Archive for the ‘William Blackmore’ Tag

Granville Street – 800 block, west side (2)

This 1974 image of Granville Street looking north shows the edge of today’s McDonalds restaurant, the second building from the Smithe Street intersection. It was originally developed by William Catto in 1911, who we think was a Yukon doctor and mine-owner. In 1974 it was a camera store. The Plaza cinema next door dates back to 1936, designed by Thomas L Kerr, but there had been a cinema here, the Maple Leaf, from 1908. In 1974 it had become the Odeon, before the redevelopment of the adjacent buildings as a larger cinema, and more recently it has become the Venue nightclub, hosting live music and DJs.

To the north is one of the older buildings on Granville, the Vermilyea Block No. 2. (Block No. 1 was a block further south). William Blackmore designed the ornate 3-storey building in 1893 for John Vermilyea, one of the earlier settlers who arrived from Ontario in 1876 and initially had a farm in Richmond. In 1913 it became the Palms Hotel, converted for new owner F T Andrews, and run as a hotel for many years. In the 1980s the Palms was demolished, although the facade was restored and incorporated into a new Odeon Cinema, (which in turn closed several years ago).

Next door, in 1974, was a single storey building, built in 1920. It can be seen slightly better in this 1946 image (right). The permit says it was built for J F Mahon and designed by Edwards & Ames. It cost a remarkably precise $16,266. Edwards and Ames were agents, not architects, often representing the interests of members of the Mahon family. In 1974 it had a deco gothic 1935 façade, rather than the 1920 original, which was apparently designed by Thomas Kerr.

John Fitzgerald Mahon was an early Vancouver investor, who arrived in 1889 but soon returned to England leaving his brother, Edward, to look after his extensive interests in British Columbia, including lands on the North Shore and a mining town in Kootneys he named Castlegar, after his Irish ancestral home. (Edward Mahon purchased and developed the Capilano Suspension Bridge property where members of his family lived and operated the business) The family home on Hastings Street was later replaced by the Marine Building. In England John Mahon ran a private bank with another Anglo-Irish family; Guinness Mahon. When the Odeon was redeveloped to a multiplex movie theatre, a new building was developed here, linking the two older theatres which were incorporated into the new structure.

The third building that became part of the Cineplex Odeon in 1986 was still the Coronet Cinema in 1974. It had first been built as a theatre, The Globe, in 1912 for the Pacific Amusement Company, designed by D C Gregory and costing $40,000. Later it became the Paradise, with an unusual bas relief sculpted art deco façade added in 1938, also designed by Thomas Kerr. It was remodeled again in 1965, by architects Lort and Lort, but the 1930s façade was unaltered.

Odeon sold the cinema to the Empire chain in 2005, who closed the cinema several years ago, and it’s been looking for a new use ever since. Various ideas have been considered for office and retail space, including returning to three separate buildings. Now a proposal has been submitted for Cineplex (again) to take over the complex, redeveloping it as ‘The Rec Room’, with a variety of entertainment offerings including bowling, virtual reality and restaurants and bars, all under one roof.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-442 and CVA 586-4619 (extract)

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Posted May 16, 2019 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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West Georgia and Burrard – sw corner (2)

w-georgia-burrard-sw-2

While we have no idea who designed the 1930s building on the corner of Burrard and West Georgia that housed Oscar’s restaurant and the Palomar Club, we do know who built the building that it replaced, shown here. William Blackmore & Son were hired to design the new Wesley Methodist Church in 1901. The design was very loosely based on H H Richardson’s Trinity Church in Boston – although it’s quite difficult to create a wooden facsimile of a stone building. There’s a 1901 illustration that suggests the Methodists were planning a stone building initially, but no doubt the cost became a factor in the decision to build in wood.

