If you live in Vancouver, you know that the Vancouver Art Gallery is housed in the old law courts, an imposing neo-classical building designed by celebrity architect Francis Rattenbury in 1906. What you may not know, and I did not until stumbling over a photo recently, was that the VAG started out in a gorgeous art deco building at 1145 West Georgia, a few blocks west from its current location.
Did you know that a commuter train used to run right through downtown Vancouver? I found out about it when I was over at Tom Carter’s studio checking out one of his amazing paintings. There it was, a train chugging across Hastings Street.
The train came up again when I was writing a blog post a couple of weeks ago about getting the star of my next book—Inspector Vance—from his home in Yaletown to his lab at Hastings and Main Street.
I’m writing a book about John F.C.B. Vance, the first forensic scientist in Vancouver, and this week I wrote about his first day of work as the new City Analyst. My book is non-fiction, but sometimes you need some creative license. My challenge was to get to get Vance from his house in Yaletown to Market Hall, a lovely long-gone gothic building on Westminster (Main Street) which doubled as City Hall.
Before CRAB Park was created in 1987, there was a funky Spanish Colonial-style building that sat on the pier at the foot of Main Street. Built in 1931 as the terminal for the Canadian National Steamship Company, access was by way of a roadway over the CPR railway tracks.
Tom Carter found this ca.1930s map from a Hotel Greeter’s Guide at MacLeod’s Books.
Just before you hit the bike only section of Point Grey Road at Alma you may have noticed that the corner lot is missing a lovely old heritage house. The lot sold for $4 million last year, and of course was advertised with a demolition permit and plan for a “brand new 2,800 sq.ft. house on a fantastic view lot” attached.
Heritage Vancouver hosted its 16th annual bus tour today, taking people to the buildings, streets and landscapes that the Society believes have the most perilous survival rate. And, it’s not just the mansions—but also schools, churches, streets, and areas—all the things that make a community rich.
Not all the buildings are that old either.
Love this photo taken in 1921 from Howe Street looking down West Hastings. The big building closest to the photographer is the Metropolitan at 837 West Hastings. It was built in 1912 to house the Metropolitan Club which then became the Terminal City Club and the building lasted until 1998. It was replaced with a 30-storey building called the Terminal City Tower.