Army and Navy Department Store
T. Eaton and Company Store
Links and documents
1948/01/01 to 1949/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The T. Eaton and Company Store is a modernistic two-storey commercial masonry building, with simple flat upper facade and a stepped flat awning. It is situated on the south side of Columbia Street at the foot of Church Street on New Westminster's main commercial street in the historic downtown core.
The T. Eaton and Company Store is significant as a late contribution to the distinctive built form of Columbia Street, which dates from when New Westminster was the major centre of commerce and industry for the booming Fraser Valley area.
The historic use pattern is important to the heritage value of the T. Eaton and Company Store, which has been central to New Westminster's economy since 1892. Before the current building was designed to incorporate them, the site consisted of three separate structures and one urban square, each with a unique history. First, Lytton Square was a public square designed by Colonel Richard Moody and the Royal Engineers to be the centre of the town plan. Second, the 1901 Hotel Lytton was built with frontages on both the Square and on Front Street. Third, the City Market was originally established in 1893, being replaced by a larger building in 1896. The Great Fire of 1898 necessitated the construction of a new market to the design of George William Grant (1852-1925) in 1899. The market was again destroyed by fire in the 1920s, to be re-built in 1925-26 by Vancouver architects McCarter and Nairne, and which served the community until 1947 when a new public market was established at the western end of Columbia Street. Fourth, the 1909 Thompson Block originally consisted of street level shops with apartments above. However, it was renovated in 1926 to conform to the adjoining market, paving the way for its eventual incorporation into the T. Eaton and Company Store.
The T. Eaton and Company Store is valued as an example of the large department stores that began to proliferate in downtowns prior to and after the Second World War. The large floor plan and wide variety of goods attracted shoppers and emphasized a new modern way of shopping. This building in particular emphasized its modernity in its designs and had one of the largest floor plates in the Columbia Street area. The store is now occupied by the Army and Navy Department Store, which has maintained it, including the original open floor layout, in its 1949 configuration.
Additionally, the T. Eaton and Company Store is valued for its association with the architect of its renovation in 1949, Charles Burwell Kerrens Van Norman, who helped define modernism in Vancouver. The International style of the building reflects the rapidly changing post-War technology as well as the Modernist movement of the 1940s and 1950s. Technologically, the T. Eaton and Company Store is valued for containing the first moving, motorized stair installed in the Fraser Valley area.
Source: Heritage Planning Files, City of New Westminster
Key elements that define the heritage character of the T. Eaton and Company Store include its:
- corner location on Columbia Street, on a steeply sloping site that backs onto Front Street, part of a grouping of commercial buildings in historic downtown New Westminster
- siting on the property line, with no setbacks
- massive horizontal form, two-storey plus lower level height, flat roof and cubic massing, including the form of the three older incorporated buildings, evident at the rear where the two-storey Lytton Hotel stands facing Front Street, and the area of open space at the rear
- elements of the International Style, including: stepped overhanging flat awnings edged with stainless steel; blank upper front facade detailed with incised lines; large recessed entrances; aluminum window sash; and extensive areas of glass including glass butt glazing on the Columbia Street facade
- surviving interior elements that date to the 1949 renovation such as the column casings, stairwells with metal handrails and interior finishes
- original elements of the Hotel Lytton, including: its two-storey form, scale and massing; brick cladding concealed under a later coat of stucco; segmental arched window openings; and double-hung 1-over-1 wooden-sash windows
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.954
Community Heritage Register
1901/01/01 to 1901/01/01
1909/01/01 to 1909/01/01
1925/01/01 to 1926/01/01
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Hotel, Motel or Inn
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Architect / Designer
Charles Burwell Kerrens Van Norman
A.C. McDougall and Sons
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Planning Files, City of New Westminster
Cross-Reference to Collection