The congregation moved here in 1902 from Homer Street, the year this picture of the new church was taken. The old church was located in the eastern side of the city, and some of the city’s wealthier Methodists had moved into the new residential enclave of the West End, and it’s said the church was moved with them. The new church was a bit bigger than the one it replaced – but not a lot bigger. It lasted just 32 years before the congregation moved to another new Wesley church – St Andrew’s Wesley, further south on Burrard Street.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives Ch P91

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Posted February 20, 2017 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Granville and West Pender – northwest corner

fairfield-building-2

Here’s another early and substantial (for the time) Downtown office building. It’s the Fairfield Building, designed by William Blackmore, although there’s just a tiny part of the adjacent Dunn Block to the north showing (on the right). When Walter Frost took this picture in 1946 it wasn’t going to be standing much longer; the replacement buildings that are still standing were built in 1949 and 1951. The three storey ‘New fairfield-1899Dunn Block’ was erected around 1893, and the Fairfield in 1898. The image on the right (which we can’t reproduce as a ‘before and after’ because the photographer stood on the vacant site up the street) shows the building at completion, and the adjacent earlier structure to the north. Blackmore used almost identical design elements for both buildings, and Thomas Dunn also had a hand in the Fairfield. We know he certainly supplied many of the materials because William Blackmore chose to feature the building in a promotional brochure called ‘Vancouver of Today Architecturally’.

We also know the building was developed by the Fairfield Syndicate, as work started on August 8th and was reported in the Daily World. Earlier that year the paper reported that “the buyers of this property from Thos. Dunn were the Fairfield Company, of London, and of which J. J. Lang is the Vancouver agent. The building, which is to be a large four-storey structure, will extend from the McKinnon block to the corner of Pender street and will include the present Dunn Hall, on which another storey will be erected. A feature of the building will be a fine arch on the Granville street side and the entire fronts on both streets will be of granite.” The Syndicate weren’t just building investments downtown, they also actively developed a series of mining properties throughout the province; we don’t know which endeavor was the more profitable.

Thomas Dunn’s decision to build his building on Granville Street was significant – before this he’d built in the earlier Granville area of the city, both on Cordova Street and on Water Street in Maple Leaf square. The CPR had built their station at the foot of Granville, their hotel several blocks up the street in the middle of the cleared forest, and their directors had built office buildings along the street in between. In 1895 H. McDowell Co., Ltd., Agents were based in the Dunn Block – Vancouver agents for Columbia, Cleveland and Rambler Bicycles.

In 1920, Jonathan Rogers (who owned the office building across the street) must have acquired the building as he paid $7,500 for general repairs to 445 Granville; the Dunn Block part of the building. Today the office building on the corner was designed by McCarter and Nairne and completed as the Dominion Bank building in 1949. The adjacent Canada Permanent building that replaced the Dunn Building was completed a year or two later and was also designed by the same architects. No doubt the sixty year old buildings, with their modest density, will themselves be redeveloped – most likely as an office tower, perhaps with preservation of the 1940s facades.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 447-286 and CVA 15-03

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Posted December 29, 2016 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Georgia and Richards – sw corner (1)

500 W Georgia

The new Telus Garden office is an unusual building for the city because it’s over 250 feet wide, at the end of a block. That’s because the lane dog-legs into Richards, but this wasn’t always the case – it’s a newly created diversion. The first building on the site was built in 1889 and designed by William Blackmore. It was the First Congregational Church, seen here around 1905 – it stood here for only just over 20 years. The First Congregational Church held its first service on April 28, 1888 in Wilson Hall on the southwest corner of Cordova and Abbott streets. The congregation was officially organized on June 17, 1888. It secured property on the corner of Richards and Georgia streets, with the new church officially opening on December 8, 1889. The congregation split away to form Central Congregational Church over the issue of pacifism, but returned to First Congregational Church in 1903. It sat across the street from St Andrew’s Presbyterian, built only a year later and also designed by William Blackmore, (and from the look of the two buildings he was a keen recycler).

The church authorities bought property at the corner of Thurlow and Pendrell Streets and a new church was opened on November 9, 1912. In 1925, First Congregational Church became part of the United Church of Canada and First Congregational was amalgamated with St. John’s United Church. The 1912 First Congregational Church building was given to the continuing Presbyterian Church.

brandon auto liveryIn the meantime this site had already been cleared, although it previous use seems to have been influential enough that despite barely surviving 20 years, the lane between Seymour and Richards was for a while called Church Street (one of very few named lanes in the city). It looks as if the site stayed empty for several years – there’s nothing shown in the street directories for this location for several years until “Brandon Auto Livery” is listed just after the end of World War One.

