Abbott Place 233 Abbott Street, Vancouver V6B 2K7
The Central City Mission building is a six-storey plus lower level Edwardian era steel frame, brick clad block, with two later additional stories, located on the west side of Abbott Street, north of Cordova Street in the historic district of Gastown.
Gastown is the historic core of Vancouver, and is the city's earliest, most historic area of commercial buildings and warehouses. The area is recognized as the birthplace of Vancouver, and was pivotal in the first twenty-five years of the city's history and represents a formative period in Canada's economic development. The Central City Mission illustrates the changing labour and economic conditions in Gastown at the start of the twentieth century, as evidenced in rampant unemployment, labour unrest and violent anti-Asiatic riots against the increasing numbers of Chinese, Japanese, and East Indian migrants seeking work. In 1908, local citizens founded the Central City Mission, with the goal of providing food and lodging to local destitute men. It was incorporated in 1909 as an interdenominational mission, and in 1910 the Mission started construction on a two storey building on this site. During construction, its size tripled to six storeys, indicating the great need for such a facility in the area, as well as the deteriorating economic conditions, which exacerbated joblessness and homelessness. This building also illustrates the gulf between the rich and the poor in Vancouver at this time, as wealthy businessmen were building family mansions in Shaughnessy Heights, while the workingmen gravitated to Gastown, where they might find casual labour in the docks and warehouses, as well as help from the Mission. When it was built, it was the largest such facility west of Toronto.
It is also significant as an early surviving design by architect William Frederick Gardiner (1884-1951), who designed many institutional and commercial buildings during the course of his long and prolific local career. It was also an early project undertaken by Dominion Construction Ltd., which became one of the most prominent contracting firms in Vancouver's history.
Source: City of Vancouver, Heritage Planning Street Files
The character-defining elements of the Central City Misssion building include:
- location, in close proximity to the waterfront of Burrard Inlet and the Canadian Pacific Railway yard, with an alley to the north side and a small passageway to the south
- siting on the property lines, with no setbacks
- form, scale and massing as expressed by the rectangular plan, airshaft on west facade and flat roof
- masonry facade construction: tan Clayburn brick cladding on the front and alley facades with narrow mortar joints, rounded brick used on vertical front facade pilasters, concrete lintels and sills and common red brick wall on the south and west property lines
- granite block cornerstone inscribed 'CENTRAL CITY MISSION NOV. 9TH AD 1910'
- projecting sheet metal cornice on front facade
- regular fenestration grid on front facade
- steel internal structure and concrete floors