‘Townley and Matheson’ Tag

300 block Main Street – east side

This 1951 image shows a series of buildings soon to come to the end of their existence. In 1953 Townley and Matheson’s Public Safety Building was completed where the earlier structures had stood. While the adjacent addition of the Public Safety Building was completed a year later, and was supposedly designed by Dawson and Hall (if you believe the Heritage Statement for the building), there’s an architects illustration in the Archives that suggests it was all designed as a single project and was all the work of Townley and Matheson; Dawson & Hall were a construction company, so that was presumably who built it.

The buildings that were replaced were built over a number of years. The 2-storey corner building pre-dated 1900, and we haven’t identified the developer. The largest building on the block was once the location of the Hotel Blackburn, then the Blackburn House Hotel and was later converted and renamed as the Lanning Apartments. Next door was a more ornate building, completed as the Star Theatre in 1921.

Albert E Blackburn had operated a hotel here from 1900. Before that he ran the Russ House on Powell Street. He was from an Irish protestant family, and born in Ontario (in 1854), where his wife, Aggie (who was three years younger) was also born. The couple almost needed a hotel just for their family; in 1901 there were 9 children at home, 6 girls and 3 boys, aged 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 16, 18, and 19 years. The family had moved around quite a bit; the oldest children (still at home) were born in the United States, then the next in Ontario, then in British Columbia, three in the US again (in Seattle), and the youngest in British Columbia.

In 1908 the Blackburn Hotel reopened, ‘entirely rebuilt and refurbished’ with steam heat piped to the ‘commodious rooms’. We haven’t traced a permit for the architect of the new hotel, but the rebuild cost $16,000 and the owners then were shows as ‘Boyd & Clendenning’ although we believe they were just the contractors at this point, not the owners. Patrick Gunn pinned down when the rebuild occurred: in July 1907 the Daily World reported “Mr. A.E. Blackburn’s request to be allowed to put up a corrugated iron building for temporary use while the Blackburn hotel is being remodeled could not be complied with as it would be a breach of the building bylaws.” In 1909 rooms on the European Plan could cost as little as 75c a night. A 1913 advertisement, when Mr. Blackburn was still in charge, noted the hotel’s convenient location for Orangemen – the Orange Headquarters were only a block away.

In 1914 Albert was appointed the Province as an Election Commissioner, and had given up his ownership of his hotel, selling it to what the Daily World referenced as ‘Boyd and Clendenning’. In fact, the new owners were Boyd & Clandening; Thomas Boyd, originally from Nova Scotia, and James Clandening from Ontario. The partnership had cleared much of the city, working on contract for both the railway company and the City Council. They cleared Granville street in 1886, worked on the Stanley Park road in 1888 and also on bridges, including the Westminster Avenue bridge. They also helped construct the BC Electric line to Cloverdale and in 1908 the Seymour Creek waterworks.

Invariably Mr. Clandening’s name was wrongly reported; in newspapers, in contracts, in the minutes of the City Council, and in the street directories. The Census however reported the correct spelling in 1901, identifying James, aged 62 with Eliza, his wife who was 17 years younger, and their children Nellie, Norma and Gordon. As early as 1898 (when the street directory managed to spell his name correctly) Mr. Clandening had owned part of the site, basing his contracting business here. At that time there was a grocer’s shop on the corner of Cordova and Westminster Avenue (Main Street) and Gordon Drysdale had his ‘People’s Store’ alongside. In 1903 Drysdale moved his business to Hastings Street and later to new premises that he built on Granville Street. Mr Clandening had first come to British Columbia during the Cassiar gold rush of 1873, but returned west before working on Vancouver Island helping build the E & N Railway in 1884 (when he had a crew of 60 working for him).

Thomas Boyd arrived in BC in 1883, in New Westminster, and helped build the Crow’s Nest Pass for the railway, and before that the Eagle Pass wagon road to help railway construction. He married in 1893, and had two daughters, one who died as a baby. Thomas had another simultaneous partnership, as Boyd and McWhinnie, and they had hired the same architects to build another substantial hotel quite close to here in 1911. He owned that property with Mr. McWhinnie as early as 1886.

