|The Ovaltine Cafe | 30 x 40 | Oil on panel | 2010|
The Ovaltine Cafe
251 E Hastings, It's like walking into a time machine. Not much has changed since it opened in 1942 and is often used as a set for TV and movie productions including 'Da Vinci's Inquest' starring Nicholas Campbell and 'I Robot' starring Will Smith.The top sign was installed in 1948 and the scripted lettering over the doorway was installed in 1943 by Wallace Neon.The Afton Hotel, a four-storey masonry commercial building designed in the Edwardian Italian Renaissance Revival style, is on East Hastings Street in Vancouver.
The Afton Hotel, a four-storey masonry commercial building designed in the Edwardian Italian Renaissance Revival style, is on East Hastings Street in Vancouver.
The value of the Afton Hotel lies in its position in the streetscape of this block of East Hastings Street. Although the seven buildings on the north side of this block - 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 1912 to a design by architect Arthur Julius Bird for owner R. B. Hamilton, the structure was designed as an apartment building. The symmetry and masonry construction exemplify the Edwardian styling, although the curved pediments at the top of two rows of windows are an unusual feature. It was altered in 1914 when it housed Burlington Tailors on the main floor with government offices, including Vancouver postal substation B on the street level, and a variety of Canadian government offices located on the upper floors. Since 1925, the upper floors have been used as a rooming house, and more recently as the Afton Hotel.
After 1917, the postal substation relocated and the ground floor was utilized by a series of retail outlets, tailor shops, and restaurants, including the Ovaltine Café in 1942. The exuberant Ovaltine Café neon signage with its distinctive arrow-shaped projecting sign, made by Wallace Neon in 1942, evokes the 1940s and 1950s, Vancouver’s 'golden age' of neon, when there was reportedly more neon in Vancouver than anywhere in the world, except for Shanghai, China. The interior of the café has survived intact, and includes a coffee counter, booths, mirrors and varnished woodwork.
Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program
|The Cecil Hotel | 30 x 45 | Oil on canvas | 2010|
Goodbye to great Vancouver nights at the Cecil Hotel
By Janet Mackie
I heard the other day that the Cecil Hotel is soon to be demolished and the news brought back memories. The Cecil Hotel was for many years in the 70’s a great place to be on a Friday night. The Cecil, at that time, did not look that much different from the Yale Hotel next door (which also had popular subterranean steambaths) or the Blackstone farther down the street or the Austin across the road, or, indeed, many other Vancouver hotel bars. But for a long time the customers on Friday nights were an interesting bunch of people.
Poets and writers and potters and artists and musicians and bar-room philosophers and existentialist cab-drivers and Malcolm Lowry fans and alcohol-impaired Ph.D.s and fine-arts majors turned carpenters would all congregate on Friday night and drink and talk until closing time and then often go around the corner to the old Arts Club on Seymour Street where you could drink and dance (maybe catch Doug and the Slugs Band) until early morning.
(excerpt of original article published May 28, 2008 by Janet Mackie in The Georgia Straight.)