Archive for the ‘Townsend & Townsend’ Tag
The New World Hotel (also known as the Tamura Building) was built in 1912, although not completed until a year later, and featured one of Townsend & Townsend’s most exuberant set of added details. By the early 1970s, some of these had been lost, as our ‘before’ image shows. After extensive renovations and restoration funded by BC Housing, those details have recently reappeared. They include the huge and elaborate gabled roof top pediments, that the architects also originally added to a residential block in Mount Pleasant, as well as seven feet high vases.
The Townsends were father and son, (although published biographies suggest they were brothers), probably from Manchester and only in the city from 1909 to 1913. Their client here was Shinkichi Tamura, a Japanese businessman who emigrated, first to Victoria in 1888 aged 25 where he worked for a sulphur producing company who made him their purchasing agent, operating from Hokkaido. He was from a samurai family from Kumamoto, and apprenticed to a textile shop in Osaka at the age of 13. When the sulphur business went bankrupt in 1891 he moved back to Canada, this time to Vancouver. He initially worked in a sawmill, but soon established an import business, shipping (among other things) rice, soybeans, silk and oranges. He added an export element to his business, shipping salmon and lumber back to Japan. He was able to grow his business when he received a $150,000 insurance payment from a shipment of salmon that was lost at sea.
In 1903 Tamura was asked by the Canadian government to help sell Canadian goods to Japan. He advised on the Canadian pavilion at the Osaka exhibition where the star of the show was a bakery producing bread baked from Canadian wheat – a food item little known in the country at the time. Tamura Shokai, his trading company, was the exporter of the wheat to Japan. He was Canada’s first trade commissioner to Japan, and was listed in the 1911 edition of Who’s Who in Western Canada, the only Japanese represented in the publication.
He added banking to his businesses, founding Nikka Chochiku K K, in 1907, looking after the earnings of the Japanese community and arranging transfers of money back to Japan. His business was initially based on Granville Street, rather than in the Japanese community on the east side. That changed after he built the Tamura Building, which housed his businesses downstairs and the World Hotel above.
Tamura had returned to Japan by 1918 – the year he filed a US Patent for the design of an automobile suspension system. He became president of the Kobe Board of Trade, as well as a member of both the Japanese House of Representatives, and the House of Peers. As Baron Tamura he was an important figure in Tokyo in the 1920s. His business continued in Japan and in Vancouver (and Seattle) with family members representing the company. He died in 1936.
Today Tamura House has regained its New World Hotel entrance and is a rehabilitated Single Room Occupancy hotel. Managed by Lookout Emergency Aid Society, it provides 105 units for people who are struggling with issues such as addiction or mental health that put them at risk of homelessness. Thirty five units are for residents in the Tamura House Tenancy Program which offers staff support, such as advocacy and medication dispensing, seven days a week.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives W E Graham CVA 1135-15
When this apartment building was first completed it was known as the Mount Stephen Block. The architecture features the trademark brick patterning used by Townsend & Townsend, with one of the most flamboyant pressed metal cornice designs ever built in the city. ‘Exploring Vancouver also noted that ‘Two immodest female figures energetically support the heavy pediment’. The owner, and builder of the $60,000 project on the corner of Quebec St was W D Muir.
We’ve seen a number of the Townsend’s other projects in the city. Many had the Argyle checker pattern in red, on a buff background. They used the same design on warehouses and apartments throughout the city. Although published biographies suggest they were brothers, our research suggests they were father and son, probably from Manchester. They were only in the city from 1909 to 1913, but managed to design buildings worth over $800,000.
W D Muir was initially a grocer in Mount Pleasant; his premises were close to the flatiron where Main and Kingsway meet at 8th Avenue and he was a pioneer, establishing his grocery and bakery around 1896. He dropped the grocery, not only producing thousands of loaves, but in 1903 patenting the oven he used to bake them. In 1904 the ‘Mount Pleasant Advocate’ announced that he had added another oven, and could now turn out over 1,000 loaves of bread in an hour. In 1905, when flour prices increased by $1 a barrel, W D Muir announced that he had $3,000 of flour on hand, and so could continue to feed Vancouver for a while longer without raising prices.
