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Phoenix Hotel

237 East Hastings Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1994/11/21

Phoenix Hotel; City of Vancouver, 2004
front facade
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Other Name(s)

Phoenix Hotel
Mayli Rooms
Alesia Hotel
Toi Shan Benevolent Society
Sunlight Hotel
Old Hotel Empress
Hotel Empress

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2008/01/14

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Phoenix Hotel on Vancouver's East Hastings Street is a masonry five-storey Edwardian commercial hotel.

Heritage Value

The value of the Phoenix Hotel lies in its position in the streetscape. Although the seven buildings on the north side of this block - all built between 1901 and 1913 - range in height from one to eight storeys, were designed by seven different architects, and constructed of different materials, they share several features. Together they illustrate the changing use of this area of East Hastings Street from residential to business use and place the district as a shopping and commercial centre for the emerging city of Vancouver in the early twentieth century. The architectural styles speak to the changing public taste from the ornate decoration of the late Victorian era to the more refined ornamentation of the Edwardian age.

Built in 1908 to plans by architect Henry B. Watson for V.W. Haywood, the building was named the Empress Hotel and also housed Empress Shaving. The use of the main floor for a barber shop continued until the 1930s. In 1912, this building was connected to the new building constructed next door to the west at 235 East Hastings Street. The new building assumed the name 'Hotel Empress', while this building became known as the 'Old Hotel Empress'. There were several changes of name during the 1940s to 1970s, when it became the Phoenix Hotel. It is currently the home of the Toi Shan Benevolent Society, providing apartments to members of the Chinese community. This speaks to the change in demographics in the area with a predominance of Oriental citizens; benevolent societies were traditionally organized to care for immigrants from a specific area of China.

There is also value in the architectural styling. The front facade bay windows are unusual in the area and are a reflection of the Italianate style which had been popular at the turn of the century. The building, at five storeys tall, creates a transition between the historic buildings on each side of it, one being eight storeys high and the other three storeys high, and illustrates the 'sawtooth' skyline effect so characteristic of the area.

Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Phoenix Hotel include:
- its rectangular form and massing, and commercial scale
- built right to the lot line with no setbacks
- its physical relationship with other buildings within the Hastings Street strip and adjoining neighbourhoods
- its physical and functional relationship with the Hotel Empress at 235 East Hastings Street
- characteristics of the Edwardian style, including the use of glazed brick on the front facade, pattern of fenestration including bay windows, overhanging sheet metal cornice with dentils, and cornice above storefront with dentils
- continued use as residential space



British Columbia

Recognition Authority

City of Vancouver

Recognition Statute

Vancouver Charter, s.582

Recognition Type

Community Heritage Register

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type


Social, Benevolent or Fraternal Club


Commerce / Commercial Services
Hotel, Motel or Inn

Architect / Designer

Henry B. Watson



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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