William Dick Building
379 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6B, Canada
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The William Dick Building is a three-storey plus basement, Chicago School-style masonry building, clad in cream-coloured glazed terra cotta. It is located on the northeast corner of West Hastings and Homer Streets, within the context of other commercial buildings of similar age and scale.
The William Dick Building is valued as an excellent and notably intact example of the Chicago School, representing the late persistence of the influence of the style which had achieved predominance earlier in the century and remained popular as a commercial style until the onset of the Great Depression. It is significant for its elaborate use of decorative terra cotta on the two main facades, that displays the shallow stylized bas-relief ornamentation typical of the interwar period.
The elaborate design of this 1926 structure reflects the importance of West Hastings Street at the time as the city's primary retail and commercial location. Hastings Street was already well-established as the city's most significant retail strip, and was further enhanced with the post-First World War return of prosperity and confidence. In the mid-1920s, major department stores began to develop along the street, including the new Spencer's Department Store and a massive addition to Woodward's, reinforcing this as the pre-eminent regional retail destination.
Additionally, the building is significant for its association with William Dick, who owned British Columbia Estates, a successful local real estate development company, and who later served as a Conservative MLA. Dick was also a prosperous Vancouver clothier, and commissioned this building for use as a clothing store.
Furthermore, the William Dick Building is a significant design by prominent local architects Fred L. Townley (1887-1966) and Robert M. Matheson (1887-1935). Townley and Matheson was a successful local architectural firm whose commissions included the Vancouver Stock Exchange (1928-29) and Vancouver City Hall (1935-36). The William Dick Building reflects the architects' familiarity with American design precedents, as both had received architectural training at the University of Pennsylvania. Three years later, William Dick commissioned the same firm to design another building at West Broadway and Granville Streets.
Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program
Key elements that define the heritage character of the William Dick Building include its:
- corner location in an area of historic commercial buildings on Hastings Street
- contribution to the streetscape as part of an unbroken streetwall with continuous retail storefronts
- siting on the property lines, with no setbacks
- commercial form, scale and massing, as expressed by its rectangular plan, three-storey height, partial above ground basement, flat roof and symmetrical facades
- Chicago School style, as expressed by symmetrical facade articulation, large rectangular ground floor display windows, regular upper floor fenestration, recessed spandrels, Chicago windows on the upper two floors, and modest projecting cornice
- masonry construction, as expressed by the smooth dressed grey granite block foundation, cream-coloured glazed terra cotta cladding, and common red brick side and rear walls
- fenestration, including original wooden-sash Chicago windows, with fixed centre panes with operable side sash
City of Vancouver
Vancouver Charter, s.582
Community Heritage Register
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Architect / Designer
Robert L. Matheson
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program
Cross-Reference to Collection