Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Diversity at its Best

Today I am going through some of the photos I have on my computer. This is The Landing on Water Street in Gastown. Architect W.T. Whiteway designed this Edwardian Commercial style building in 1905 . It was a warehouse building originally known as the Kelly Douglas Building. Frank Douglas and Robert Kelly had a wholesale grocery business known as the Kelly Douglas Company which was started in 1896.

Douglas and Kelly were both good businessmen, prospering as they supplied the fortune seekers of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. Douglas even made the extra effort to travel to the gold mining centres himself and would head north for a few months each summer.

In August of 1901 Douglas boarded the Islander, intent on returning home to Vancouver. At 2 am on the 15th of August, just outside Juneau in Lynn Canal, the ship hit a submerged iceberg. Forty of the passengers, including Douglas, drowned. And here is where the story gets interesting. Rumour has it that Douglas secured gold into his clothing before drowning and had about $50,000 to $60,000 on him when he drowned. The business went on of course, Frank Douglas was succeeded by his brother Edward.

From Gastown we will go a short distance to Chinatown. 5 West Pender is one place I want to talk about today.

This building was constructed between 1906 and 1907 and purchased by the Chi Kung Tong - later known as the Chinese Freemasons. The building contained meeting rooms, a Chinese school and a male dormitory which was common for a Chinese society building.

The Chi Kung Tong assisted many early immigrants from China and were intensely involved with the politics of their homeland. Dr. Sun Yat Sen reportedly stayed here in approximately 1911 and also in that year the Freemasons mortgaged the building to help support Dr. Sun Yat Sen's revolution.

In 1913 the prominent architect Samuel Buttrey Birds designed substantial alterations to the buiding, due to the arrival of the Bank of Vancouver on the lower floor. This building is a unique blend of two distinct architectural styles. On the one side is seen the typical Victorian commercial style while on the other is the more Chinese style with the recessed balconies and ironwork. Interesting how they managed to incorporate both to make this a building reflecting both cultures.

This building was renovated in 1975 - the outer facades the only remnants of the original structure when the rest of the building was demolished. It was also rehabilitated in 2007 and senior's housing being incorporated into it.

5 West Pender also has its own scandal attached to it. On September 24, 1924 David Lew came down the stairs of the Pekin Chop Suey House and was shot to death on Pender Street. A court interpreter and lawyer, many thought that Lew was killed because of what he knew too much about the criminal activity in Chinatown. To this day his murder has never been solved.

And to make sure that all are getting their exercise let's now go over to Granville Street.

Dominic Burns - of the Burns meat packing company - took advantage of the city's pre World War I building boom and had this structure built for him in 1911 - 1912. The terra cotta surface we see covers a sturdy steel structure and allows for the embellishments created to ornate the building.

I like the fact that there is a little ornamentation but it isn't too overdone.

A city landmark even today, the clock atop of the Vancouver Block was the first large clock illuminated by neon light. 

Are your feet sore yet? I have been dragging you to and fro today so I will let you rest now.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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