Archive for the ‘Townley and Matheson’ Tag

West Hastings Street – 100 block, south side (2)

We saw the buildings to the east of this part of the 100 block of West Hastings in an earlier post. We’ve also looked at most of these buildings in greater detail over the years. The tallest building in the group is the Stock Exchange Building, an 8 storey steel-framed building on a 25 foot wide lot, costing $75,000 to build and designed by J S Helyer and Son in 1909. The two storey building to the east (on the left) is The Province Building, which we revisted in a second post. It started life in 1898 as the offices of the Province Newspaper, Walter Nichol’s Victoria newspaper that moved into Vancouver. It was given a new lease of life in the 1920s as a retail store known as ‘The Arcade’, and today’s façade is Townley and Matheson redesign for that purpose. Both the Stock Exchange, which today is non-market housing, and the Province building have been given a recent make-over, with furniture store Structube moving into the retail space. Our 1981 image below shows that it was a furniture store in a previous incarnation. In 1940 (above) there was Singer sewing machine dealer, and the office building had become The Ray Building.

The black and white almost matching three storey buildings to the west are 152 and 156 W Hastings. The westernmost is older, built in 1901 for Jonathan Rogers, and costing $10,000. It was designed by Parr and Fee. 152 West Hastings, next door, was built in 1904 and designed by William Blackmore and Son. It cost $8,000 and the developer was E Rogers – Elizabeth, Jonathan Rogers’ wife, who had married Jonathan in 1902. Long the home of the Trocadero Grill, today it has office space over retail.

The one building we haven’t researched is 150 West Hastings, and we don’t know who designed or developed the building. It’s the 3 storey building between the Stock Exchange and Rogers buildings. It’s been cleaned up – in 1979 the brickwork had been painted over and the store was ‘Save-On Surplus’. It was repaired in 1920 by Cope and Sons, who hired Gardiner and Mercer and spent $2,000 on fixing it up, and the same owners carried out more repairs in 1916. In 1911 the Vancouver Electric Company added an electric frame sign, but we don’t know who that was for. In 1903, when it was supposedly built, T Grey, a tailor had a store here, as well as Ernest Easthope (senior), who repaired bicycles. (His son, also called Ernest, was a teamster). Today there’s a yoga studio, with offices upstairs.

Image sources City of Vancouver Archives CVA 586-2574 and CVA 779-E16.21

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De Beck Block – 366 West Hastings

 

This prominent corner of Hastings and Homer has a surprisingly modest building today, but earlier there were two more flamboyant buildings. On the right was the O’Brien Hall, where Professor William O’Brien taught dance (as we saw in the previous post). The one on the left was designed by W T Dalton for George Ward DeBeck. It was completed in 1898, when Mr. DeBeck was a partner in Mackinnon, Beck & Co, (real estate agents) and lived on Hornby Street.

He was born at Woodstock, New Brunswick in 1849, and after leaving school travelled to California, where he worked in sawmills. He later joined his family, who had moved to British Columbia. His father had moved to New Westminster in 1868, working as a logger, but died in a logging accident two years later. There were three other DeBeck brothers, and they collectively built the Brunette Saw Mills in Sapperton in 1874. In 1877 George was in New Westminster, working at the Brunette Sawmill Co where H L DeBeck was manager and Clarence DeBeck foreman. By 1881 the mill was cutting 50,000 feet of lumber a day, and employing 30 workers. Their lumber at the time came from a camp on Pitt Lake. George DeBeck had already tired of the lumber business – in 1880 he was running a hotel in Yale. In the census a year later his wife and two children also lived in Yale, but not at the hotel.

While a 1914 biography suggested Mr. DeBeck married in 1887, a later newspaper article clarified that it was in 1877, when his wife-to-be was only aged 16, and still attending a convent in New Westminster. Some references suggest she was the first white child born in New Westminster. Having hired a cab, and a tugboat, Mr. DeBeck spirited his wife-to-be away from her school Sunday morning walk, and hurried to Port Townsend in Washington where they married. To ensure there was no chase, it was reported that Mr. DeBeck arranged for the telegraph lines to be cut.

