Archive for the ‘William Blackmore’ Tag

West Cordova north side from Homer Street

Remarkably, all the buildings in this 1919 Vancouver Public Library picture are still standing today, almost unchanged in appearance in over 100 years.

We looked at the history of the big warehouse in the middle of this image in two earlier posts. On West Cordova it’s numbered as 401, while on Water Street it’s 342 Water Street. It was developed as a three storey building that later had two floors added. It was built in 1899 as The Burns Block, but became known later as the Buscombe Building. William Blackmore was hired by John Burns to build a three storey stone building, and in 1911 Grant and Henderson designed 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. We’re not completely sure which of two possible John Burns developed the building, but we suspect he was a Scottish born businessman who arrived in the 1890s when he was already in his 60s, and retired. His son, Fred Burns, was already in Vancouver, dealing in plumbing and engineering supplies.

To the left of the warehouse are two significantly older properties. The Jones Block was developed in 1890, and designed by N S Hoffar, who recycled his design (with an extra window on the top floor) for the McConnell Block next door, also in 1890. Most census records suggest Gilbert Smythe McConnell was born in Quebec around 1857, although his death certificate and the 1891 census said it was 1855. That Census has his name as Guibert, which is probably more accurate, before he switched it for convenience to Gilbert. An 1891 biography tells us much more about Mr. McConnell “Mr. McConnell was born in Argenteuil County, Quebec, in 1856, where he attended school. When fifteen years of age he entered the employ of Green, Sons & Co., of Montreal, wholesale dealers in men’s furnishings. He remained with this firm for seven years, when he received the appointment as Indian agent in charge of the Touchwood Hilt district, Manitoba, in which service he remained for about six years. At the breaking out of the rebellion in the Northwest, in 1885, he was appointed one of the transport officers on Gen. Middleton’s staff’. He returned to Woodstock after the rebellion had been quelled, and was married to the eldest daughter of Wm. Muir, of that town. Mr. McConnell came to Vancouver in 1886, shortly after the fire, and has since been actively identified with the city’s interests. He built about thirty houses, including a couple of brick blocks, and has been interested in various enterprises. He served for two years in the City Council. He started his present business, as a wholesale importer of gents’ furnishings, hats, caps, etc., about three months ago, and has already a very large trade. He owns and built the building he occupies, which is a three story brick, fronting on Cordova and Water streets.”

His wife, Nettie Agnes was from Ontario and ten years younger. They married in Woodstock, Ontario in 1886, and their children were born in British Columbia; William in 1888 and Florence in 1890. Gilbert died in 1934.

We haven’t found a contemporary reference to who the ‘Jones’ in the Jones Block was, but H A Jones had his offices here the year after it was completed. Harry Jones was originally from Liverpool, born there in 1851, and had been in Vancouver from before the 1886 fire. He developed several buildings in the city, and was married at least three times.

Running off the picture to the left is the Holland Block, completed in 1892 and designed by C W H Sansom for James M. Holland, an American lawyer. On the right of the Buscombe Building is the Homer Street Arcade which dates from 1912, designed by Stuart and White for the ‘Thompson Bros’ (actually Thomson), and built by the Burrard Construction Co for $30,000. It was an unusual building for Vancouver: an arcade linking Water Street to Cordova, with an entrance across the street from Homer Street, (which presumably explains its name).

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Strathcona School – East Pender Street

Strathcona School has seen several stages of development, and redevelopment for over a century. Initially called the East End School, the first building, designed by Thomas Hooper, was completed in 1891 – seen here on the left hand side of this Library and Archives Canada picture from the 1910s. A new larger wing was added in 1897, facing Keefer Street, to the south of the original building. That was designed by William Blackmore, and it was completed in 1898. It’s still standing today, and has recently been seismically upgraded in a $25m project, but it’s hidden today by the gymnasium (auditorium), completed in 1930. That too received seismic upgrading in the form of poured concrete buttresses on the corners of the building, and additional concrete shear walls internally.

