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Holland Block

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

Formally Recognized: 2003/01/14

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


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1891/01/01 to 1892/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/03/10

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Holland Block is a three storey plus basement mixed-use flatiron Victorian Italianate masonry building with retail areas on the ground floor. It is located on the western edge of the historic district of Gastown, on a triangular lot at the convergence of Cordova and Water Streets.

Heritage Value

Gastown is the historic core of Vancouver, and is the city's earliest, most historic area of commercial buildings and warehouses. The Holland Block is valued as an early Gastown commercial building and hotel, representative of the area's mix of uses 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 Holland Block is valued for its architecture 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. The building was constructed in 1891-92 for James M. Holland, an early real estate developer, to take advantage of a wedge-shape lot that allowed the ground-level retail stores access to two street frontages. The Holland Block is also valued as evidence of the influence of American architecture, as illustrated by design elements such as the repetitive bay windows that provide increased light and space in the second and third-floor rooms. Also of significance are the ground floor cast iron columns, manufactured by B.C. Iron Works, which demonstrate the use of prefabricated elements that enabled large storefront windows that maximized merchandising display space and took advantage of natural light.

The landmark location and flatiron shape of the Holland Block marks the western boundary of Gastown. This unusual lot was created when the subdivisions adjacent to the original 1870 Granville Townsite survey were oriented to different compass directions. Until the north side of Water Street was filled in at the turn of the nineteenth century, this site would have faced the waterfront across the street.

Source: City of Vancouver, Heritage Planning Street Files

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Holland Block include:
- landmark location at the western edge of Gastown, at the convergence of Water and Cordova Streets, in close proximity to the waterfront of Burrard Inlet and the Canadian Pacific Railway yard
- siting on the property lines, with no setbacks
- form, scale and massing, as exemplified by its three storey height, flat roof and flatiron shape, resulting from the converging relationship of the two streets
- masonry construction: rough-dressed sandstone piers at the ground floor level; brick cladding above with flush-struck mortar joints
- repetitive double-height semi-octagonal bays, clad in wood with formed sheet metal cladding on the curved base
- fenestration: double-hung 1-over-1 wood-sash windows on the upper floors; and large rectangular storefront windows with wood-sash storefronts
- wide projecting wood-clad cornice with sheet metal edges and flashings, with large decorative scroll-cut brackets between each bay
- prefabricated elements such as the storefront cast iron columns, with 'B.C. Iron Works' maker's stamps
- entry at front corner to basement level that extends in areaways under the sidewalks on both Water and Cordova Streets
- entry to the upper floors from Cordova Street
- surviving interior features such as original room configuration



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


Commerce / Commercial Services
Hotel, Motel or Inn
Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment

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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