Friday, August 9, 2013

An Edwardian Owl

Today I am going to take a break from writing on the premiers of this province and tell you more about the city. To start with, let's look at a building located at 375 Main Street.

I took these photos from the bus because the people who live in this area of town do not like cameras and pictures being taken. Ergo, I have to be a bit clever when trying to photograph the city's history here.

At the turn of the twentieth century, this area of town was gradually developed into the city's civic and commercial core. (The spectacular Carnegie Centre is on the opposite side of Hastings and Main to this and at one time, the Pantages Theatre stood less than a block away.)

This structure, the Ford or Dawson building, is a fine example of then Chicago-style Edwardian commercial development of that era. It was designed in 1911.

This building is characterized by a gridded facade with two light wells facing Hastings Street, which allows light into the interior offices. (I have wondered for a while about those recesses.) As we have seen with many buildings in this area, from the beginning the storefronts were primarily occupied by retail outlets while the upper floors catered to professionals such as dentists, doctors, lawyers, contractors and real estate agents. In the 1930s, the offices above were occupied by Japanese businessmen while in more recent times, professionals of Chinese descent and socially minded agencies and unions called this building home. That was until 1984.

In 1984, this address was converted to social housing. 322 existing windows were replaced with traditional Pella metal clad (double-hung) wood sash windows; stone window sills were inspected and repaired and existing wood was treated and repainted. Every effort seems to have been taken to preserve the history of this fine building but there were areas that had deteriorated beyond repair. Those sections were replaced with materials to match the existing elements.

An interesting note? Owl Drugs has been at that location since the building opened in 1912.

From Main and Hastings, I am now taking you east to the Grandview area. This home, from the same era, is located at 2050 E 4th Avenue.

There is no known building permit for this house but VanMap says it was built in 1912, which seems right. The first listed resident is Bryon J. Page in June of 1912. (VanMap is a web-based application through the City of Vancouver. It allows a person to view the city through map form and contains lots of information including zoning information, crime data and information about addresses to name a few. Very handy!)

This is a large 2 1/2 storey Edwardian structure. It has verandahs to take advantage of the fabulous view - and believe me, the view when this home was built would have been awe-inspiring. There is a strongly triangular front gable, sleeping porches, a cut-in porch with an off centre front door and a bay window on the other side. And all that mass at the front is supported by only two posts. That would worry me except for the fact that the building has stood on this hill for over one hundred years.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse at two of Vancouver's historical buildings. I would like to thank the Grandview Heritage Group for the information on the home on East 4th and Bob_2006 at for the information on the Ford/Dawson building.

Have a great weekend and I hope you find the beauty around you.

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