The Garage 12 Water Street, Vancouver V6B 1A4
The Nagle Brothers Garage is a two storey concrete structure in the historic district of Gastown. Now rehabilitated as commercial space, an inner courtyard has been opened up to accommodate new storefronts and allow light down to the ground floor. The front facade, with its Art Deco detailing, is intact.
Gastown is the historic core of Vancouver, and is the city's earliest, most historic area of commercial buildings and warehouses. This 1930 automobile garage is valued as an early automobile parking facility and service station. Built for Edgar G. Baynes (1870-1956), of the prominent contracting firm Baynes and Horie, and operated by the Nagle Brothers, its presence indicates the early twentieth century shift away from a reliance on the railway and towards automobile transportation. By the 1920s, the warehouses lining Water Street were beginning to use small trucks to deliver goods locally. The rise of the automobile and the use of trucks for moving goods in Vancouver created the need for facilities to service the vehicles.
The heritage value of the Nagle Brothers Garage is also linked to architects McCarter and Nairne. The partnership of John Young McCarter (1886-1981) and George Colvill Nairne (1884-1953) was one of the most prominent firms in the province, as they were just completing the landmark Marine Building when this garage was being designed. An unusually small commission for the firm, this garage represents their more modest work. The modest vernacular and simple materials illustrate the extent to which the collapse of the local economy during the Great Depression affected local building conditions.
The Nagle Brothers Garage is significant for its association with Gastown's provincial heritage designation in 1971, and the consequent area-wide street beautification. In 1972, the Garage became one of the first rehabilitation and adaptive re-use projects in the area when it was converted to retail and office space by architect H.T.D. Tanner. An inner courtyard was created, surrounded by balconies and trees, and this successful rehabilitation reflects the change in the economic nature of business activities in Gastown.
Source: City of Vancouver, Heritage Planning Street Files
The character-defining elements of the Nagle Brothers Garage include:
- form, scale and massing, exemplified in its rectangular plan, flat roof and two storey height
- siting on the property lines, with no setbacks; Trounce Alley located to the south side
- elements of the Art Deco style, such as the stepped-profile brackets at the corner of the ground floor openings and the decorative incised running chevron shadow line on the front facade
- multi-paned 8-over-12 wood-sash windows on the front facade; and banks of 12-paned wood-sash casements on the rear facade
- inset band of soldier course brick along front facade parapet
- large span ground floor openings facilitated by the concrete structure
- early board-formed reinforced concrete construction, used as both a structural and a cladding material