550 Beatty 550 Beatty Street, Vancouver V6B 2L3
The historic place, built around 1906, is a rehabilitated, 5-storey, 6-bay-wide commercial structure located mid-block on Beatty Street in the Victory Square area of Vancouver's eastern downtown district. The building and its neighbours along the east side of Beatty Street are set at the edge of an escarpment, resulting in this building having a further two floors below the Beatty Street level, facing the lane and what was once a railway spur line.
The heritage value is found in its representative nature of the growing storage and transfer business in Vancouver during the early twentieth century, and of the big business aspect of it, including the influence of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) Company. Heritage value is found as well in the historical associations, particularly with the CPR, and the architecture.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, Vancouver was growing in commercial importance and the demand for transfer and storage services increased. The CPR was poised to benefit as a developer of the land. Mainland Transfer Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of the CPR, retained this lot and built the historic place around 1906. It subsequently created a subsidiary of its own, called Vancouver Warehouses Ltd., which bought the warehouse in 1914, keeping it for 15 years. This smaller company also specialized in transfer and storage. It leased some space (notably to Simonds Canada Saw Co. Ltd.) and used some itself.
The building has heritage value for representing the importance of transportation and transfer services in Vancouver during the pre-First-World-War boom. The city was the terminus for the CPR and about to become the same for the Canadian Northern and Great Northern Railways, all of which linked the city to points east and south. Extensive shipping ties also linked Vancouver to other port cities in America and Asia. Merchants were the largest single group of business leaders during this time, with many of them active in the wholesale trade. These top business leaders, such as Mainland Transfer's Frank D. Gross and Willie Dalton, were typically second-generation Vancouverites who were well established by 1900.
The success of Mainland Transfer's Vancouver Warehouse building is illustrated by its expansion in 1928, when two storeys were added to the original three. The new floors were used for offices and were improved a number of times during the 1940s and 1950s. After 1930, the building was subdivided and used by a variety of occupants - initially businesses and, since 1981, as strata-titled residences. The building was extensively rehabilitated in the residential conversion.
Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program
The character-defining elements of the building include:
- The prominent location within an important streetscape of similar masonry-clad warehouse structures
- The 5-storey brick facade at the property line on Beatty Street and the 7-storey elevation on the lower lane to the east
- The hard red pressed brick on the front elevation
- The arched windows on the 3rd floor
- The brick detail, including the soldier and header courses at the upper floor level
- The straightforward massing with no setbacks
- The rear loading bay