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pacific hotel

Pacific Hotel
corner of Main St
and East Georgia
Vancouver BC

The neon sign was
removed in 2005

Pacific Hotel


208 East Georgia Street, Vancouver, British Columbia

Other Name:

London Hotel


Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The historic place consists of a plain three to four-storey brick hotel and pub located at the 208 East Georgia Street, on the fringe of Vancouver's historic Chinatown. Formerly known as the London Hotel, the facility is currently called the Pacific Hotel. A pub on the ground-floor level is entered through double doors set in the canted corner.

Heritage Value

Constructed in two stages between 1903 and 1910, during Vancouver's pre-World War I building boom, the London Hotel's heritage significance is derived from the representative character of both its use and its architecture.

The historic place consists of two parts: a three-storey section, likely built in 1903, occupying the corner, with eight closely-spaced windows facing Main Street and seven more widely-spaced windows on East Georgia Street (as well as the canted corner); and a four-storey section, built in 1910, with four windows facing East Georgia Street. A bar and restaurant were located on the ground floor and the upper floors of both sections were used for residential accommodation. Daniel McPhalen, who owned the building, acted as his own contractor. McPhalen, who arrived in the City in 1886, had a long history as a contractor in Vancouver.

The building demonstrates a pattern of use that was common in this part of downtown Vancouver, where the service, retail, and residential industries were geared to serving the itinerant population of male resource workers. Especially in the winter, when the logging camps were shut down, men lounged on the street and passed their time in the bars. The restaurant and bar in the building likely catered to men recently returned from the bush, which would have been particularly convenient with the subsequent opening of the nearby Canadian Northern Railway station (1917-19). This contributes to our understanding of working-class male history in Vancouver.

Of particular interest here is the endurance of the facade of the bar, modified at ground level, with its blanked out windows and solid doors. From the 1920s to the 1970s, provincial laws carefully regulated the consumption of beer and liquor. This reflected social attitudes which abhorred drunkenness and condemned the social ills, such as prostitution and gambling, perceived to be associated with alcohol. Social reformers preferred total prohibition, but when this failed, they demanded that drinking establishments be hidden from public view, that no food or entertainment be povided to entice men to drink more, and that nothing harder than beer be served. In Vancouver, men and women were segregated, with a separate area set aside for 'ladies and escorts.' A 'ladies beer parlour' was constructed at the London Hotel in 1931. The two entrances remain, one at the corner and one along Main Street.

Architecturally, the building has value for demonstrating the progress of commercial architectural design in Vancouver, marking the transition from the segmental-headed windows popular around 1900 (and seen in the corner portion) to the flat lintels introduced by 1910 (and seen in the four-storey portion and also on the southern portion of the Main Street elevation). The more elaborate articulation of the windows at the corner emphasizes the entrance. For many years, there was a vertical sign suspended above this corner entry. A classical dentilled cornice unites the composition. The external fire escapes and internal light wells are typical of hotels built at this time in Vancouver. The historic place contributes to the continuity of the streetscape, as it is part of a series of similarly scaled buildings.

Source: City of Vancouver Heritage Conservation Program

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the London Hotel include:
- Location, at the edge of Chinatown, near the train station
- Location at a corner, with the principal entrance set into a canted corner bay
- Scale of the building, which is compatible with its neighbours
- Articulation of window openings, including spacing, variations in head detail and emphasis with raised or inset brick panels and stone sills
- The classical cornice with dentils
- The alterations to the ground floor, which although unattractive, with its small tinted windows and solid doors, is representative of the Vancouver 'beer parlour'
- Window and door joinery, including the double-hung sash, panelled doors, vestiges of the original pub shopfront, and awning boxes
- The ongoing use as a hotel, including upper floors for single-room-occupancy accommodation and the ground floor bar
- Elements that reveal the residential use, such as the external fire escapes and internal light wells



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