Description of Historic Place
An important symbolic and visual landmark in Vancouver, the Former Main Post Office is an imposing Beaux Arts design. Strongly classical, this solid and imposing granite-faced building has a rusticated stone base punctuated by round arched opening, a row of monumental columns, broken segmental pediments, a high mansard roof and a domed corner clock tower. The Former Main Post Office is the key building in an integrated, block of four buildings known as the Sinclair Centre. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Former Main Post Office is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
Built between 1905 and 1910 to serve as Vancouver’s main post office, the Former Main Post Office is associated with the expansion of the federal government presence throughout the country, which reached a peak in the years between 1900 and 1913. The Former Post Office is symbolically and visually an important landmark in Vancouver.
Valued for its very good aesthetics, excellent functional design, and its good quality craftsmanship and materials, the Former Post Office is a good example of federal architecture of the time and displays the Beaux-Arts Classical detailing characteristic of a group of major public buildings designed under the direction of David Ewart, chief architect for the Department of Public Works. It is a rectangular, nine-bay wide building clad in Agassiz and smooth-faced granite with a high mansard roof. Excellent craftsmanship and materials are evident throughout.
The Former Main Post Office is compatible with the present character of its downtown commercial setting. Along with the adjacent buildings, it contributes to an architecturally cohesive grouping of 20th-century stone-clad buildings and is a well-known local landmark.
Sources: Edward Mills, Former Main Post Office, Vancouver, British Columbia, Federal Heritage Building Review Office Building Report 83-024; Former Main Post Office, Vancouver, British Columbia, Heritage Character Statement, 83-024.
The character-defining elements of the Former Main Post Office should be respected.
Its very good aesthetic design, excellent functional design and good materials and craftsmanship, for example:
- the Granville and Hastings Streets façades of the building;
- the whole of its tower, visible roof elements, and surviving original doors, windows, and architectural hardware;
- its solid, dignified, and imposing Beaux-Arts design, executed in Agassiz granite;
- the engaged corner tower, which was, in those years, the icon of federal presence;
- its tower, which makes an important contribution to the vista down Granville Street to the harbour;
- the self-contained aspect of the building and the block of which it is a part, which is fundamental to its symbolic role as "federal presence" as understood at the time it was built.
The manner in which the Former Main Post Office reinforces the present character of its downtown commercial setting and is a well-known local landmark as evidenced by:
- the building’s prominence, due to its overall scale, monumental Beaux-arts design, massing and materials, which are compatible with its commercial surroundings;
- its location as part of an integrated block of four buildings known as Sinclair Centre in downtown Vancouver, which makes it a familiar building to residents of the city.