Our Missing Hotel Heritage: What were we thinking?

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The much lamented—and never should have come down–second Hotel Vancouver should have the number one spot on any much missed heritage building list, but I’d argue that the Devonshire should be a close second. When it comes to hotels, we’ve pulled down a lot of them. Here’s my Top 7 list of downtown hotels missing from our landscape.

Second Hotel Vancouver

1. The Second Hotel Vancouver (1916-1949)

Built in 1916 and pulled down just 33 years later to make way for a parking lot, this was one of the most elegant and ornate buildings we ever destroyed. Its eventual replacement (the former Sears building, Pacific Centre), is to put it mildly, disappointing.

The Devonshire Hotel, West Georgia, CVA LGN 1060 ca.1925
The Devonshire Hotel, West Georgia, CVA LGN 1060 ca.1925

2. The Devonshire (1923-1981)

The Devonshire was originally designed as an apartment building and sat between the Hotel Georgia and the Georgia Medical Dental Building. There’s a great story from 1951 that goes when Louis Armstrong and his All Stars were kicked out of the Hotel Vancouver they walked across the street and were given rooms in the Devonshire. Supposedly Duke Ellington, Lena Horne and the Mills Brothers wouldn’t stay anywhere else.

Glencoe Lodge in 1932 CVA Hot N3
Glencoe Lodge in 1932 CVA Hot N3

3. The Glencoe Lodge (1906-1932)

The Glencoe Lodge (also known as the Hotel Belfred) was built or “assembled” as a residential hotel by sugar baron B.T. Rogers, and as Heather Gordon notes was managed by Jean Mollison, who was known as the “grand Chatelaine.” It sat at the corner of West Georgia and Burrard, and some well known guests included Lord Strathcona, W.H. Malkin, a former mayor and wealthy grocer, and Alvo von Alvensleben.

The Manor House, CVA Bu P 402 1892
The Manor House, CVA Bu P 402 1892

4. Manor House/Badminton Hotel 1889-1936

As noted at Past Tense, the Manor House was one of the earliest buildings constructed west of Granville Street. Designed by William Blackmore, it sat at the southwest corner of Dunsmuir (603 Howe Street). For details see Glen Mofford’s page.

The Hotel Elysium ca.1911 CVA Hot P16
The Hotel Elysium ca.1911 CVA Hot P16

5. Hotel Elysium (1911-1970s)

As Michael Kluckner notes in Vancouver Remembered, when it opened on April Fool’s Day, 1911, the Elysium was a good building built in the wrong part of town. Located at 1140 West Pender, it was converted into suites by C.B.K. Van Norman in 1943 and renamed Park Plaza.

Alcazar Hotel, ca.1955 Jan de Haas photo, courtesy Wiebe de Haas
Alcazar Hotel, ca.1955 Jan de Haas photo, courtesy Wiebe de Haas

6. Alcazar Hotel (1912-1982)

The Alcazar Hotel hung in for 70 years at 337 Dunsmuir, before being taken out in the early 1980s and eventually became the BC Hydro building. According to Changing Vancouver, the Alcazar featured 1940s murals by Jack Shadbolt in the dining room.

790 Howe Street
York Hotel CVA 99-3995, 1931

7. York Hotel (1911-1968)

The York Hotel sat at 790 Howe Street at the corner of Robson. According to Changing Vancouver it was built as an annex for the Hotel Vancouver, and its purpose was to maintain a CPR hotel presence while the second Hotel Vancouver was built. And, yes it was replaced by the Pacific Centre Mall eyesore, which took out so many great heritage buildings.

For more posts see: Our Missing Heritage

© All rights reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, all blog content copyright Eve Lazarus.

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  1. Hi. I a wracking my brain about this, but wasn’t the York Hotel where Radio CJOR broadcast from? There was a lovely entrance, several marble stairs down to a lower level,and they had a recording and booth set-up, I believe.

    Also, what old time vancouverites can forget The Dev Seafood House at the Devonshire hotel? Wonderful food, first class service, reminiscent of Hy’s. Or for a different experience the same evening, one could wander down to Oil Can Harry’s.

    As for the Alcazar, the murals were lovely, but in its later days most people went for the cheap beer. (It had become that type of neighbourhood).

    1. I’m just jealous that you got to see so many of these old hotels. They were all gone by the time I got to Vancouver in the ’80s. Hopefully someone cam answer your question about CJOR, I’m also curious.

