Monday, December 20, 2010

Restoration and Renewal

Remember when I wrote on the Flack Block? (In case you have forgotten just click here and read about it again.) The reason I mention this is that a little while ago I met Tony Rogac while walking downtown.

Rogac is a stone carver with Architectural Stone Masonry (ASM) and he and his firm were brought in to restore certain aspects of the building. Such as the archway which was originally made from Newcastle Island sandstone - a quarry which has been depleted.

This building was built in 1899 to 1900 and thanks to weather, the nearby ocean, the poor economic state of the area, time and some neglect I am sure certain features, such as this, had to be entirely redone.

But they did it. Working from blow ups from historical photographs of the Flack Block in its glory years, these artists were able to recreate the magnificent archway that had been destroyed by time.

As I mentioned the original material used came from a now defunct quarry so a substitute had to be made. 80,000 pounds of Indiana Grey limestone was handcarved and then installed in place.

Exquisite work. Thanks Tony for sending me the photos.

Not that far from the Flack Block is the Army & Navy Block. You can enter this building from Hastings Street walk through, cross the alley and enter the rear of the Cordova Street side. I took photos from Cordova.

This three storey late Victorian Italianate structure was built in 1888 and 1889 for two of Vancouver's most important businessmen at the time: Thomas Dunn a hardware merchant and alderman and Jonathon Miller Vancouver's first constable and postmaster.

Architect Noble S. Hoffar designed 'the largest, most pretentious and important' structure in the city as the Dunn-Miller block was once referred to. Oh if they could only see the city now!
Initially this building had Thomas Dunn's hardware store on the lower floor and the upper floors were home to The Vancouver Electric Railway and Light Company, the city's first synagogue and the Knights of Pythias, a non sectarian fraternal order.

North Vancouver property owner A.H. Lonsdale purchased the building during the Klondike years and renamed it the Lonsdale Block. According to city records was listed as commercial/residential with rooms on the upper floors being available to rent.

Other notable residents include the Caledonian Society and the Bricklayer's Union. As well, druggists H. McDowell & Company were among the earlier tenants. What makes that notable is that this druggist was the first of its kind to open after the great fire and went on to become a leading business in its field in Vancovuer.

According to the heritage sign outside the Army&Navy purchased this building in the 1930s. But according to they have been there since 1948. I guess both facts could be true.

The Regal Place was built in 1908 by architects John S. and Maurice Helyer. Originally it housed the Vancouver Stock Exchange, which was formed in 1907,  as well as  financial agents, accountants, real estate agents, and architects. Imagine the sums of money made and lost here.

Don't let the downtrodden look to this building fool you. It was once in the center of Vancouver's business area and noted architects such as  John S. Helyer and Sons who not only designed this building but also the Dominion across from Victory Square which I have written on previously.

When the Province newspaper moved from Victoria to Vancouver in 1917, this is where it roosted before moving to 198 West Hastings.

Now Regal Place is operated by the Portland Hotel Society and it serves as housing for those individuals from the Eastside who are either without a substance abuse problem or are in recovery from one.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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