Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Back Where It Started

I spent today lazing around - trying to restore my energy after my long walk on Monday and the one I took yesterday. But don't worry, I have gone into my files and I am going to revisit Gastown and show you some more of the older buildings there.

The Byrnes Block is at 2 Water Street. Designed by Elmer H. Fisher it was among the first of the brick structures built in Vancouver after the great fire of 1886. Former Barkerville Sheriff and Victoria Real Estate speculator George Byrnes had it built near Gassy Jack Deighton's second saloon which was torn down three years later to make room for the expanding streets.

See the row of chimneys? The block was also home to the Alhambra Hotel one of the fancier in the area at the time. Each room had it's own hot water and a stove or fireplace. Quite ritzy for that time period.

Not far from the Byrnes Block is the Robinson Block, built in 1889 for a Jewish immigrant from Russia, Zebulon Franks.  Franks supply store catered to loggers, fishers and miner travelling around the province. When Franks died the business continued as Y. Franks Appliances which went on to become one of Vancouver's longest operating businesses.

Next to the Robinson Block is the Kane Building built in 1906. Owner Jacob Sam Kane used this structure for both commercial and industrial uses. In 1942 it served the homeless and unemployed as the Beulah Rescue Mission.

The stonework on the second floor is actually precast concrete blocks made to resemble stone. Both the Kane Building and the Robinson Block were rehabilitated in 2006.

Across the street from the previous two structures is what was formerly the 3rd Malkin Warehouse.  A wholesale grocer and general merchant, William Harold Malkin, built three warehouses on Water Street in eight years to keep up with his growning business. The W.H. Malkin Co. made a lot of money off of mining boom in the Kootenays and the Klondike Gold Rush.

The western half of the building was constructed in 1907 and the eastern in 1912. The style with the simple facade and heavy cornice is indictive of the architects Parr and Fee.
This rather unremarkable buiding is located at 68 Water Street - the former home of Louis and Emma Gold's Gold House Hotel built in 1886.  Vancouver's first hotel district was between Carrall and Cambie Streets on the south side of Water Street. That was because during high tide the north side would often be under water. Fortunately the Canadian Pacific Railway filled the area in in the 1890s and took care of that problem.

On this site once stood the Regina Hotel - the only building in Gastown that wasn't destroyed in the great fire of 1886. A small group of men were trapped inside as the fire raged outside and buildings around them actually exploded from the heat. They managed to not only save their lives but the hotel as well. Ten years later the Regina was demolished and replaced by the Edward Hotel, this steel and iron structure that would be more fire resistant.
I hope you find the beauty around you. It is there, you just have to look for it.

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