157 Alexander Street
157 Alexander Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6A, Canada
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The historic place at 157 Alexander Street is a three storey, brick and terra cotta warehouse with basement on a shallow but wide lot between Alexander Street and the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks, in Vancouver's historic Gastown.
The heritage value of 157 Alexander Street resides in its association with architect William Marshall Dodds, and in its history of use.
The warehouse is of value as the only commercial work of distinguished and prolific Canadian architect William Marshall Dodd to have been identified in Vancouver. Dodd moved his practice moved to Vancouver in 1911 and designed a large number of competent buildings in western Canada. He is credited with having introduced the Classical Revival style, as seen here, to commercial architecture in Calgary.
Further value is found in the way that the building's successive functions reflect important aspects of British Columbia's history, and in the transition of Vancouver's commercial district from heavy industry to white-collar based businesses. Built in 1913 by E.W. Cook and Co. (as a hide and fur warehouse for Jacobsen and Goldberg Co.), the function is an echo of the fur trade economy on which British Columbia was founded. The extensive street level storey-height glazing almost certainly speaks to the function of the building's lower storeys as the workshops of BC Grinnall glove manufacturer, favoured by locomotive engineers, and the White Manufacturing Company, maker of a popular brand called 'White Seal' mittens.
The purchase of the warehouse around 1919 by the H. G. White company (importers and exporters) speaks to the buildings ideal location close to the Port of Vancouver, and alongside the tracks of the Canadian Pacific Railway - key factors in the development of Vancouver's commercial district. The long tenure of ships chandlers Gordon and Belyea from 1925, and subsequently Burnyeats (BC) Ltd through the 1930s and 50s, reminds us of Vancouver's importance as a commercial port linking the BC hinterland and its wealth of commodities with the rest of the world by sea. The conversion to offices in the 1970s reflects the shift of the commercial centre west towards Granville Street. The subsequent conversion to offices for barristers reflects a short-lived concentration of the legal profession.
The building is unusual for having had windows on all four elevations (three remain visible), a feature that reminds us of the access road to the Canadian Pacific Railway tracks to the east, the tracks themselves to the north and the deep underpass (now built over) to the west giving access below the rail tracks to the north Vancouver Ferry terminal.
Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program
The character defining elements of 157 Alexander Street include:
- Location of building adjacent to railway sidings and near the former Port of Vancouver
- Construction on three adjacent shallow lots, fully developed to create a wide, shallow building
- The plain facade punctured by rows of window openings, articulated by corbelled brick courses at cornice level and by a projecting string above the ground floor windows
- Materials of construction, including the terra cotta ground floor pilasters and the brick walls above with stuccoed mock voussoirs to the first floor windows
- Sheet metal cornice on south, east, and west elevations
- Overhang of cornice at west end and infill slip below (that remind us this elevation was never intended to be a party wall)
- The remains of the windows as well as painted and applied signage on the west elevation
- Finished woodwork at ground floor street level, including the bay width windows with central doors and multi-light upper panels and the quadrant panels at the corners of the windows, giving the impression of a barrel-vaulted warehouse
- Finished woodwork including the double-hung vertical sliding sash assemblies, the eight light upper sash, the lower single light sash and their glass
- The remains of paint layers on the finished woodwork
City of Vancouver
Vancouver Charter, s.582
Community Heritage Register
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
Function - Category and Type
- Animal Products Processing Facility
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Office or Office Building
Architect / Designer
William Marshall Dodds
E.W. Cook and Co.
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program
Cross-Reference to Collection