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Twigge Block

141 Water Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6B, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2003/01/14

Exterior view of the Twigge Block; City of Vancouver, 2004
Oblique view
Exterior historic view of the Twigge Block; City of Vancouver, 2004
Oblique view, 1912
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Other Name(s)

Twigge Block
Malkin Warehouse

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/03/08

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Twigge Block is a five storey plus lower level commercial warehouse building located on the north side of Water Street in the historic district of Gastown. Originally built as two side-by-side three storey plus lower level rental warehouses, the two sides were later consolidated and two stories added on top. It was adapted in 1996 for use as residential units, with commercial space on the ground floor; two additional rooftop floors were added as part of this renovation.

Heritage Value

Gastown is the historic core of Vancouver, and is the city's earliest, most historic area of commercial buildings and warehouses. The Twigge Block, built for retired British Army Major-General John Twigge, 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, 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 are a clear indication of the extent and prosperity of wholesale trade during this period. During the height of the Klondike boom, this building was jointly occupied by W.H. Malkin and Co. and Kelly, Douglas and Co., both wholesale grocers. Over the next few years, both companies moved to successively larger warehouses on Water Street, evidence of an unprecedented economic boom in Vancouver during the pre-World War One era. The addition of two additional stories prior to 1910 indicates the pressure at the time to expand the size of warehousing facilities in Gastown.

As the warehousing and light industry functions in Gastown became obsolete, a number of these large warehouse structures have been adapted to other uses; this structure has now been converted for residential use and contributes to the ambiance of the Gastown historic district. Its 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

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Twigge Block include:
- 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 at the front or sides; open alley to the west side; and original loading bay area at the rear now obscured by later additions
- spatial relationship with other late Victorian and Edwardian era commercial buildings
- form, scale and massing as expressed by the original brick five-storey plus lower level height and rectangular plan
- masonry construction, with red brick front facade, common red brick side and rear walls, deeply punched window openings, segmental arches over the top storey windows joining the vertical pilasters, and rough-dressed sandstone foundation, lintel and sill blocks
- fenestration, including regular rectangular openings on the front facade upper floors, and rectangular storefront openings with iron I-beam headers with rosettes
- projecting bracketed sheet metal cornice at parapet level and sheet metal cornices above storefronts
- recessed centre line on front facade indicating construction in two halves
- heavy timber frame internal structure



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

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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