Chinatown · History · Vancouver

An Unexpected Find

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This rather sad looking building on Franklin Street near Woodland Drive was once something quite wonderful and unexpected. However, looking at it in this Google Street view, it is clear that whatever renovations have taken place over the years haven’t been very successful and that there’s something missing. It’s not well known but Franklin Street was once a thriving Chinese district in the years before the First World War. This building was designed by Stuart, White and Peters for the Chinese Reform Society. The permit was taken out in 1912 with a value of $26,000 for a brick and timber building with stores on the ground floor and rooms above. It is one of three the firm designed for Chinese clients on this side of the street and all of them had a private internal alley separating a smaller residential block from the main building that connected through to Woodland Drive. Franklin St P1040547 The plans from the Vancouver Archives (AP 289) show an extraordinary composition of traditional Chinese forms married to an Edwardian building. The roof crest is of particular interest. Of all of the society buildings in Vancouver this was one of the most elaborate constructed. One could dream of a restoration one day… sigh… — The Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC is hosting a walking tour of “The Other Chinatown” on April 18th. at 10am. $15.00 for non-members and free for members. Meet at Commercial and Franklin.

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