In 1914 the partners hired Honeyman and Curtis to totally rebuild the site of the Blackburn Hotel, spending $75,000 and hiring J J Franz to construct the building described as ‘apartments, rooms, 4-storey concrete hotel’. However, it doesn’t look like they followed through, as out 1951 image shows the 1908 brick building still standing. They retained the Balckburn name, and Albert Blackburn was still shown as proprietor in 1916, although Harry Todd was managing the property. In 1918 they spent another $4,500 converting it to apartments, again hiring Honeyman and Curtis for the design work. Initially called the McDonald Apartments, it very quickly switched to the Lanning Apartments, a name it retained until demolition in the early 1950s.

In 1921 they hired the same architects to build on the plot to the south. This time the spent $20,000 to build “Miscellaneous; New; Picture Theatre; 49-ft frontage, 120-ft long; brick & tile with tar & gravel roof; provision made for two small stores on either side of theatre entrance; seating capacity of 450”.

The theatre was run by Mrs Annie Graham, who had been running the Star Theatre on the opposite side of the street since the mid 1910s. Before that it was run by Wilson and Allen, but Mrs. Graham made it a success and wanted to both expand and improve the theatre. When the owners were unwilling to invest, she presumably persuaded Boyd and Clandening to construct a new movie theatre, which continued in use until the 1953 redevelopment. Although her ambitions were for a 600 seat theatre, the new Star had 449 seats. The previous theatre space never reopened as a movie theatre.

Albert Blackburn died of a heart attack in Seattle in 1921, and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery. James Clandening died in 1927, aged around 90, and was also buried in Mountain View. Thomas Boyd died in 1938, aged 81, and was interred in the same cemetery.

Today the former police building is getting a complete makeover as an incubator for tech startup companies.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1399-100.jpg

Tudor Manor – Beach Avenue

Tudor Manor

This curiously Anglicised apartment building was a 1927 design by Townley and Matheson. Sixty years later it got a dramatic makeover when it became a redeveloped condo building with a post-modern tower Tudor manor 1936that kind of references the original design (whose façade was retained in the new project). The Paul Merrick designed tower has peaked gables on the top that mimic the twenties building – although the architect didn’t go quite as far as replicating the fake half-timbered look of the original. (In some ways, that could be seen as a twenties post-modern design flourish on what was really a sizeable four storey apartment box). The architects commissioned this image, which was taken a year after the building was completed. The developers’ agents were McGregor, Creery and Farmer (Wallace S McGregor, Leslie C Creery and Donald W Farmer).

The archives, who have the records of the architectural firm’s output, have an image from 1936 that show that in less than a decade the building was completely covered with foliage – presumably English ivy was selected. It totally hid the ‘Tudor’ half timber features, and changed the appearance of the building quite significantly.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1399-489 and  CVA 99-4913

Posted March 7, 2016 by ChangingCity in Altered, West End

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815 West Hastings Street (1)

815 W Hastings

The Merchant’s Exchange Building was completed in 1923. Designed by Townley and Matheson, it sat on a corner lot (on Hastings and Howe) between two much taller neighbours, the Metropolitan Merchant's Exchange interiorBuilding to the west and Thomas Hooper’s Pacific Coast Building across the lane to the north. We even know what it looked like inside: the Archives has an interior shot, also from 1923 titled “Men working in office of Vancouver Merchants’ Exchange building at 815 West Hastings Street” – although “Men sitting around in a rather stiff self-conscious manner in office of Vancouver Merchants’ Exchange building at 815 West Hastings Street” might be more accurate. When it opened the Daily World announced that “Grain merchants and other tenants are already moving in, and it is expected the building will be fully occupied in a few days”.

It was purchased a few years after its development by G A Stimpson & Co who subsequently developed the Marine Building. (Although based in Toronto, Stimpson’s vice-president was Joe Hobbs, a man described by Eve Lazarus as the founder of “Hobbs Bros, a ship holding company and front for his smuggling activities” who then “went about converting luxury yachts into rum running vessels” during prohibition. The building stood for around 50 years: in 1975 it was replaced with a modest 9-storey red brick office designed by Eng and Wright. The building was designed with the top floor windows curved to match the Metropolitan Building next door – which was very soon demolished and replaced with the Terminal City Club.