In 1908 Wiliam is already listed as retired; he had sold the bakery business a year or two earlier to Hanbury Evans & Co. In 1909 he sold the large brick ‘Muir Block’ on the corner of Westminster (Main) and 8th, and he obtained the permit to build this apartment block in 1911, with completion a year later.
The 1901 census tells us Mr Muir was from Quebec, born in 1856, while his wife Jane was from Ontario and a year younger. Their six year old son, Thomas, had been born in British Columbia. The household was large – there were seven lodgers, two who presumably worked for William as they were bakers, and a domestic servant. Duncan Muir was one of the lodgers, aged 21, a teamster (as were two others). By 1911 he’s shown born in 1854, and while Jane is a year younger her birth date is shown as 1850, showing census clerks couldn’t necessarily calculate accurately. William is shown as retired, living on income (presumably from selling his business, and a little later from rent). Their domestic was shown as Florence Muir, who was 28, and James and Jennie Muir, William’s niece and nephew were also living in the family. Jennie was aged 14, but James was 53 and working in a bakery as a stableman.
The Mount Stephen Apaertments switched at some point in the 1950s to be an ‘apartment hotel and rooms’. It subsequently reverted to being a rental building that by 1979 was run down. The landlord of the day looked to add a massive rent increase, and the tenants fought it. With Federal financial support they formed a co-op and bought and renovated the building in 1980. The co-op later purchased the lot next door to add a yard, garden and parking space. With their new name, the Quebec Manor Co-op continues to offer 32 affordable rental apartments.
Image source: City of Vancouver archives CVA SGN 1028
Until 1985 the George Rooms sat behind Charles Woodward’s Vancouver Main Street store that stood on the corner of East Georgia. The building was designed, as far as we can tell, by Townsend & Townsend for D C McLaren (of 646 Main Street) and built at a cost of $40,000 by E J Ryan. When it was built in 1912 East Georgia was still called Harris Street, and the building was described in the Daily Building Record as a five-storey brick store & rooming house. D C McLaren was a saddler and harness maker – the Museum of Vancouver has some of his work. He was also the Provincial Grand Master of the Orange Lodge of BC. David Carlson McLaren was born in Ontario in 1868, his wife Mildred came from Quebec, and in 1911 they had a 12-year-old son at home called Raleigh, who had been born in Kamloops in 1898. Mr. McLaren’s business was on Main Street, but he lived on Woodland Drive. David McLaren died in 1943, having last worked as a leather worker in 1922. His wife Mildred died in 1950, aged 83, and their son Raleigh McLaren died in 1966, aged 67, at Ganges in Saltspring Island, having worked in construction as a bridgeman according to his death certificate.
The rooms changed name in the very early years. They started out as the Mori Rooms, but in 1914 they were the Apex Rooms run by Mr. McLaren himself – a name they retained into the 1920s. By 1975 the building had clearly deteriorated, but was returning (briefly) to active service as a 73-room SRO hotel. A Council report in 1975 on “Derelict Buildings in Skid Road – 205-15 East Georgia Street” stated that “The Fire Chief reports as follows: These premises are now fully sprinklered and at the time of writing this report the building is almost ready for complete occupancy. There are some minor routine Bylaw requirements to be completed but otherwise the premises may be occupied at any time.” The rooms continued in use until 1984, and were demolished in 1985 to make way for the 8-storey strata parkade, retail and office building that’s there today.
Here’s another of the diamond-decorated Townsend and Townsend buildings that they designed between 1908 and 1913. They used the motif on many, but not all of their buildings, irrespective of the use. The previous post showed a rooming house on Granville Street – this is a warehouse. It cost $26,000 to build and was built by William McPherson in 1912 – this picture shows it two years later.
We’re reasonably certain that the most likely of the several William McPhersons who were living in the city at the time was a Scottish canneryman, who co-owned the Dinsmore Island Cannery with William Hickey. In 1911 he was aged 58, living with his wife Jessie and their domestic, Jane Hastings. Ten years earlier they had a different domestic, Tommy Kado. The cannery was sold to British Columbia Packers Association and Hickey partnered with Robert Kelly (of Kelly, Douglas) to obtain the exclusive rights to seine fish the Smith Inlet salmon run. McPherson had been a partner in an earlier cannery – a very much earlier cannery in Steveston called the Lulu Island cannery which ran from 1891 to 1895 before it was sold and renamed the London Cannery, (it had been demolished by 1911). The 1901 census tells us that William had arrived from Scotland in 1872, while Jessie arrived much later in 1893. William died unexpectedly in 1917.