That was also a gas station – we don’t have much of an image of it: just a 1930 movie in the Vancouver Archives. It was operated by Home Oil, and it stood here until the mid 1930s, sharing the location later in its existence with ‘U-Drive Ltd’ – one of the earliest car rentals in the city. In the early years of the operation the company was owned by R G Hetherington. In the early 1920s it passed to  G A Mathers and C J Hamilton, who was replaced by J H Mills at the end of the 1920s. As far as we can tell the final year of operation was 1937, when it was being run by L Richardson.

Image sources: CVA 677-413 and film MI-99

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St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church

St Andrew's Presbyterian Georgia & Richards v1

West Georgia Street was once pretty much developed with family homes and churches. This is St Andrew’s, the Presbyterian church on the corner with Richards street on the north-east corner in a photograph dated to 1900. The Architect was William Blackmore, and the church was built in 1890; the first concert was held in May and the first marriage was held in June. Calvert Simon, the Hastings Mill storekeeper identified Jimmy Kemp as the builder of the church

Major Matthews, the City Archivist, recalled that it “used to have two towers; one blew off, and they never replaced it”. We think he was mistaken: there’s a photograph of the church being completed from around 1890 – and there’s no sign of the second tower being constructed (on the right of the image. There were however four corner cornices that didn’t last very long on the second tower.

Seymour between Dunsmuir & Georgia

The church (just about) lasted until 1934 (so another image in the archives with the spire removed must be earlier than 1937, as it is labeled). The congregation had mostly moved west to the new St Andrew’s – St Andrew’s Wesley, which was the new United Church built for the recently joined non-conformist denominations and completed in 1933.

This corner saw a service station constructed after the church was demolished – the George and Richards Service Station, owned in 1945 by Betts and Carroll. In 1974 the building that’s there today was completed. Designed by Zoltan Kiss, it was known as the BC Turf Building and developed by Jack Diamond.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 677-648 and SGN 1454

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Posted July 28, 2014 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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401 West Cordova Street

Buscombe Building Cordova

Here’s the other side of 342 Water Street, which started life as the Burns Building, designed by William Blackmore in 1899 for John Burns, with an additional two storeys added in 1911 by Grant & Henderson.

In 1901 Turner Beeton & Co occupied the building, the company founded by John Turner who was at different times Mayor of Victoria and Premier of British Columbia. Also occupying the building were S Greenshields & Co, founded in Montreal by a Scottish businessman, Samuel Greenshields, and expanded across the country to be the largest suppliers of dry goods, including cottons, woollens, carpets, household furnishings, dress goods, and notions such as gloves, hosiery, and laces. In 1910, before the extra floors were added, Greggs, importers of Japanese Goods were here with the Canadian Rubber Co of Montreal. Ten years later the Dunlop Tire Co had half the building and the Western Dry Goods Co of Canada, Ltd the other half. Despite the ambitious title, they appear to only have operated in Vancouver, run by R B Mackedie and E St John Howley. In 1930 Dunlop were still in the building, but the other half was J H Hunter & Co, another dry goods company headed by T E Leigh.

Buscombe & Co were run by George Buscombe, and they were in a smaller building next door to the east. In 1935 they were shown at 341 Water Street, and a year later at 342 – this building. (The 1935 entry might be an error, although it’s repeated in the directory). The company had been founded in 1899 when Fred Buscombe bought out James A Skinner and Co, china and glass importers, originally founded in Hamilton. 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. By the time the company moved to this building there were several Buscombe family members associated with it, including George, Fred’s brother, but Fred had retired. He died in the same year that the picture of the building was taken; 1938.

The other company in the building were the Julius Shore Mail Order House. Dealing mostly in furniture, Julius Shore was a prominent member of the city’s Jewish community. His father, Benjamin, was manager of a coal company in the late 1920s while Julius was at UBC, and in 1935 Julius was working with Dominion Furniture and seems to have established his company soon after, moving into Water Street at around the same time as Buscombes.

The most recent restoration of the building took place in 1997, designed by Rafii Architects, and today it’s home to Brioche Urban Eatery. Upstairs are a range of office occupants, from a Massage school to a coal company and the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs.

