Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Stone Arts and Crafts

One of the things I love about walking around the city is the things I find by accident. Like this mural.

Or this piece of artwork.

(I may have shown you this before it is interesting.)

Another great thing is the people I meet and the stories I hear. Some of my information has come from the most unusual sources.

But onto some historical buildings now.

Arthur G. Ferguson was one of our city's pioneer landowners and developers. He built a succession of buildings and named each one Ferguson Block. So while this building is known as Ferguson block it is also known as the Boulder Hotel.

It is one of Vancouver's early buildings, built in 1890. It is a simple design that makes the most out  of natural materials, contradictory to the Victorian complexity of many structures of the time.

Leading architect of the time, Robert Mackay Fripp, designed the Boulder Hotel. He was an outspoken proponent of the Arts and Crafts Movement in architecture and this is one of Vancouver's earliest buildings to have plain rectangular sash windows set into a rough-dressed masonry wall.

A few construction details worth noting are two main facades of coursed ashlar rough-dressed sandstone with granite foundation blocks; single sandstone blocks spanning upper floor window openings; continuous running band of window sill blocks; smooth-dressed sandstone cornice over main entry; and common red brick construction of secondary facades.

This is a massive cubic form building on a prominent scale with a flat roof and regular massing. A third floor was added in 1910.

I want to tell you about Jimmy Cunningham who was a stone mason. Jimmy was born in Scotland in 1878 and came to Canada in 1910. He served for Canada in WWI. When he came home Cunningham worked extensively as a stone mason and his work can be seen at places such as UBC, certain Vancouver homes, the pools at Lumberman's Arch, 2nd and Kitsilano Beaches, the Empress Hotel and the Banff Springs Hotel.

In 1931 Cunningham was named 'master stonemason' of Stanley Park and he was entrusted with a special task: to secure Stanley Park's shores. He retired fourteen years later bu kept coming down to check on the seawall until he died in 1963. Once he even came down in his pyjamas! That's the Scottish work ethic for you.

One time Cunningham built a small wall around his property but upon learning that it would raise his taxes by $4 a year, he and his wife "went out and tore the whole blooming thing down.” That's the Scottish frugality at work.

I hope you find the beauty around you.
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