Monday, June 13, 2011

Hotels, Hotels, Hotels

This four-storey brick hotel with frontages to Alexander, Columbia and Powell streets was built in stages between 1905 and 1912. Originally  it was called the City Hotel then the Anchor Hotel. The upper floors are now part of the adjacent building to the west on Powell Street and the Alexander Residence and 58 Alexander Street.

There has been a hotel on the western portion of this lot since at least 1887. In 1905 a new and strictly first class three-story City Hotel was built on the eastern portion of the site with an entrance off of Columbia Street. In 1910 the older City Hotel to the west was removed and the new structure was expanded into that area and another floor was added.

As with many buildings of this sort in the area the upper floors were used for accommodation and the lower for entertainment. (saloon, bar, pool hall)

This building is associated with Bill Swanson. Swanson owned an interest in the hotel and, like many hotel owners, was active in the liquor trade. He was also an early pioneer and known as a wrestler. Swanson tackled the best that the Klondike could throw at him and won.
Bill Swanson had a colorful past and his story of how he went from humble miner to hotel owner showed the greatness of our early settlers and the remarkable spirit they had.
This six-storey, buff coloured brick structure is a great example of the Chicago School of architecture and has been at 435 West Pender Street since its completion in 1913.Originally it was known as the Connaught Hotel and its main facade is articulated to emulate the classical column with distinct divisions of base, column, and capital. Its upper and lower storeys are detailed with multi-textured brickwork, such as recessed banding and corbelling, but not the applied carving and ornamentation otherwise common in architecture of this type. The center section remains undecorated with plain brick walls. This modest and straightforward detailing lends the structure a solid, dignified and practical appearance.

The Connaught Hotel was built as a hotel for visiting businessmen. At the time it was built this was an area full of businesses and close to the Canadian Pacific Railway station and piers.

Walter William Walsh commissioned architect Otto W. Moberg to design this hotel for him. This building was one of  many holdings that Walsh held during the height of the Edwardian boom. As I have mentioned this was originally the Connaught Hotel and it later became known as the Niagra Hotel and had a prominent neon effigy sign of Niagra Falls. Now, as you can see, it is the Ramada Inn.

Little is known about Moberg. He was from Scandinavia and worked successfully in Vancouver for a few years before World War I. Although he designed some large downtown hotels, a few small apartments and industrial buildings he is best known for his work in both Hastings and Stanley Parks, notably the chalet-style 1911 dining pavilion in Stanley Park.

I hope you find the beauty around you.
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