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Hickey Block

228 Abbott Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6B, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1974/12/17

Exterior view of the Hickey Block (left) and Rees & Higgins Block (right); City of Vancouver, 2004
Oblique view
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Other Name(s)

Hickey Block
Abbott Cosmopolitan Rooms

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/03/07

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Hickey Block is a two-storey masonry commercial building, which originally housed street level retail stores with hotel rooms above, located on the east side of Abbott Street in the historic district of Gastown. There is a secondary facade that faces the adjacent service lane to the north.

Heritage Value

Gastown is the historic core of Vancouver, and is the city's earliest, most historic area of commercial buildings and warehouses. The Hickey Block is valued as an early Gastown hotel, representative of the area's seasonal population in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as Vancouver emerged as western Canada's predominant commercial centre. Hotels such as this provided both short and long-term lodging, serving primarily those who worked in the seasonal resource trades such as fishing and logging. Many of these hotels had combined functions of commercial services on the ground floor and lodging rooms on the upper floors, which contributed to the lively street life in Gastown.

The Hickey Block is valued as a fine example of the Victorian Italianate style from the late nineteenth century, illustrating how popular architectural styles were used by the hotel business to market a progressive image. This was one of the earliest brick hotels built after the Great Fire of 1886, demonstrating the importance of fireproof construction, which was a selling point to potential customers. This building also illustrates the informal and expedient pattern of ownership and construction seen in the boom years that followed the arrival of the railway. It was constructed in 1889 for Patrick Hickey, but had a unified facade treatment with the smaller Rees & Higgins Block to the south. The two buildings were often jointly occupied on the second floor, and later served as the temporary Central City Mission until its permanent home was built in 1911 across the street at 233 Abbott Street.

Source: City of Vancouver, Heritage Planning Street Files

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that define the heritage character of the Hickey Block include its:
- spatial relationship to the adjacent Rees and Higgins Block and other nearby late Victorian and Edwardian era commercial and hotel buildings in the area
- siting on the property lines, with no setbacks at front or alley elevations; service alley to the north side
- two-storey flat-roof form, horizontal scale and rectangular plan massing
- masonry construction: original red brick front and north side facades, obscured by later stucco; and common red brick facade at the rear
- symmetrical front and north side facades
- facade treatment continued down the north side service alley
- continuous belt course above the second storey windows, that connects to the adjacent Rees & Higgins Block to the south
- projecting window heads above second storey window openings
- fenestration; rectangular storefront openings with smaller window openings on the second floor
- four original cast iron columns at the ground floor storefront



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

City of Vancouver

Recognition Statute

Vancouver Charter, s.593

Recognition Type

Heritage Designation

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type


Commerce / Commercial Services
Eating or Drinking Establishment


Commerce / Commercial Services
Hotel, Motel or Inn

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Vancouver, Heritage Planning Street Files

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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