The upgraded 1897 building on Keefer is load-bearing unreinforced brick and stone. It was upgraded using seismic (base) isolation technology. Completed in December 2016, this was the first base isolated building in Canada. It now sits on lead core rubber bearings with teflon-stainless steel sliders, designed to absorb the energy of an earthquake without the building shaking to pieces.

In the early 1900s classes were moved from the first building, which gradually fell out of use. It was eventually demolished in 1920, but the bricks were saved and recycled into the construction of a new building. The Primary building is beside the gymnasium, just off the picture to the left. Completed in 1921, it was designed by F A A Barrs. The Senior Building can be seen today on the right. It too has been seismically strengthened, and was built in two phases, starting in 1914 (designed by Charles Morgan) and completed in 1927. H W Postle designed the second phase, and the gymnasium.

Image source: Images Canada

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Granville Street – 800 block, west side (3)

We’ve looked at the west side of this block of Granville looking north is previous posts, but not looking south, from Robson Street. The picture dates from 1951, when there were still plenty of competing cinemas with vertical blade signs. On the east side wire the Capitol and the Orpheum; the bigger theatres on the block, but the Paradise and Plaza had equally large signs, even if their capacity was less. The Paradise opened in 1938, showing Paul Robeson in “The Big Fella”. The 1938 art deco facade was designed by Thomas Kerr, and the cinema had 790 seats. This wasn’t the first cinema here, in 1912 The Globe opened, designed by an engineer, C P Gregory, for the Pacific Amusement Company. It cost $40,000, and three years later was altered by new owners the Hope Investment Company. There were further alterations a year later, when W P Nichols was shown as the owner, and in 1922 a pipe organ was installed. The theatre was taken over by Odeon in 1941 who later refurbished and reopened it as the Coronet Theatre in 1964 showing Peter Sellers in “The Pink Panther”. In 1976 the cinema was twinned – two smaller screens allowed less popular movies to be shown. The Coronet cinema closed in 1986, although that wasn’t the end of its movie-house story.

Odeon also acquired the Plaza Theatre just up Granville Street in the early 1960s. Their theatre was three doors to the south of the Paradise, as we saw in an earlier post photographed in 1974. That was another Thomas Kerr design, from 1936, which was a rebuild of the 1908 Maple Leaf Theatre. Today it’s Venue, a nightclub that (until recent restrictions) had live music as well as DJs. As other cinemas closed on Granville, Odeon decided to close the Plaza, and acquired the Vermilyea Block (next to the Plaza), designed by William Blackmore in 1893 and operated for years as The Palms Hotel. They also demolished 855 Granville, a 1920 office building developed by J F Mahon. They combined the Paradise and the two adjacent buildings and in 1987 the Cineplex Granville 7 opened, with a total of over 2,400 seats in seven cinemas in a building that incorporated the facade of both the Vermilyea and the Coronet, with a new building between. The cinema closed in 2012 as the Empire Granville, and is now being redeveloped as The Rec Room, another Cineplex entertainment complex, but with no movie element.

On the corner today is the Mason Robson Centre which a few years ago replaced the Farmer Building, and incorporated the facade of the Power Block, a 1929 Townley and Matheson art deco building. The demolished back of the building dated back to 1888, when it was developed by Captain William Power, of North Vancouver, who hired N S Hoffar to design it. The tall building to the south is the Medical Arts Building, a $100,000 investment developed by J J Coughlin and designed by Maurice Helyer in 1922 (and still used as office space today). John J Coughlin ran a Vancouver construction company – the biggest in the city. His company built the $200,000 Second Hotel Vancouver, a block from here to the north. The small building to the south is now missing the design elements initially included by architect James Keagey for his clients recorded in the building permit as ‘Powers and Boughton’ in 1913. Actually they were John E Powis and G E Broughton, real estate agents and developers.

Image source: City of Vancouver archives CVA 772-8

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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 16 May 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 20 February 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.

Jonathan Rogers (who owned the office building across the street) acquired the building in August 1905, and in 1920 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 29 December 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 28 July 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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