Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Horne's Mark

This building has seen a lot of Vancouver history. Built in 1888 - a mere two years after this city's incorporation and the Great Fire - the Springer and Van Bramer Block  is representative of the importance of historic Gastwon as a trans-shipment point between the terminus of the railways and the Pacific shipping routes.

Prominent businessmen, Ben Springer and James Van Bramer were the original owners of this prominent structure designed by architect Noble Stonestreet Hoffar - also referred to as N.S. Hoffar - and it attracted commercial and retail occupants as well as those in the social area like the Masons and the Odd Fellows. (In fact another name for this building is the Masonic Block)

This is a large and substantial Victorian Italianate Style structure and this style was popular in Canada during the late nineteenth century and Gastown has some very fine examples.

This is the J.W. Horne Block A.K.A Horne Block A.K.A Brinsmead Block. I would say it is close to the  Springer and Van Bramer Block  but that would be an understatement.

As you may be able to tell from these two photos, the buildings form one contiguous unit  that fills an edge shaped lot created by city surveys. (The triangular lot was dictated by the convergence of the original 1870 Granville Townsite survey and the CPR's 1885 grid plan survey to the south.)

Alderman  and real estate developer James W. Horne, after whom this building is named, once owned more land in Vancouver than anyone except the CPR. Other buildings in the area show Horne's prosperity at the time. As the design and detailing of this building shows the prosperity of Gastown at the time.

The same architect, N.S. Hoffar, who built the previous building built this one in 1889.

The J.W. Horne Block is situated on West Cordova Street and is where Homer  Street ends its route to the north. As you have seen the J.W. Horne Block is built on a triangular lot. On one side is West Cordova and on the other is an alley and the Homer Street Arcade.

Built in 1912 this two storey plus lower level masonry commercial building has gone by a few names such as Cloth Hill, Arcade Building and Le Magasin.

This was not a common building type - in fact the only one like it in Gastown - it had a covered passage with shops on both sides. Due to its location it has frontage on both sides. Originally the Water street side was more industrial with the south side, the alley, being more elaborate. The building was designed by architects Bertram Dudley Stuart and Howard E. White.

Back to J.W. Horne. This is the Horne Block built in 1890 and designed by N.S. Hoffar.

James Horne founded the Vancouver Loan, Trust, Savings and Guarantee Company  and is said to have brought $1.5 million in investment money from Brandon, Manitoba. While working as an alderman from 1889 - 1890 Horne worked with David Oppenheimer to municipalize Vancouver Water Works.

Past tenants of the Horne Block, or the Mutual Block, are the Bank of North America (1892), Rand Bros. Real Estate (1896) and G.A. Roedde, bookbinder (1896). Another noted tenant was the architect who designed the First Presbyterian Church (1894) at East Hastings Street and Gore Avenue, Atlen H. Towle.

The building was also home to many publishing and lithography firms during the time period between 1910 and 1925 - due probably to the bjuilding's close proximity to the newspaper offices of the Vancouver Sun and Province. From the 1930s to the 50s (and now) clothing retailers, bookstores and cleaners were the most common residents. (And at one time it has served as an inn)

A unique feature to this building is that the ground floor is recessed behind cast iron columns and shops are connected by staircases bridging the area below street level. This is a common feature in Britain but rare in Vancouver.

The elongated brick arches, which spans pairs of windows, are integrated into the brickwork.

That is a just a small glimpse into one of the influential people who helped to form this city.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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