Image source: Vancouver Public Library

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342 Water Street

Buscombe Building 342 Water

This building was built in 1899 as The Burns Block, but became known later as the Buscombe Building. It has two similar facades – one to Water Street, and one on West Cordova. It was designed in the same year, and by the same architect as the Flack Block; William Blackmore was hired by John Burns to build a three storey stone building. It appears to be one of the last buildings Blackmore designed on his own – a year later his son Ted (E E Blackmore) was in partnership.

There were several people called John Burns living in Vancouver at the turn of the century. The electrician, musician and RCMP officer are unlikely candidates as developers of Water Street real estate, but there are two living in the West End who are both possible. One was John Burns Jnr., who moved to Barclay Street from Robson Street in 1902, and was a manufacturer’s agent with an office at 313 Water Street (across the street from this building). We wondered if John Burns Jnr might be the son of the other possible developer called John Burns, but although his father was indeed called John (hence the Jnr) he, and his father, were both born in Ontario. He would have been aged 37 when this building was first constructed. He moved to Vancouver in 1891 and initially lived on Hornby Street, and by 1894 had set up a business on Cordova Street as a manufacturers agent and was living at 1216 Robson Street. In 1902 he helped found the British Columbia Hardware Retail Dealer’s Association with Thomas Dunn and E G Prior of Victoria. He died, aged 91, at his Angus Drive home and his 1952 obituary does not seem to note any property development: “Mr. Burns was born in Toronto and educated in Upper Canada College. He moved to Winnipeg during the last Northwest Rebellion. In 1891 he came to Vancouver and was active as a hardware manufacturer’s agent until his retirement 10 years ago.”

John Burns House, Barclay & JervisThe other John Burns also lived on Barclay Street, and there’s one connection that might make him more likely to be the developer of this warehouse. He was the father of Fred Burns of Boyd, Burns & Co, (who developed a warehouse on Columbia Street), and he had a Queen Anne style house built in 1900 designed by William Blackmore. It’s that fact that leads us to think he was the developer of the warehouse. He was a Scottish-born widower, and the 1901 Census said he had arrived in Canada in 1896, although only Fred is listed in the directory in 1896 and 1897. In 1899 when the building was commissioned he was aged 67 and was described as retired, with the phone number 100. In 1868 he had been living in Bridgeton, Lanarkshire when his wife Jane gave birth to their son, Frederick Fowle Burns; (Jane’s maiden name was Fowle). Twenty years later, in 1891 they were living in Eastwood, Renfrewshire.

In 1911 the Fred Burns family were still listed in the street directory, although they’re not obvious in the Census.

Whichever John Burns owned the building hired Grant and Henderson that year to add two additional floors at a cost of $13,500, which was executed in a grey Gulf Island stone matching the earlier phase of the building.

Our image shows the building when it was occupied by Buscombe & Co in 1938.

Image sources: Vancouver Public Library, Vancouver Architecturally, 1900

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Georgia and Howe looking west

Georgia from Howe 2

Here’s the site of the third Hotel Vancouver as it appeared some years before it was built – but after it was supposedly going to be built (in 1916). Just behind the photographer’s left shoulder was the new courthouse; today it’s the Vancouver Art Gallery (at least for now). On the next block was the Wesley Methodist Church which stood on the corner of Burrard between 1902 and 1934. Designed by William Blackmore, it ‘borrowed’ its design from a church in Boston.

Georgia St postcard c1908If it looks as if the site for the hotel was vacant, it was. A couple of houses were erected at the northern end of the block, and there were glasshouses built on the corner of Burrard in 1901, but by around 1908 (when this postcard was probably photographed) it was cleared and had a wooden fence around it. It seems to have had a stables on it for a while, but the street directory shows nothing on that block over many years, and the 1922 detail from an aerial shot (below) confirms that. It isn’t surprising that the city finally lost patience with the railway company and forced the issue on the construction of the hotel.

