Friday, June 3, 2011

Ferguson and Chamberlain

This small, non descript building on Cordova Street in Gastown was probably built around 1928. It was originally an extension of the neighbouring Columbia Hotel and is referred to as the Boyd Building.

Thomas Boyd arrived in Vancouver in 1884 and took great pride in his status as a pioneer. He played an active role as a contractor in creating this city. He cleared the rights of way for Granville Street and Park Drive in Stanley Park; he purchased real estate and designed and constructed many buildings, including this one.

This brick building replaced an early timber building on the same site. After it was no longer used by the Columbia Hotel it was leased to a number of tenants. Including E.W. Grant and Son who operated a sheet metal works here.

For almost ninety years, from the late nineteenth century until 1989, this building was owned by the Boyd family - first Thomas Boyd then his widow and finally his daughter.

The Columbia Hotel, or the New Columbia Hotel, is located at 303 Columbia Street right at the corner of East Cordova and Columbia Streets.

It was built between 1910 and 1920 and reflects the importance of the single male workers to British Columbia's resource-based industry. Those in the logging camps would winter here when the camps closed.

This hotel is also historically significant due to the way it was built. The structure that is there today was constructed in two separate parts - the three-storey southern part sometime between 1910 and 1920 while the six-storey northern section between 1925 and 1950.

The New Columbia Hotel, like many other establishments in the area, earned an unsavoury reputation while enforcing the liquor laws in its beer parlour. I don't know the details though.

This is one of the many Ferguson Blocks in this city. It is located across the street from Maple Tree Square at the strange intersection of Alexander, Water, Carrall and Powell Streets. A two-storey masonry structure in the Victorian Italianate style, with a one storey retail extension to the rear, Ferguson Block was built in 1886 to 1887.

This one of the oldest buildings on its original site in Vancouver.(and one of the first examples of  Victorian Italianate style in Vancouver)  It is located in the same area as what was Vancouver's first gathering space in the core of Gastown.

(You may remember that the Byrnes Block that I wrote on last year is across the street. That is the building directly behind the statue of Gassy Jack.)

The first section of this building was built in 1886-87 prior to the arrival of the railway;  a one storey addition to the rear, housing three commercial storefronts, and a two storey addition to the side had been added by 1889.

Although Alfred Graham Ferguson had this designed by architect W. T. Whiteway it was sold almost immediately after completion to Hugh Whitmore Chamberlain who was responsible for the 1889 additions. The building was also known as the Chamberlain Block.

These buildings are in Gastown, as I am sure you have gathered. Now we are going to move over to Chinatown/Strathcona and take a look at the Vancouver Gas Company Warehouse.

Built in 1910 and located at 135 Keefer Street, this building is an early work of the architectural firm Sharp and Thompson. Although this was an industrial building, it was dressed up with glazed brick, small-paned windows, decorative spandrels, and a cornice to make it look more like an office building. However the large expanse of the facade windows and the unornamented red brick walls on the other elevations reveal the warehouse function.

This building is also valuable because it is one of the few remaining that belonged to the Vancouver Gas Company, the first coal gas manufacturing complex of this early Vancouver utility (established in 1886). (By 1910 the Vancouver Gas Company was a part of the British Columbia Electric Company which became BC Hydro.)

It is also one of a handful of buildings associated with the intense industrial use on the north shore of False Creek for nearly a century from the 1880s. It would be hard to tell today because the area has been filled and the relationship to the water is no longer visible but the complex was located here to unload coal barges from Vancouver Island.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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