After the hotel in Yale the family moved south, with George working in the timber trade, initially in Washington. In 1883 the family were in The Dalles, Oregon, where Edward (“Ned”) Keary DeBeck was born. Two years later Leonora Alsea Debeck was born in Yaquinna, Oregon. The family moved on to Idaho, then in 1886 returned to Canada, and to Vancouver in 1891, where G W DeBeck was listed as a timber speculator. In 1895, a son, Ward was born. and two years later Viola, who would become one of the earliest women law students in British Columbia. At this point George had moved on again, and instead of lumber now held interests in mining. At this point he was listed as ‘broker’ – as he was involved in real estate as well as mining. He developed the West Hastings building which soon included tenants as varied as Vogel’s Commercial College, the French Consulate, and the local office of Imperial Oil.

George’s next adventure was a government appointment, as Indian Agent in Alert Bay on Cormorant Island, off Vancouver Island. He held the job for four years, then returned to Vancouver, and the timber cruising and logging business. At the end of 1939 George and Emma moved to Victoria, British Columbia to live with their son, Ned, but Emma died that year, on December 31. George returned to Vancouver, where he died in 1943. You can read far more about George, and his family, on WestEnd Vancouver.

When he died, his building (seen here in 1940 with the Pall Mall Café) had been demolished, replaced with the less ornate building seen today. There was a Bank of Montreal branch on the corner from 1928 and the replacement was built in two phases, with the bank occupying the eastern half (where the DeBeck Building had been) before moving into the western corner once the entire building was completed. We weren’t certain who designed the 1940 building, but the style is reminiscent of the buildings designed by Townley and Matheson for the Vancouver General Hospital around this time and in 1940 they designed a business block for Dr. Worthington at Homer and Hastings. Patrick Gunn dug out the 1940 permit, and it was indeed those architects for Doctor Worthington, who owned the Vancouver Drug Company. Today it’s part of the campus of the Vancouver Film School, suffering somewhat by the addition of an extremely brutal tubular canopy.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu N135

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Posted June 13, 2019 by ChangingCity in Gone, Victory Square

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O’Brien Hall – West Hastings and Homer

The tenants of this building, William and Gertrude O’Brien, were so identified with it that it was named for them in the photo captions in the Library and Archives collections. Actually it pre-dated their involvement, and started life called the ‘British Columbia Land and Investment Agency Building’. Built in 1892, it was designed by Fripp and Wills. In the early years it was home to the Moodyville Land and Sawmill Co. Up to 1898 the building was also called the “Metropolitan Club Block” and sometimes the “Metropolitan Block”.

This early image was shot in 1898 (when the sidewalk was still wooden). The developer, The B.C. Land and Investment Agency were a London-based Real Estate and Insurance Agency which at one time were said to own or control half the real estate in Victoria.

The O’Brien’s were from Ontario; William from Nobleton and Gertrude from Barrie. They married in 1892, and moved west two years later. When he married, William was a musician, but on arrival in Vancouver he styled himself a “Professor of Dancing,” opening a dancing academy on an upper floor of this building. In 1894 the Daily World reported an ‘At Home’, where 40 couples danced until midnight, when luncheon was served, and then danced on again ’till morn’. Gertrude also taught dancing. In 1894 it was reported “Mrs. W.E. O’Brien, teacher of society dancing, is about to commence her children’s class, during which all the popular society dances will be taught, as well as some very artistic dances suitable for children’s exhibitions. For terms apply at academy, corner of Homer and Hastings streets.”

The O’Brien’s had four daughters – two sets of twins. In the 1920s they lived on Denman Street, and the 1921 census showed Gertrude no longer taught dance, and William was listed as proprietor of the hall for his occupation, although he was still listed in the street directory as ‘dancing master’. There’s more detail about the family on WestEnd Vancouver.

The hall was used for a variety of purposes: the first suffrage convention in the city was held here in 1911. The Pacific Lodge of the Oddfellows first met here in 1894, before moving to another hall nearby on Hamilton Street. In 1907 the first meeting of the Vancouver Automobile Club was held. The first official club rally was held on Labour Day, 1907 with a run around Stanley Park, where eleven cars started but only five cars made it all the way around. That same year the Canada Lumberman and Woodworker reported, rather mysteriously a “HOO-HOO IN BRITISH COLUMBIA. A Rousing Concatenation Held at Vancouver Last Month. On Friday, August the ninth, the mystic Black Cat again held court on the roof, in Vancouver, when the timorous purring of thirty-two unregenerated kittens was mingled with the yowls and caterwauls of nearly a hundred old cats. The session took place in O’Brien’s Hall, Hastings street. Snark J. D. Moody was again in evidence as leader

From 1928 the corner tenant of the main floor of the building was the Bank of Montreal. By 1930 the O’Brien’s were no longer shown in the street directory, and Wrigley’s Directory were the lessees of the O’Brien Hall. William and Gertrude were living in Vancouver again in 1939, in retirement, and Gertrude died in Vancouver in, 1951, and was buried in Mountain View Cemetery. William died in 1957, and was buried with her.