    2. CJOR broadcast from the Grosvenor, which was just south of the York on the same side of Howe Street, at least in the early 1980s when I first got radio gigs. In “Vanishing Vancouver” (1990) p. 39, there’s a photo of it and the note that CJOR broadcast from a little building across the street but eventually moved into the hotel basement. CJOR moved to Fairview in the early ’80s, then became ‘classic rock’ station CHRX following a period when former premier Dave Barrett, among others, was a talk-show host. The Grosvenor was demolished in the early 1980s – I don’t have the exact date, but it would have been within a year or so of the Dev coming down. The Grosvenor had Bob Lyon, a bandleader who played for many years at the Commodore and elsewhere, as its manager for a long time; if memory serves (and I’m not sure it does), Lyon was the father of Carol Dale, a partner with Louise Hager in Vancouver bookstores over the years including Hager’s and Women in Print.

      Two hotels worth mentioning are the Ritz on Georgia west of Burrard, which started as a YMCA building but was completed as a hotel; it had a beer parlour as fine as the Dev’s and was also demolished in the 1980s. Also, the Cecil at the north end of the Granville Bridge next to the Yale, which wasn’t necessarily such an architectural statement but was the great gathering place of hippies, alternative writers, feminists, environmentalists and so on in its heyday in the mid-1970s, by which time the Alcazar had faded somewhat in popularity.

      1. Thanks for all this great information Michael, I’ll check out the Ritz (and I remember the Cecil). Trade you a copy of Cold Case Vancouver and a beer for a copy of Vanishing Vancouver (seem to have loaned out mine)

        1. I’ll keep an eye out for the old Vanishing Vancouver in used-book stores. I just have my dog-eared copy. We’ll figure out something to trade regardless!

  2. Eve……I am glad that you highlighted the illogical and short sighted destruction of the ” Second Hotel Vancouver………Imagine destroying an Architectural gem, such as the one pictured, after only 33 years of use( 1916- 1949), for a bloody parking lot!

  3. Thank-you for blogging a subject close to my heart, the wonderful historic hotels of Vancouver that are no longer with us. These magnificent buildings would have been saved but for the short-sighted, money chasing entrepreneurs with the mind set of new is better.
    Can you imagine if these buildings were saved and properly maintained today? Vancouver would look quite differently than it does – yet another generic large city with a sea of towers lacking character and history.

  4. And a note about Glencoe Lodge. B.T. Rogers bought it in 1906 and installed Miss Mollison, who had run railway hotels at North Bend and in the Rockies, as manager. The revenue from it was the “mad money” for the Rogers’s elder two daughters, neither of whom received sugar refinery stock when BT died and both of whom married itinerant Russian musicians. The situation continued successfully through the 1920s but, in 1931, Mrs. Rogers agreed to let Miss Mollison continue at half rent during the Depression; her daughters and husbands, however, needed more income, so Mrs. Rogers terminated the Glencoe lease and signed it over to a man named F.M.W. Rowe, who changed the name to the Belfred but couldn’t make it work. Mrs. Rogers had the building demolished in 1933, after she had been dragged into court by unpaid renovation contractors hired by Rowe, and two years later leased the property to the Standard Oil company. The Chevron station with its Spanish tile roof was a fixture of that corner until about 1970. This info is also from my old Vanishing Vancouver, page 50.

  5. Thanks, Eve, for taking on this wonderful topic. I came from England in 1967 from England with my family. Not knowing one hotel from the next, my mum arranged for us to stay at the Georgia Hotel when our ship docked at the old Ballantine Pier. We stayed for a couple of weeks in a room overlooking the water fountain in front of the old Law Courts (now the Van. Art Gallery). When my mum realised that the Georgia Hotel was a bit too expensive we moved to the Sylvia Hotel for a month before getting our family set for our new life in Canada! Not a bad way to start our new lives-:) I’m pleased that at least these two hotels are still with us (albeit the Georgia is a bit changed in scope!

  6. The Alcazar was THE drinking place for the Post Office workers (usually the mail carriers who got off work early), and art teachers, artists and art students (me). The bar was a fascinatingly brightly lit room with a rather modernist abstract fountain in the middle. But it was always a pleasure to have a meal in the room that Jack Shadbolt painted. Very abstract/surrealist mural. Where the light standards were over the tables, Jack had painted around these what looked like eye lashes. Little flourishes like that made it a wonderful place.


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