Lost and Found

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 1.23.08 PM Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 1.44.32 PM
IMG_5990 FullSizeRender

The former Bank of Nova Scotia at 424 West Hastings is an attractive little building. Built in 1904 and designed by the firm of Dalton & Eveleigh this was the bank’s head office until their new office tower was constructed at the corner of Seymour and Hastings in 1910.

At some point the building got a make over and the columns that once graced the facade disappeared from view. What’s interesting is they are still in place, just hiding behind a bunch of bricks. Here’s hoping they’ll be exposed and brought back into view again.

For a full history of the building check out Changing Vancouver.

Lost Urban Objects 2

Scan-150107-0014

By 1910, Vancouver had three public restrooms available to those in need (earlier facilities were pretty basic public urinals for men) and while an editorial in the Vancouver World lauded the city for its progress and development, it complained that it lacked the necessary number of public conveniences for a city growing at such “an unparalleled pace.”

It took awhile and many proposals, but by the 1920s the city had a number of locations under consideration for additional comfort stations. However, as soon as the locations were announced protests began. Former mayor L.D. Taylor issued a writ to protest the construction of the Georgia and Howe station, and was joined by complaints from the Law Society and the provincial and federal ministers of public works. The provincial government even threatened legal action to prevent the construction. Their gripe was that a public loo was inappropriate so near an important public building such as a court house.

Protests and complaints also delayed construction on the Hamilton and Hastings location and the federal government once again got involved protesting the proposed post office location. Even the library board and the automobile association felt the need to weigh in on the issue.

Eventually, Council decided to push forward with the Georgia and Howe, Hamilton and Hastings, and Main and Hastings locations, dropping three other contentious locations. Arthur Julius Bird, the city’s building inspector and an architect, got the job of designing the loos. Their above ground presence was confined to elaborate cast iron railings.

The Georgia and Howe location was demolished in the 1960s, while the remaining two were renovated. Main and Hastings was redesigned above ground with a striking modern concrete canopy that soared over the entrances, providing an interesting counterpoint to the rusticated stone facade of the 1903 Carnegie Library.

Sadly, this was demolished in the early 2000s as part of a redo of the space around the Carnegie Centre and replaced with railings and gates that sort of recall the restroom’s original form.

Above: Main and Hastings in the 1980s

Forgotten Urban Objects

Scan-150106-0012

In the 1960s Vancouver embarked on a number of civic improvements including its street furniture and one of the items was this forlorn looking object seen here in this 1978 photo.

What is it? It’s a newspaper kiosk for that long lost profession of the corner newspaper vendor. When papers published more than one edition a day the newspaper box we see everywhere today was just too inefficient for distribution. The kiosk was designed to hold papers and provide minimal shelter from the elements for the paper seller. These kiosks with their vendors were once a common site throughout the downtown core. This one was at the corner of Davie and Granville.

No Tunnels, damn…

gabriola-mansion

So nice to see Shelly Fralic’s column in the December 24th edition of the Vancouver Sun (page A15) debunking the silly rumours that surround Gabriola, the Roger’s mansion on Davie Street. It’s surprising what a little bit of research, fact checking and common sense can turn up. And nice to see Brian Rogers interviewed too.

The tunnel myth is one of those zombie myths (thanks Andy) that just never to go away – for example, and this silly one – I hope Shelly’s article helps put the stake through the heart on this one once and for all.

Next up frozen foundations and tipping apartment buildings

Oh, Just A Little Bit of Change…

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 3.04.50 AM

At the foot of Keefer Street in 1913 you would have been confronted with the smell, dirt and dust of the Vancouver Gas Company’s coal gas plant. The street was nothing more than a dirt track from Main Street to the edge of False Creek. There was no Columbia Street south of Pender Street, just the creek. On the gasworks site is one of the British-built gasometers from John Coates and Company of Downington, England which was shipped to Vancouver in 1905. The gas company sold coke, a byproduct from burning the coal to release the gas, for $7.00 a ton.

Residents were concerned about the dangers of a fire and or an explosion of the gas holder, but the company assured residents at a 1912 public meeting that it was safe and gas holders were found in many congested neighbourhoods.

The three storey building in the foreground of the image is the Chung King, one of three Chinese theatres in Chinatown. Out of frame, the view would have been the newly constructed Georgia Viaduct, the Vancouver Steam Plant and other industry.

Today, the Keefer Bar occupies the one remaining structure belonging the the Gas Company, that’s the big blank wall behind the Chung King, and the gasworks site is now home the the parking garage and the Chinatown neon sign.

Archives image: portion of PAN N221

When the Bijou is not the Bijou…

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 11.49.37 AM

This image has bugged me for some time. It is a Vancouver Archives photo (CVA 371-2061) showing the Bijou Theatre. But it’s not the Vancouver Bijou which was on Carrall near Hastings facing what is now Pigeon Park.

Looking at the image, which shows the aftermath of a flood, you can see a sign for the Pabst Hotel in the Brown Brother’s Building and the furniture store next door. None of these details match the building in Vancouver.

Here’s the Vancouver theatre in a detail from an Archives photo (Str p416) taken in 1908, showing the building next to its neighbour the Louvre Hotel.

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 12.11.10 PM

And the theatre just before it was demolished in the 1940s, showing the expanded building which incorporated a portion of the Louvre.

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 12.19.36 PM

A little bit of searching for the Pabst Hotel (far less hotels with that name than Bijou theatres) turns up a reference for a hotel of the same name on Superior Street in Duluth, Minnesota. The newspaper article detailed the arrest of a clairvoyant who operated out of the Pabst Hotel at 10 East Superior Street. When looking up East Superior Street, there is a reference in a 1910 paper for the Empress Theatre part of the Sullivan and Considine Vaudeville circuit, that had been known as the Bijou.

Off to the Duluth history sites and in short order on zenithcity.com we find this description: “The Bijou Theatre stood at 12 East Superior Street and operated as part of the Sullivan and Considine vaudeville circuit from 1903 until 1911, when it became the  Empress Theatre. The Empress burned in May of 1915, and the building was converted for retail sales; it is now home to the Electric Fetus”

The photograph on the site from the Duluth Public Library confirms that the Bijou shown in the Archives image above is indeed located in Duluth. Except for the canopy with the Empress name the rest of the details are identical to the Archives image. The Duluth Bijou was designed by the architect William Allen Hunt.

Screen Shot 2014-12-12 at 1.11.16 PM

The flood shown in the Archives image turns out to be a 1909 incident which broke rainfall records and caused considerable damage in the town. At the Bijou Theatre, water had entered the building and was cascading down the aisles, causing a panic. It was rumoured that the flood interrupted a performance by Al Jolson.