In 1940 a new branch of the Bank of Montreal had been built here, with the Bank occupying the eastern half of the partly-completed new building on a temporary basis, while the western (corner) unit was completed, and they were able to occupy their long term location. We didn’t know for certain who designed the 1940 building, but the style is similar to the buildings designed by Townley and Matheson for the Vancouver General Hospital around this time. In 1940 Townley and Matheson designed a business block for Dr. Worthington at Homer and Hastings, and as the other three corner buildings are all earlier than 1940, and still standing today, it seemed pretty clear that this is their work, and the building Permit from 1940 confirms that the $60,000 building was their work. Dr George Worthington was president of the Vancouver Drug Co, and in 1937 chaired the annual of the Vancouver Tourist Association dinner. Today the building is part of the Vancouver Film School.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 371-2041

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Beatty Street – 500 block (2)

We looked at most of the older buildings in this image (but on the Beatty Street side) in one of our earliest posts. The front of the buildings are quite a bit shorter than they are on this side – the back of the warehouses are mostly three storeys taller. Today most of them are taller still, as residential conversion has also seen a couple of lightweight penthouse floors added on top.

 

This 1918 image by Frank Gowen shows that the rail tracks ran right up to the back of the buildings, and covered the area developed in the 1990s as International Village. Today’s SkyTrain tracks run at right angles to those original freight tracks: that’s the vault of Stadium station in the left foreground.

At the end of the block is the Sun Tower (as it’s still known today, althought the Vancouver Sun has moved offices at least three times in the decades since they occupied this building). It was built for the Daily World newspaper, with offices above a printing works, and was briefly claimed as the tallest building in the British Empire (although tallest in Canada is more likely). W T Whiteway designed it in 1910, and it opened in 1912, just as the city hit a serious recession, leaving most of the additional office space intended to make the project pay, empty.

Alongside are the Storey and Cambell warehouse, also by W T Whiteway and built in 1911, and next door Richard Bowman’s warehouse that today has a Townley and Matheson designed façade after a 1944 fire. We looked at the histories of both of the buildings a couple of years ago. Next door, the Crane building had Somervell & Putnam as architects and cost over $120,000 in 1911. In 2008, like the Bowman and Storey warehouses it was converted to residential use, with two tall penthouse floors added (as this 1972 image comparison shows).

The shortest building in the 1918 image is now taller, after a comprehensive reconstruction in 1983 designed by Bruno Freschi of the 1906 Mainland Warehouse to create residential lofts. Originally designed (we think) by Honeyman and Curtis, a rebuilt back façade saw the face of the building moved back to create balconies in a grid of brick piers. The top two floors of the original building were added in 1928, but extra height was added again in the conversion.

Today, 560 Beatty is the least changed, and shortest building. It dates back to 1909, when it was built by J M McLuckie for Fred Buscombe, at a cost of $35,000. In 1899 he bought out James A Skinner and Co, china and glass importers, originally founded in Hamilton, and changed the name to Buscombe & Co. He was at different times President of the city’s Board of Trade, and Mayor of Vancouver in 1905. He was also president of the Pacific Coast Lumber & Sawmills Company, and director of the Pacific Marine Insurance Company.

Next door, 564 Beatty now has an extra four office floors, but it started life much shorter (with just a single floor on Beatty Street) developed by Jonathan Rogers – with an unknown architect. In 1912 J P Matheson designed an additional two storeys for Robert A Welsh, and the office floors (designed by IBI) were added in 2014. In 1918 there was a warehouse next door, but today it’s a set of stairs running down to International Village and the T&T Supermarket, and the SkyTrain station. It was first occupied by Robertson Godson Co who had hired Parr and Fee to design the $35,000 building in 1909.

Image source CVA 1135-4

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Granville Street – 800 block, east side

This is a view that will probably change a lot in the near future. The owners are reported to be contemplating redevelopment of the first three or four buildings from the corner of Robson Street. The building on the corner is from 1922, designed by Townley & Matheson for the Service Investment Co, costing $31,000. For now it’s the Lennox pub, with the closing Payless shoes alongside and upstairs.

