Last month, Michael Kluckner wrote a guest blog about the hidden houses of Vancouver. It was hugely popular and readers wrote in to let me know about more of these houses. Today’s blog is a compilation of those comments, photos and emails.
Homeowners started building shops in front of their houses in the 1920s. Businesses ranged from bakeries and meat markets to cigarette and barber shops, shoe repairs and book stores. As Bill Lee points out, often with some bet taking on the side. “Having a small shop was a common second occupation in a family up to the 1960s when women had more opportunities for work,” he says.
Gregory Melle says the store on Kitsilano’s 4th Avenue near Burrard was his late brother’s “head shop” in the early ’70s. Later it became an Indian restaurant. “I was amused to see last year that it had reverted to the same business for which it was infamous in my brother’s day,” he says.
Murray Maisey tells me that the house at Granville (near 12th) was originally owned by Maud Leslie. Maud and her daughter June added a book store called The Library in 1928 at #2820. City directories for that year show Beattie Realty at 2818, which later became the Antiseptic Barber Shop in 1935 (today it is the Black Goat cashmere shop). Daniel le Chocolat is the current tenant at 2820. Check out Murray’s story on his awesome blog Vancouver As it Was.
Susan Anderson says her favourite buried house dates back to 1911 and hides behind BC Stamp Works at 583 Richards Street. “My great grandparents owned a house at 540 Howe Street and this building is the only remaining building like this north of Georgia Street,” says Susan. ‘The building has been covered up so completely I am not surprised people don’t know it’s there.”
Kim Richards says the stores on the east side of Mackenzie at 33rd including neighbourhood favourite Bigsby the Bakehouse, are a front for some hidden houses currently facing development pressure. Check out Mackenzie Heights Community page.
Ryan Dyer has his own hidden house at 820 East Pender, built in 1904 and moved to the back of the property in 1908.
“There were originally three lots with three houses. Two of the houses were moved to the back of the properties and apartment buildings built at the front,” says Ryan. “The third house was amalgamated with the east apartment building, but can be seen if you look at the roof line of the building to the east of mine (828 east Pender).”
David Byrnes says he lived in a cottage/storefront at 2291 West 41st in Kerrisdale in the 1960s, and Penny Street notes that 1314 Commercial Drive–now Beckwoman’s Hippie Emporium appropriately fronts a hidden house—”Possibly a BC Mills pre-fab,” she says.
Dan Enjo says there is still a house in the rear of Numbers at 1042 Davie, and the older floor space is part of the club. “There’s a noticeable bump between the newer and older buildings on the inside floor in places,” he says.
The house that is the Gurkha Himalayan Kitchen is quite visible, even though it’s now fronted by a market at 1141 Davie.
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