The Brandon Block, Round Two

November 1, 2011

As I’ve mentioned here before, the Brandon Block — that most elegant wide building on the west side of Commercial between First and Second — is damaged and it appears the owners are going through a serious rescue effort.  But this is not the first time the building has faced an issue.

Back in 1913, City Council decided to widen Commercial Drive south of First Avenue (you may have noticed that the north end of Commercial is more “intimate” than the south with two lanes less traffic).  To achieve the width they wanted, a number of pre-existing buildings had to be moved; in August 1913 it was the turn of the Brandon Block (as reported by the Vancouver World  on 15 August 1913):

“Complete success attended the moving back of the large two-storey brick building on Commercial Drive, between First and Second Avenues, which undertaking was carried out this morning in connection with the Commercial Drive widening scheme.

This was the first time that such a thing had been attempted locally and the task was watched by a large crowd of interested onlookers.  The structure contained three stores on the ground floor and seven suites of apartments on the upper floor.  Many of the latter were occupied during the time of the setting back of the building, but so gently was the work carried out that the movement  was all but imperceptible.

The building weighed, at a careful estimate, 550 tons, and the whole of it, from the very foundation, was set back seven feet.  During the operation, the water supply and the sewerage system was not interfered with for a moment, the occupants of the apartments being able to continue their domestic duties without let or hindrance.”

That would have been amazing to watch!