Next door is a small building recently occupied on a temporary basis by Indigo Books. It was designed by Parr and McKenzie for Mrs. Sophia Cameron in 1912, built by E J Ryan and cost $12,000 to build. We don’t really know much about Mrs. Cameron. She’s not obvious in the 1911 census record, but there was a Mrs. Sophia Cameron living near here in 1901. She didn’t appear in the street directory, but her son, Maxwell did. He was listed as a clerk at Woodward’s departmental store, although he seems to have managed the clothing department. A few years later he established his own clothing store on Cordova Street, and moved from 404 Robson to the West End, first to further west on Robson in 1909, then to Thurlow by 1911. He is also unidentifiable in the 1911 Census. Both Sophia, who was 50 in 1901, and Max, who was 25, were shown born in Ontario, and Sophia was listed in 1901 as being on the Women’s Voting List.

Maxwell still had his clothing store, and still lived on Thurlow in 1921, so we can find him in the census of that year, and Sophia, his mother is still living with him, although twenty years after the 1901 census she’s only fifteen years older. In 1891 they had been living in Brantford, Ontario, where Sophia was already a widow, aged 40, and 16-year old Maxwell was working as a clerk.

Next is a four storey building, designed by Braunton & Leibert in 1913 for R A Allen. The 4-storey apartment and retail building, now known as the Clancy Building, cost $35,000. When it opened, the second establishment of Allen’s Café was here, and Robert A Allen was associated with the business, although the owner was listed as Osro M Allen. The Province newspaper clarified their relationship: R A Allen died in 1929, and he bequeathed $110,000 to his brother, Osro. “The assets include a lot at 814 Granville Street, worth $100 000. which is subject to a mortgage, so that the estate’s equity amounts to $79,720“. Osro’s father, and his wife, were both American, but Osro himself was born in Canada. In 1921 they were living in Point Grey (on Granville Street) and his American born children, George (29) and Jeanette were at home. Jeanette was divorced, with a two year old daughter, Elizabeth. Osro and his family had arrived in Canada, (presumably from the USA) in 1913. Robert was single, living on Hastings Street, and ten years older than his brother. He was born in Quebec, and was already running Allen’s Café and Rooms on West Hastings when his brother moved to Vancouver. He had originally run Allen’s Café at an earlier address on West Hastings from 1906.

Next to the Clancy Building was the Capitol Theatre. In its 1922 design it had a simple arched window. That was altered to a more contemporary (for the time) design in the 1940s, and it was redesigned again before the theatre finally closed in 2006. A simple glazed retail box replaced it, and another was built next door two years later.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E02.28

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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). Vancouver entrepreneur and rum-runner J W Hobbs who managed Stimson’s West Coast activities paid $400,000 for the building in 1927. Stimson’s bought the site with the intention of tearing down the recently completed building to construct the Marine Building, then discovered it was a profitable enterprise and instead bought the site at the end of the street.

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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729 Hamilton Street

Fire Hall No. 1 was probably newly built when this 1950s image was shot. We wouldn’t know who had designed the third location of the city’s Fire Hall No. 1 if the picture wasn’t listed as part of the Townley and Matheson fonds, in the Archives collection. The building replaced the Cordova Street fire hall, which in turn had replaced the first building on Water Street. It was only here for about 20 years; in 1975 the new Heatley Street Fire Hall No. 1 was opened, and Fire Hall No. 8 was opened further down Hamilton Street in 1974 to retain a Downtown fire fighting base – the land for that building having been acquired in 1971 for $60,000!

Here’s another view of the building, designed in the international style, and seen here in 1962. The equipment is on display because the Fire Department had taken delivery of a new set of fire trucks. The urgency to move the relatively new facility was to facilitate ‘The Federal Block’ – an anticipated major government investment proposed in the early 1970s. The entire block, by 1981, was a vacant parking lot, but the project never materialized, and finally, in 1995, Moshe Safdie’s design for the new Vancouver Public Library Central Branch was completed. The Federal Government contributed to the library project by agreeing to lease the corner office tower, and some upper floors, for 20 years. The tower is still Federal offices, but the upper floors of the main building have now been converted to library use, with public access possible very soon to the rooftop garden.

Image sources: City of Vancouver CVA 1399-461 and CVA 354-260

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Posted September 17, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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