Image Sources: City of Vancouver Archives Bu N67.1 and Bu N67.2

Posted November 2, 2015 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Vancouver Motors – Seymour Street (2)

Vancouver Motors 2

As we noted in our previous post, Vancouver Motors had a non-identical twin on West Georgia Street. We saw this building first in an early 2011 post, when we first started this blog. That was a 1926 picture, when the building was only just completed. Here it is again as it looked in 1981, when it was home to Dominion Motors. They were a Ford dealership that operated here until the early 1980s. They replaced the Vancouver Motors Ford dealership some time in the early 1960s (also selling the Mercury line of cars in the 1940s, and Monarch in the 1950s). All three floors of the building were used by the dealership; a 1960s car jockey recalled driving a car that needed to be cleaned and serviced up to the third floor of the building.

Vancouver Motors, Seymour under constructionVancouver Motors VPLThe construction is poured in place concrete: presumably with the embossed lines on the columns incorporated into the mould. There’s an Archives picture of the building under construction, showing how it was built by Poole Construction. Although the current building by-laws don’t allow a gas station underneath a building, that wasn’t always the rule in the city. There was a gas bar across the corner of the building that operated here for many years, although by the 1980s it was part of the showroom. In the 1936 VPL image here it’s shown as being open all night, when gas cost 25 cents (presumably for a gallon).

Some years after the car dealership closed, in the mid 1990s the main floor was taken by Staples as an office supplies store. In the past year the upper floors have been fully restored and are now available as office space. The strange canopy that was initially added to the office store (visible in our 2011 post) has been removed, and the building looks mush closer to how it first looked 90 years ago.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1399-545, CVA 1399-533 and Vancouver Public Library.

Posted October 19, 2015 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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1190 West Georgia Street

1190 W Georgia

Back in 1925, when our ‘before’ shot was taken this was the home of Willis-Kingsley Motors. They sold both new and used vehicles; they were Studebaker dealers, but the sign on the widow also notes “Buying a Used Car From Us Insures Satisfaction – Read the Pledge on Other Windows”. Willis-KingsleyIf the design of the older building looks at all familiar, it may be because Vancouver Motors (also built in 1925) was designed by the same architects, Townley and Matheson – and that’s still standing on Seymour Street, as we saw in one of the very first posts on this blog. (The building has had an extensive make-over since that earlier post). Provincial Motors Ltd were the Studebaker dealers before Willis-Kingsley, we first found them in the street directory in 1923 sharing the same premises as A S French’s garage on West Pender. Before the garage was built there were two houses on this site. Although there’s an article from a few years back that says the company sold Pierce Arrow motor cars in the 1920s and 1930s and then Willys cars and trucks and finally Studebaker products, that’s incorrect. A 1923 Daily World article reviewed the company’s creation (we’ve skipped the part about how dependable and wonderful the cars were): “The local Studebaker agency was officially taken over yesterday by Messrs. Willis and Kingsley. The name of the new firm is the Willis – Kingsley Motors Ltd, 1027 Pender St. W. Mr. C. H. Willis, for the past ten years, has been selling Studebakers in Victoria, associated with Jamieson & Willis, Studebaker dealers in that city, where he is well known as an enthusiastic motorist and an active worker in all movements pertaining to good roads and other interests for the betterment of conditions affecting the motorist. Mr. George Kingsley, who Is equally well known in British Columbia automobile circles, comes from Shawnigan Lake. He is a native son and prominent in athletics in the province. He is a member of the Vancouver Rowing Club and holds the northwest Pacific coast championship for single sculling.” This 1928 advertisement for the company showed the style of the – Made In Canada – Studebakers. The new premises joined several other car dealerships on West Georgia. Technically this location is in the West End, as it’s on the south side of West Georgia, but functionally it feels like it’s part of Downtown. In 1980 the office building that replaced it was completed, designed by Bruno Freschi for Highfield Developments. Initially the corner was a great open space, but later it was filled in to extend the office atrium. Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1399-534

Posted October 15, 2015 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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1376 Hornby Street

1376 Hornby

We previously identified one important architect’s own-designed office that’s still standing last year. Here’s another that, given its modest size, is even less likely to be still standing. How much longer that continues to be true remains to be seen. This was Townley and Matheson’s office, built in 1941 (although not featured in the RAIC Journal until 1948, and so attributed to that date in some sources).

