Friday, October 22, 2010

Magic and History

Yesterday I told you a little about the longest standing brick building in Vancouver. Today I went out and got photos to show you.

I must admit that I have walked by this structure numerous times and have never realized the piece of history I was in the presence of or the magic that was being made behind the imposing doors.

The date I find for this building is 1886. For those of you who are in the know or have been perusing my blog will realize that 1886 is the year that Vancouver was incorporated as a city and the year that a great fire destroyed almost everything.

This example of Victorian Commercial architecture stands quietly in Vancouver's Gastown. The building isn't flashy, it doesn't grab a passerby's attention. It is solid and secure.

The Oppenheimer brothers, particularly David, helped to shape the commercial landscape of the new city.  And it was for them that this warehouse building was built. Interesting note: I just read that this building also served as Vancouver's first City Hall.

In 1991 rock musician Bryan Adams was getting tired of the recording studio in the basement of his home. He allowed other musicians to use it and while that was fine when he was away while he was home the intrusion on his privacy and the noise tended to get to him. So he bought an abandoned, burnt out building in historic Gastown and embarked on a journey like no other.

Adams paid the heavy taxes imposed on the building by the city. He also paid to have it made earthquake proof. Then the fun started. The building was sheared in half and half of it was made into an open air courtyard, parking lot and putting green. The other half is a three storey studio. From the pictures I have seen of the studio it looks gorgeous inside.

I will admit that I have been an admirer of Bryan Adams' music for many years but I have to say when I discovered the work he had put into restoring a piece of Vancouver's history - with his own money I hear - my respect for the man increased. It would have been very easy - and maybe less expensive - for the man to just build something new.

I was scanning an interview conducted with Adams at mixonline when I found a piece of information that shows a little into how Adams thinks. He had kitchens built into each studio so that the artist would not have to take time away from their work and leave to get food.

And when I looked at some of the artists who have made use of the studio I would say details such as that have been much appreciated. I don't think I will ever walk so casually by this building again. Instead I will give it a nod to recognize the magic that is being created behind those walls.

I took this photo because of the decoration but when I downloaded it from my camera I noticed the sitting area above. I wonder who uses that.

Next door to the Warehouse Studios is an Edwardian Commercial style building erected in 1910-1911 and designed by architects Dalton & Eveleigh.

The Pilkington Brothers Glass used this building as their distribution center for all of North America. At the time they were the largest glass manufacturer in the world. Glass would be manufactured in England then shipped via steamboat to Vancouver where it would then be distributed to other parts of North America.

Now this building is home to Steven Hart, Architect; Kareyn Davies and Associates, Interior Design and Planning and Rositich Hemphill & Associates, Architects.

Just across the street is the Commercial Block designed by William Blackmore.

This two storey block was originally constructed in 1893 with nine bays defined by brick and stone banding. The simpler style to the north was constructed sometime between 1905 to 1908 and incorporated three floors.

The original portion of the building was divided into three parts and electric elevators were installed in each. The first in the city.

The west side of the building features the former CPR right-of-way which was very advantageous for offices and warehouses for those who used the rail for transport.

Have a great weekend everyone. I hope you find the beauty around you.

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