In the picture the tenants were Bernet Bros; Joseph, Ernest and Martin Bernet were from New York, merchants whose warehouse was initially on Cordova, then Granville in 1911 and finally here. Joseph had started in Vancouver as a financial and real estate broker around 1910 in partnership as Bernet and Helm, and from 1918 to 1919 was a wholesale jeweler in a different partnership, Bernet and Gluck. Bernet Brothers seem to have ceased operations in 1914 when they were described as electrical wholesalers and Martin and Ernest Bernet were in partnership as Ernest & Martin Bernet that year. In 1916 G R Gregg & Co occupied the building, wholesaling Japanese Goods and European Silks, with Herbert Geddes as manager. They had moved here from the Buscombe Building, two buildings to the west.
Image Source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA LGN 983
Here’s a pair of Granville Street buildings – one that’s still standing, and one that’s no longer there. The Rialto hotel at 1140 Granville (as it was called in our 1978 picture) was built in 1912 by R G Wilson & Son for Mrs. Clough at a cost of $21,000, and the tell-tale diamond brick pattern identifies it as the work of Townsend & Townsend, a British-born father and son partnership with considerable success in the five years they were in the city.
When the building was first completed these were the London Rooms, run by Amie Hiquebran. Mrs. Clough was Laura A Clough who in 1911 lived at 848 Howe Street with her son, Henry. Laura was an American who had arrived in 1909 and whose occupation was listed as ‘none’ on the 1911 census. In 1910 there was no sign of her, although Henry was listed as a student, living on Hornby Street. She came from Concord, New Hampshire, was called Clough before her marriage (in 1880) to George Clough, and it appears that both Laura and Henry shaved 10 years off their true ages in the 1911 census as she was born in 1842 (not 1853 as she claimed) and Henry Blaine Clough was born in 1884 (and not 1894). Laura was already head of the household in 1900 when she was still in New Hampshire, probably because George was aged 63 or 64 when he married 38 year-old Laura.
Assuming there was only one George Clough in Concord, New Hampshire, George worked as a conductor on the Concord Railroad for over 20 years, and accumulated a significant fortune including a number of property investments. In 1865 he was accused of stealing from his employer, who sought $100,000 in restitution. The verbatim court record shows that Mr Clough had allowed some passengers to travel without payment, but with the approval of company managers. The local newspaper reported that, on being ordered to repay just over $12,000 in total, he considered the outcome to be a moral victory. In the process of the hearing Mr. Clough’s entire assets were revealed, valued at $127,000. His first wife, Eliza, died in 1874 and he remarried to Laura in 1880; Laura had been the schoolteacher in Concord in the 1860s. Mrs Clough was missing from the street directory in 1913 when the building was occupied, although there’s one mention of a Mrs. Clough in a 1914 newspaper. We haven’t found what happened to her or where she moved to after leaving Vancouver, although it looks as if Henry may have moved to Australia, got married and had a son also called Henry.
The building that’s still standing was the Clowes Building, designed and owned by J Clowes. According to the permit it was built by J Hoffmeister at a cost of $18,000. John Clowes was living in Richmond in 1911, but in Vancouver in 1901. He was listed in the 1911 census as a carpenter, born in Quebec in 1849. He had lived at the address where the building was constructed from as far back as the early 1890s, in the city from the late 1880s, and was probably the John Clowes who died in Burnaby in 1922.
The Rialto was replaced by the first new market rental building in some years, developed with incentives from City Council to encourage more rental housing, ‘The Standard’.
