Leeson, Dickie, Gross & Co. Warehouse
134 Abbott Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6B, Canada
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Leeson, Dickie, Gross and Co. Warehouse is a six-storey plus lower level Edwardian era masonry structure, built in 1909, located at the northeast corner of Water and Abbott Streets in the historic district of Gastown.
Gastown is the historic core of Vancouver, and is the city's earliest, most historic area of commercial buildings and warehouses. The Leeson, Dickie, Gross and Co. Warehouse is representative of the importance of Gastown as the trans-shipment point between the terminus of the railway and Pacific shipping routes, and the consequent expansion of Vancouver into western Canada's predominant commercial centre in the early twentieth century. As Vancouver prospered, substantial warehouses were built on piles on infilled water lots between Water Street and the Canadian Pacific Railway trestle. The massive cubic form, high density, large clear-span floor-plate and notable height of this structure, built for a wholesale grocery firm, are a clear indication of the extent and prosperity of commercial trade during this period.
The Leeson, Dickie, Gross and Co. Warehouse is also significant as an example of the commercial work of progressive local architects Parr and Fee. Rapid advances in technology enabled John Edmeston Parr (1856-1923) and Thomas A. Fee (1860-1929) to use concrete as a structural and fireproof material. This innovative building was one of the first large scale commercial uses of this method in Vancouver. The concrete technology is also expressed on the exterior, as the edges of the floor slabs extend outwards to the façade and act as the base for the courses of brick cladding. Although this building displays considerable sophistication in its palette of materials and its deft handling of the scale of its architectural elements, the utilitarian exterior is a clear indication of its original use.
This former warehouse, which has been converted for office uses on the upper floors, contributes to the ambiance of the Gastown historic district. Its early adaptive reuse within the context of the redevelopment of Gastown as a heritage district represents the changing nature of the local context and economy from warehousing and manufacturing to commercial, retail and residential uses.
Source: City of Vancouver, Heritage Planning Street Files
The character-defining elements of the Leeson, Dickie, Gross and Co. Warehouse include:
- prominent corner location on the north side of Water Street, in close proximity to the waterfront of Burrard Inlet and the Canadian Pacific Railway yard
- siting on the property lines, with no setbacks
- cubic massing as expressed in the six-storey plus lower level height, flat roof and rectangular plan
- oversized scale of architectural elements, such as the massive carved granite ground floor capitals and foundation blocks
- early use of reinforced board-formed concrete as a structural material, as visible in its interior spaces (octagonal columns and rectangular beams), extended floor slabs on the exterior front and west facades and exposed rear facade
- ribbon-assembly fenestration
- high quality materials and workmanship, as demonstrated in architectural features such as high-fire iron spot variegated brick and red tooled mortar
- large open-span interior spaces
City of Vancouver
Vancouver Charter, s.593
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
Architect / Designer
Parr and Fee
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Vancouver, Heritage Planning Street Files
Cross-Reference to Collection