375 Main Street, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6A, Canada
G.W. Dawson Building
Links and documents
1911/01/01 to 1912/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Dawson Building is an eight-storey structure on the northwest corner of Main and Hastings Streets in Vancouver.
The heritage value of the Dawson Building lies in the historic relationship between this area and the economy of early Vancouver. At the turn of the twentieth century, this area of town was developed as a shopping area as commercial activity spread outward from its early roots in Gastown. As the young city grew, so did its commercial district. While the retail district was expanding along Granville Street, the east end of Hastings Street was the home of a second retail and commercial strip. It was the home of several hotels, lodgings, office buildings, and small retail outlets which were established to serve the growing blue-collar population.
Designed and built in 1911-1912 by architect Bedford Davidson for George W. Dawson (a partner in Dawson and Buttimer, canners agents), the Dawson Building is a large example of Chicago-style commercial development of the early twentieth century. The gridded facade with two light wells on the Hastings Street facade to allow light into the interior offices, presents an imposing presence in this area of early commercial development. From its early days, the storefronts have been occupied by druggists, food outlets and clothing merchandisers, while the offices above have been the home of professionals including dentists, doctors, and barristers, as well as contractors and real estate agents. The east Vancouver outlet of the Owl Drug Company was housed at the 199 East Hastings Street storefront from 1912 until very recently.
In the 1930s, the professional offices were largely occupied by Japanese dentists and doctors who served the growing Japanese population in this area. In recent years, the upper storeys housed Chinese professionals - barristers, doctors dentists, and social activists, including lawyer Philip Rankin, the Native Brotherhood of BC, and the Communist Party of Canada. The evolution of the Dawson Building mirrors the ethnic content and economic changes in this neighbourhood of Vancouver.
In 1984, the building was converted to housing with 69 studio suites and six one-bedroom suites, developed by Adolf Ingre and Associates. The building continues to provide social housing for local residents.
Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program
The heritage character of the Dawson Building is found in the following elements:
- a complex of tall rectangular masses on a podium level
- its functional relationship with other buildings within the Hastings Street strip and adjoining neighbourhoods
- corner location
- built right to the lot line with no set backs
- ground floor retail presence
- characteristics of the Edwardian commercial style including: light wells with sandstone balustrades, pattern of fenestration, grid-like facade, overhanging cornice with dentils, and corbelling over the window openings
City of Vancouver
Vancouver Charter, s.582
Community Heritage Register
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Trade and Commerce
Function - Category and Type
- Multiple Dwelling
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Office or Office Building
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program
Cross-Reference to Collection