Monday, May 30, 2011

Brothers and Sisters

I meet a lot of characters on my walks around the city and don't usually take their photos but this fellow I did. Ain't he cute?

This building at 118 Alexander Street - formerly known as 110 Alexander Street - makes up one of the largest building masses in Gastown. It was built in four stages between 1898 and 1951.

The oldest component of the building represent the architecture of the late Victorian age. Originally it was only three storeys high and was built for the  wholesale grocer W. J. McMillan (subsequently McMillan & Hamilton) about 1898. 

Two additions were added to the east and replaced a two storey building that had the distinction of being one of the few to survive the Great Fire of 1886. This building's upper floors had been as Keefer Hall and were used for Roman Catholic Church services and as meeting rooms.  But demolition gangs had done what the fire didn't and the lot stood empty until the late 1890s.

In 1941 the building was owned and occupied by Fleck Brothers Ltd. who were dealers in machinery and industrial supplies. They commissioned architect William Gardiner to add two floors, bringing the building to five storeys.

Fleck Brothers Ltd. moved into this building after it has stood empty for some time and they did well here. The firm acquired the building to the east - 144-146 Alexander - as well as the CPR right-of-way at the west and Fleck Brothers built a five storey wedge shaped building on it in 1950-51.

Fleck Brothers Ltd. stayed in the building until the 1970s before moving due to the change in Gastown. The wholesale industry in this area was waning. In 1988 architects Davidson and Yuen Partners rehabilitated the building and turned it into housing. The Four Sisters Housing Co-operative is a pioneering venture by the Downtown Eastside Residents Association.

Right beside the housing cooperative is this two - storey, free standing facade wall which was built in 1912-1913.

The building that was originally here was built probably for the Terminal City Iron Works which had operated on this site since about 1906. Before 1916 Terminal City Iron Works was defunct and Burrard Iron Works took over the building. Soon the building was in the hands of Shandia Engines. By mid century it was a warehouse for the Army and Navy Department Store before becoming part of the Fleck Brothers Ltd. complex.

The two-storey building was designed by architects Braunton and Liebert who designed many fine commercial buildings in their short lived career. (1912-1914). Today it has been landscaped and is a garden for the Four Sisters Housing Co-operative and all that remains of the building is the front facade which is braced by metal storeys behind it.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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