Here’s Royal Mansions in the West End, on Pacific. It was built in 1912, but in 1938 when this Vancouver Public Library image was taken it was still in great condition. It was designed by a British-born father and son architectural team, Townsend & Townsend. They only used two colours of brick on their buildings; red and buff, but generally they liked to mix the two with huge diamond shaped red motifs on a buff ground. Uniquely, as far as we know, this is all red – and has some fancy rustic stonework on the corners as relief. The building permit says it cost $80,000 to build for M B Wilkinson. The Townsends were only in the city for a few years, from 1908 to 1913, but they were responsible for designing at least 25 buildings worth over $800,000 in that period. They may have come from Manchester, and disappeared from the city as the economy started to face serious decline. We think Alfred Townsend (who might have been christened Joseph, like his father) may have fought in the First World War, and possibly returned to the US after the war. This seems to be the most expensive project that the partners designed.
In 1887 a new company was incorporated – the ‘Vancouver Brick and Tile Company Limited’. The five Trustee shareholders made an interesting group: David and Isaac Oppenheimer, the Gastown merchants who controlled much of the land in the Old Granville Townsite, George Black; pioneer butcher who would become a hotel-owner, Sam Brighouse, one of the ‘three Greenhorns’ who bought 222 acres of land now making up today’s West End, and W H Armstrong – a local contractor. The Canadian Mining Manual for 1890-91 shows that the company – at least briefly – were in production, manufacturing 750,000 bricks in 1889, and that the company secretary was M B Wilkinson.
A complicated court case that lasted for many years revealed the relationship between Mr. Wilkinson, and Mr. Brighouse, and their involvement in the Royal Mansions. Michael Wilkinson by the point the case was settled (in 1929) was known as Michael Wilkinson Brighouse – he changed his name as a result of a requirement of Sam Brighouses’s will. Michael was Sam’s nephew; Sam had no wife or children, Michael came to Vancouver in 1888 at the age of 24, settled with Sam on his Lulu Island farm, and eventually took over running Sam’s extensive business and property interests. Michael’s mother (Sam’s sister) kept house.
We know what Sam and Michael looked like from an Archives image that shows them setting up a bar in the hollow tree (something the Park Board haven’t contemplated). The photograph shows Michael Wilkinson, Sam Brighouse, William Beech, A. McCallum (serving drinks) and others around 1890.
A 1906 will left most of Sam’s assets (worth over $700,000 at his death) to Michael, but Sam was ill a couple of years later, had a prostate operation in 1908 and returned to England in 1911 in poor health. He died there in 1913, soon after changing his will to leave Michael the Richmond farm (on condition that he couldn’t sell it), and all the other property to other relatives. The court case (brought by Frederick Morton on behalf of Sam’s estate) eventually determined that this final version of the will was the legal one, leaving Michael merely extremely well off, rather than very, very wealthy. It also showed that as well as managing a company called the Royal Ice and Dairy Company on his uncle’s behalf, in 1912 Michael had developed Royal Mansions at a cost of over $80,000 on Sam’s land. The judgement allotted Sam’s estate $30,000 of value and Michael and his brother Arthur mortgages of $25,000 each. on which interest was paid. The initial court case in 1916 created this arrangement – the final 1929 Supreme Court judgement appears to have reversed it. Michael ran Richmond’s Minoru Race Track on its opening in 1909, and he married – in 1921 the Daily World reported “Mrs. M. B. Wilkinson of the Royal Mansions entertained at the tea hour on Wednesday”.
Here’s the Toronto Dominion Bank that used to stand on the corner of Robson and Burrard as it appeared in 1974. We’ve recently added a little more information on our previous look at this corner when it had retail stores built for Alfred Perry. In 1939 architects Palmer and Bow were hired to design the bank here – apparently two storeys instead of the single storey it replaced. In practice it was William Bow who was hired; his partner Bernard Palmer had died in 1936, but Bow kept the practice name unchanged. Bow was trained in Glasgow and headed to British Columbia in 1913 after he had come second in the design competition for the University of British Columbia. (Technically it was his brother who came second; William drew up the design, but it was entered in the name of his brother Douglas, who was already in Vancouver).
The single storey retail store is almost certainly the Townsend & Townsend designed $1,500 brick store built by J P Foreshore for Mr Perry in 1911. There was another permit for an $800 addition issued only a week later than the first to the same architect and owner, so perhaps the building became a little more ambitious.
The single storey retail stores across Burrard also date back to 1911, designed by Parr and Fee for Cicero Davidson. While that store lives on (with a contemporary façade), the bank was replaced in 1998 with a retail building designed by W T Leung.
Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 778-34