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J.W. Horne Block

315 West Cordova Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6B, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2003/01/14

Exterior view of the J.W. Horne Block; City of Vancouver, 2004
Oblique view
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Other Name(s)

J.W. Horne Block
Horne Block
Brinsmead Block

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/03/08

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The J.W. Horne Block is a three storey plus lower level masonry Victorian Italianate residential building. It is located at the convergence of West Cordova Street and a back alley, in the historic district of Gastown. Together with the adjacent Springer and Van Bramer Block, it forms a contiguous unit that fills a wedge-shaped lot where the city's early surveys meet at an acute angle.

Heritage Value

Gastown is the historic core of Vancouver, and is the city's earliest, most historic area of commercial buildings and warehouses. The Gastown historic district retains a consistent and distinctive built form that is a manifestation of successive economic waves that followed the devastation of the Great Fire in 1886, the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) in 1887, the Klondike Gold Rush and the western Canadian boom that occurred prior to the First World War. The J.W. Horne Block 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 late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As Vancouver prospered, office spaces were required for businesses related to the commercial activities of the area. The exuberant design and detailing of the J.W. Horne Block illustrate the prosperity of the early Gastown commercial district; it was one of the most prestigious early office and retail locations in the city. Substantial structures were developed on Cordova Street, and the massive cubic form, high density and notable height of this structure are a clear indication of the extent and prosperity of commercial trade during the first period of Gastown's development.

The J.W. Horne Block is significant for its association with real estate developer and Alderman James W. Horne, who owned more land in the area than any single other person, second only to the CPR. Built in 1889, the J.W. Horne Block is significant as one of the earliest brick buildings constructed in Gastown after the Great Fire. The triangular form of the building, which gives it landmark status, was dictated by the convergence of the original 1870 Granville Townsite survey and the CPR's 1885 grid plan survey to the south.

It is also significant for its elaborate use of Victorian Italianate elements, and as a surviving work by American-born architect Noble Stonestreet Hoffar (1843-1907). One of Vancouver's first architects, Hoffar made a considerable contribution to the evolution of the city in the period between 1886 and the mid-1890s with his design and construction of many of the city's largest and most substantial Victorian Italianate structures such as this block, the adjacent Springer and Van Bramer Block and the Dunn Block on Cordova Street.

Source: City of Vancouver, Heritage Planning Street Files

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the J.W. Horne Block include:
- siting on the property lines, with no setbacks
- contiguous relationship of the building with the adjacent Springer and Van Bramer Block
- form, scale and massing, as exemplified by its three storey plus lower level height, flat roof, flatiron shape and triangular floor plan resulting from the relationship of the street and alley
- Victorian Italianate design elements and detailing such as the decorative segmental arches over the windows and fluted pilasters
- masonry construction: brick front facade cladding; decorative parged work including stringcourses, pilasters and sunburst motifs above upper floor windows; continuous monolithic granite thresholds at the storefront openings; rubble foundations; and common red brick rear facade
- early prefabricated building elements such as cast iron columns, with maker's mark 'Vancouver City Foundry' and elaborate capitals with initial 'H' for Horne
- ground level rectangular storefront windows with wooden sash profiles
- double-hung 1-over-1 wood-sash windows on the upper floors
- decorative columns and brackets at storefront level
- chamfered corner with small third storey balcony with pierced balustrades



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
Office or Office Building

Architect / Designer

Noble Stonestreet Hoffar



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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