Fred Townley, born in Winnipeg and brought up in Vancouver, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s architecture department in 1911 and had his first designs built here a year later. Robert Matheson was born in PEI, but the family moved to Vancouver where Robert started work as a carpenter before he too headed to the University of Pennsylvania to study architecture, graduating the same year as Townley. On his return to Vancouver he joined his architect father in partnership, and they designed several buildings still standing today – some featured on this blog. Townley and Matheson joined forces in 1919 and became one of the most active architectural firms in the city. Although both were designers, Townley carried out more of the design work while Matheson was said to manage the business and liaise with their clients. They designed the Stock Exchange tower, several schools including Point Grey School, many commercial buildings Downtown and on West Broadway, houses – particularly in Shaughnessy – and of course the new City Hall on West 12th Avenue.

At the height of their success, as City Hall was nearing completion in 1935, Matheson fell ill and died aged only 48. Townley was forced to take over running the company as well as acting as head designer. Matheson’s name was retained on the business (right through to 1974 after both founding partners were dead). This new office was modest in scale but showed the company’s strength in designing clean, modernist structures – continued in many buildings designed by the firm for the Vancouver General Hospital. Townley died in 1966 having helped design over a thousand buildings, almost all in Vancouver.

Today the building is recently abandoned – last used for many years as part of Umberto Menghi’s il Giardino restaurant. Although that business is reported to be reopening elsewhere, it’s reported that the old premises have been sold, and rumours suggest redevelopment will be proposed, although the 1888 Leslie House (just visible on the edge of the photo) is on the Vancouver Heritage Registry.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1399-411

Posted March 10, 2014 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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McLuckie Building – West Georgia Street

McLuckie Building

This building has been tucked away beside another we’ve looked at in several earlier posts – the Johnston-Howe Block. This is the Georgia Street neighbour, the McLuckie Building, on the corner of Howe Street. It wasn’t built until 1931 and was designed by Townley and Matheson for Robert Macfarlane McLuckie, son of J M McLuckie, one of the city’s more prolific builders, and sometime developer. It doesn’t appear that there was an earlier building on the site until this one; almost unheard of for Vancouver. Once the Courts moved from today’s Victory Square to the Georgia Street Courthouse, the lawyers moved as well, and this building (like one earlier on Hastings Street) became known as the Inns of Court Building. As a two-storey building it didn’t warrant an elevator, so the lawyers and their clients had to climb the stairs.

Cull 1961This 1932 Vancouver Public Library image shows the building soon after its completion. The retail tenants were Norman G Cull (an opticians who also had a Victoria store), the Georgia Pharmacy and The New York Fur Co (who moved up the street from the next building). Cull’s opticians store moved here from Granville Street, and they stayed here until the 1960s. In the 1930s Norman G Cull was president of the company, and Frederick Cull was treasurer.

As well as lawyers including Lawrence & Shaw, and Soskin & Levin the Northern Pacific Railway had their office in the Inns of Court Building when it opened. R M McLuckie had his own office here, as well as the Knit to Fit Manufacturing Co. The Georgia Garage shared the same address, but were located at the back of the building. (There was another repair garage next door on Howe Street, the Madill Garage).

Tenancies here changed far less than most buildings we look at. As well as Cull’s opticians store, in 1950 the Georgia Pharmacy and New York Furs were still here, joined by the office of the Great Northern Railway and Anne Moloney’s ladies ware store. Upstairs Mr McLuckie still had his office, although now he was listed as being in real estate rather than contracting. There were six barristers with offices, but also the Picardy Beauty Salon and F C Bosman – a metaphysical healer.

The building was eventually acquired by the city for the assembly of the entire block that became the Pacific Centre Mall – at this point it’s the rotunda entrance to the retail part of the mall and the entrance to the Four Seasons Hotel.

David Banks has alerted us to what was on the site before the McLuckie was built – yet another Downtown gas station, this one run by Union Gasoline. It’s obvious in the foreground of this 1930 high-level shot.

Georgia and Howe c1930

Image Sources: Vancouver Public Library and City of Vancouver Archives  CVA Hot P2

Posted March 3, 2014 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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