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445 Gore Avenue

445 Gore Avenue, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2003/01/14

Exterior view of 445 Gore Avenue; City of Vancouver, 2004
Oblique view
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Other Name(s)

445 Gore Avenue
Hotel Reco
East Hotel

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/03/29

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

This four-storey combined retail and residential block is located at 445 Gore Avenue at the eastern edge of Vancouver's historic Chinatown.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of 445 Gore Avenue lies in its association with the expansion of Chinatown east of Main Street and its architect and architecture. Its heritage value is also derived from what it tells us about the history of housing in Chinatown, and Vancouver more generally.

This building was constructed in 1912 at a time when Chinatown was expanding east of Main Street. Lee Kee, who owned the building, was one of Chinatown's leading merchants. He, like his wealthy contemporaries, invested in real estate, helping to shape the boundaries and built form of Chinatown through his investment decisions. Lee Kee's choice of Samuel Buttrey Birds as architect adds to the building's heritage value. Birds designed numerous buildings in Vancouver, and others in Chinatown, including mixed commercial and residential developments at 509 Carrall Street, 124 Pender Street, and alterations to 3-5 West Pender for the Chinese Freemasons Association. Like much of Birds's work, the building is stark and utilitarian.

The timing of construction adds to the building's heritage value; it was built in the same time period as most of the buildings standing in Chinatown today. Likewise, its uses are quite typical of Chinatown. The ground floor accommodated various businesses; H. Wong Agencies has a long association with the building, and may have acted as an employment agent for shingle mills - one of the common areas of employment for Chinese men. The upper floors provided housing. Known first as the Hotel Reco and later as the East Hotel, Lee Kee's decision to build rental accommodation was likely informed by the fact that Chinatown's population expanded considerably between 1910 and 1920. The hotel rooms were likely designed to accommodate working class Chinese, mostly 'married bachelors', in small single rooms. By the 1970s, women were also living in the hotel. The enduring problems faced by the poor, including the elderly, in search of housing in Vancouver are illustrated by the protests against a proposal to close the hotel by elderly tenants and community activists in 1974.

Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of 445 Gore Avenue include its:
- Location at the corner of Gore Avenue and Pender Street, marking the eastern edge or gateway to historic Chinatown
- Use for housing, especially of poorer members of the community
- Ground floor use by businesses
- The articulation of the facades seen in elements such as the tall brick panels within which the windows are framed, the recessed panels on the main elevation and the tall bay windows
- The dun coloured brick
- The wide metal cornice following and emphasising the articulation of the wall surface
- Wide awnings covering goods displayed on the pavement



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
Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Multiple Dwelling

Architect / Designer

Samuel Buttrey Birds



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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