We are very fortunate to have found this amazing space located in a series of three buildings who’s adjoining walls were removed to make one large building. The main building The Runkle Block aka: The Cosmopolitan Hotel. The Cook Block is attached to the west side of the Runkle Block on E. Cordova. The last building we’re still researching.
The buildings were built between 1892 and 1915 during the height of Gastown’s importance as a centre of commerce in Vancouver.
Description of Historic Place
The Runkle Block is a four storey Edwardian era building located at the northwest corner of Abbott and West Cordova Streets in the historic district of Gastown. The building is faced in brick with precast concrete trim.
Gastown is the historic core of Vancouver, and is the city’s earliest, most historic area of commercial buildings and warehouses. The Runkle Block is representative of the importance of Gastown as the trans-shipment point between the terminus of the railway and Pacific shipping routes, and the consequent expansion of Vancouver into western Canada’s predominant commercial centre in the early twentieth century. The Runkle Block illustrates the expansion of Gastown’s economic activities beyond warehousing and hotel accommodation into general commerce. The upper floors have also served at various times as hotel accommodation and lodging rooms, indicating the flexibility of use that was determined by changing economic conditions.
This building is also significant as an early design in Vancouver by architects Sharp and Thompson, who had established their Vancouver practice in 1908. Both trained in London, England, G.L.T. Sharp (1880-1974) and C.J. Thompson (1878-1961) were among the few in Vancouver at the time with architectural credentials. A year after this commission, they won the open competition to design the new University of British Columbia. The Runkle Block is a fine example of their commercial design work, with sophisticated ornamentation; the decorative cartouches on the main facades include the initials of the original owner, J.C. Runkle.
Source: City of Vancouver, Heritage Planning Street Files
The character-defining elements of the Runkle Block include:
- corner location with two main facades
- siting on the property lines, with no setbacks at front or sides; small passageway at north side
- boxy form, scale and symmetrical massing as expressed by the four storey height, flat roof and square floor plan
- wider centre bays on each of the two main facades, with stepped parapets above
- masonry construction, including yellow brick main facades, precast concrete detailing including decorative cartouches, sills and lintels; and common red brick on north facade
- fenestration, such as: rectangular storefront openings; side centre-pivot wood-sash windows on the second floor with double transoms; double-assembly wood-sash casement windows with transoms on the third and fourth floors; and double-hung 1-over-1 wood-sash windows on the north facade
- side entry to the upper floors, with granite steps and inset black and white mosaic tile
- original interior features such as plaster walls and wooden trim
The Cook Block is a four storey plus lower level brick building built in two parts and added to over time, with two adjacent but complementary front facades which face West Cordova Street. Its architecture is an eclectic mix of Italianate, Romanesque and Edwardian elements. It is located near the intersection of Abbott and West Cordova Streets in the historic district of Gastown.
Gastown is the historic core of Vancouver, and is the city’s earliest, most historic area of commercial buildings and warehouses. The Cook Block is representative of the importance of Gastown as the trans-shipment point between the terminus of the railway and Pacific shipping routes, and the consequent expansion of Vancouver into western Canada’s predominant commercial centre in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Cook Block illustrates the expansion of Gastown’s economic activities, beyond warehousing and hotel accommodation, into general commerce. The building’s street elevation, which represents its identity as two separate buildings, is a clear indication that commerce was prospering and expanding during the late nineteenth century, necessitating building expansion at a rapid rate.
The Cook Block is an important reminder of Gastown’s role, prior to the First World War, as a commercial centre for Vancouver. With the economic boost that came with the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway, Gastown evolved from an area of docks and transport-related activities into an active commercial district with shops, offices, and restaurants. The elegant Savoy Restaurant, Vancouver’s first excursion into gourmet dining, was located in the Cook Block. These commercial enterprises faced competition from the developing new commercial core at the junction of Granville and Georgia Streets, but such was the significance of Gastown’s commerce that they survived until the collapse of the city’s economic boom in 1913. This building is important as a demonstration of the type of commercial activity that once existed along West Cordova Street; it is one of few survivors of a sequence of buildings of similar form and massing, housing a wide variety of business activities such as shops, offices, restaurants, theatres, hairdressers, and tailors that once lined Cordova Street.
It is also significant for its direct connection to Edward Cook, pioneer Vancouver contractor, land-owner and developer, who was involved in many projects that helped shape the character of Gastown.
Source: City of Vancouver, Heritage Planning Street Files
The character-defining elements of the Cook Block include:
- location, in close proximity to the waterfront of Burrard Inlet and the Canadian Pacific Railway yard, with a small passageway to the north side
- siting on the front and side property lines, with no setbacks
- form, scale and massing as expressed by its four storey plus lower level height and flat roof
- consistent architectural details as corbelled brick at the cornice and rough-dressed sandstone columns at the ground floor
- double-hung wood-sash windows on the front facade, most with multi-paned upper sashes
- masonry construction: facade construction of red brick; side and rear facades of common red brick; sandstone trim; and stone foundations
- eastern facade detailing such as rough-dressed sandstone lintels and sills, double-hung windows with original sashes and red brick facade
- western facade detailing such as bay windows on second and third storeys, heavy bracketed cornice between third and upper floor windows, rough-dressed sandstone stringcourses between all storeys and an ogee stone bay window support
- intact early storefront on eastern half, including marble bulkheads, blue and white mosaic tile inset, copper storefront sections and oak door
- surviving interior features such as wooden floors and original room layouts