CN Hotel location 1922Across the street, behind the trees in our 1916 image (and more easily seen in the slightly earlier postcard was (and is) Christ Church – today a Cathedral, but then a parish church for that part of the West End. The church had its own history of partial completion, just like the hotel, but was substantially completed by 1895. Alongside, on the corner of Hornby, were a row of single storey retail units, built (and designed) by A Sharp for S Weaver in 1901. Almost certainly this was Solomon Weaver, a Polish born Jewish businessman who had arrived in Vancouver from Ontario with his wife (who had been born in the US) and children. In 1901 his profession was ‘money broker’, and he had two children at home (although actually there were three). He had first arrived around 1894 and opened a business as pawnbroker and jeweller.  In 1911 he was described as a manufacturer, and he was shown (probably inaccurately) as having been born in Russia. There are few details about Mr Weaver’s origins, although he was an important member of the reform Jewish congregation, serving as first president of Temple Emanu-El (who met in the Labour Temple) and a founder of the B’nai Brith Lodge in the city. He established the BC Wire and Nail Company in 1905, and although it burned down within a year, and within two it was closed, and apparently sold off, he remained president and was associated with the firm until 1911.

Today the north side of the street is lined with office buildings; the 1986 Hong Kong Bank building is closest to us, the Cathedral Place tower from 1992 is next, and beyond the Cathedral is Royal Place completed in 1973. Between the two images a different set of buildings were built and demolished, including the Georgia Medical-Dental Building, imploded in 1989. Soon the Trump Tower will be visible, off in the distance.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives SGN 1523

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Posted December 24, 2013 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Hastings and Homer – ne corner (2)

Hastings from Homer 3

We already saw this view as a postcard; here it is in a wider view looking all the way to the Flack Block and beyond. The Arcade was still standing at the corner of Cambie Street (in front of the second tram) with the Flack Block beyond on the other side of Cambie. We already identified the building with the curved second floor windows behind the first tram as the Mahon Block in the earlier post. Next door there’s another 2-storey building that we’ve failed to confirm the identity of the builder; we think Thompson Brothers, a stationery company. had it altered in 1913, but we’re not sure who built it originally.

To the east, the tall, thin building is still standing today – although in our summer shot the street tree hides it from this angle. It’s the Skinner building, and it was built in 1898, so the second oldest on this block. It’s four storeys with an almost fully glazed facade designed by W T Dalton for Robert B Skinner and Frederick Buscombe for Jas. A Skinner’s wholesale china and glassware business.

Beyond that to the east is a rather handsome 1899 building, built for Thomas Hunter and designed by Blackmore and Son. Today it’s one of the few ‘gap teeth’ in the city – the building was destroyed by fire in 2004. Next door to that is the oldest building on the block, the 1894 and 1898 Rogers Block designed by William Blackmore and Parr and Fee in two almost identical phases. As we noted on another blog, Jonathan Rogers would almost certainly be unhappy with the current use of his buildings. These days they house the offices of the Marijuana Party and the Amsterdam Cafe. In 1916 Jonathan Rogers was the main organiser in Vancouver of the People’s Prohibition Association who successfully lobbied for the introduction of Prohibition in British Columbia (which lasted from 1917 to 1921).

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 677-623

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Commercial Block – Columbia Street

Commercial Block

The Commercial Block was one of the most advanced buildings in the city – when it was built in 1893. Welsh entrepreneur Jonathan Rogers teamed up with Samuel and Thomas Hunter to build a two-storey and basement building on Columbia Street near Powell Street. It was the first building to have an electric elevator – and it had three of them. Each three bays of the building was a separate warehouse, although there was no indication of this arrangement on the facade. William Blackmore designed the building in a robust brick and stone design and once it was complete Thomas Hunter became the owner.

When it was first built the earliest tenant was a hardware company. By 1900 the building inexplicably took even numbered addresses (although it was on the odd side of the street) and had the Toronto Type Foundry, VW and FW Mitchell, brokers and merchants, and the Parsons Produce Co. In 1906 Cosens and Kindon, commercial merchants, had their warehouse here, along with the Terminal City Rice Mills and Western Oil and Supply Co. Sometime around that time a 3-storey extension was added to the north (although the architect is unknown). It was completed by 1908 when McLennan McFeely & Co (who had a massive warehouse next door) started using the rear of the property as well. M R Smith & Co were in front, manufacturing biscuits. McLennan McFeely would eventually use the entire premises in the late 1930s when they built an overhead link over the lane.

In 2002 Arcadian Architecture supervised the restoration of the building, and today it houses a variety of office users.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives LGN 481

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