Description of Historic Place
The historic place at 43 Powell Street is a prominent, six-storey "flatiron" shaped, brick-faced hotel, located on a narrow triangular block at the heart of Vancouver's historic Gastown.
The Europe Hotel is the third and final phase of a commercial travellers hotel developed over twenty-two years, beginning in 1886, by prominent Canadian-Italian entrepreneur Angelo B. Calori. The development is of interest as the only significant business venture in Vancouver by an Italian immigrant prior to the Depression of 1930.
In 1908, Calori appointed Vancouver architects Parr and Fee, renowned for their utilitarian solutions, to design a new hotel on the narrow triangular lots adjacent to the existing Europe Hotel. Parr and Fee's design provided for a seven-storey (although only six were built) flatiron-shaped building, with fine architectural detail in the public spaces and modest comforts in the rooms. Parr and Fee's creation, considered to be the high point of their career, is an architectural tour de force, and remains a landmark building in Vancouver to this day. The surviving public spaces are amongst the most important such interiors in Vancouver.
The new hotel, which retained the adjacent original hotel as an annex, was built in 1908-9 by Hemphill Brothers of Vancouver. Clearly modelled after the Flatiron Building designed by the architect Daniel Burnham in New York City in 1902, the edifice is also reminiscent of European buildings in Paris and Milan, where radial city planning made such curious-shaped city blocks commonplace. The structural frame was designed and erected by the Ferro-Concrete Construction Company of Cincinnatti, Ohio, pioneers of the use of steel reinforcement in concrete, who six years earlier had built the first tall concrete building in the world, the 16-storey Ingalls Building in Cincinnatti. The hotel is a good example of the pioneering use of innovative building technology. The concrete frame, the first of its kind in Vancouver, purportedly made this the earliest fireproof hotel in western Canada.
The hotel's location was influenced by the success of his first hotel venture on the neighbouring lots to the east, which had benefited from the proximity of the steamship docks at the foot of Columbia Street, from where passengers were brought by a dedicated bus service. Such innovations and the decision to provide affordable modest rooms that would suit the pocket of the business traveller reflect Calori's business acumen and the commercial importance of this part of Vancouver. The hotel housed one of the city's finest bars and much of the business of the commercial district was conducted here. This importance is reflected in the appointment of experienced North Vancouver-based architects Joseph F.Watson and Henry Blackadder in 1939 to refit the beer parlour.
The significance of the former hotel is consolidated by its survival in virtually its original form and its proximity to the original Europe Hotel, one of Vancouver's oldest surviving buildings. The present day use of the hotel and its annex, sympathetically restored and converted to affordable housing by architects Adolph Ingre and Associates in 1983, reflects the changing fortunes of the Gastown neighbourhood, including the demise of the steamship service, the employment crisis that emerged as the commercial district declined, and the City of Vancouver's initiative to recast the area as a heritage tourism destination. The building has been used by Vancouver's film industry in the movies 'Legends of the Fall' and 'Never Ending Story'.
Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program
The character-defining elements of the Europe Hotel include its:
- Location close to the historic waterfront of Vancouver's Gastown district
- Location on a narrow triangular section of a block
- Form and massing
- Sweeping massive sheet-metal cornice
- Plain brick walls pierced with ranks of window openings
- Tall ground-floor storey with features including granite columns, anthemion-decorated capitals and sills, sheet metal cornice and corbelled porches
- Fenestration, including wood double-hung sash windows on upper storeys, mullions, transoms and frames and crystal-cut leaded-glass lights on ground floor
- Mosaic panels
- Lobby interior, including faience, decorative ceramic tile, marble, mosaic and brass features