Louvre Hotel

"People in the Downtown East Side have known Gospel Mission as a 'place that matters' since the 1940s and that makes for an interesting back-story. We have outlasted every other tenant in the immediate area, including some that have been boarded up and one where the entire back wall literally collapsed one night." -Drew Snider, Gospel Mission

Plaque

Built in 1889, the building took the Louvre name in 1897 with its manager promoting the only circular bar in the province and suggested customers “call in and lubricate.” Today, the same building encourages and sustains locals in a different way. Gospel Mission - founded in 1929 - has occupied the former Louvre Hotel since the 1940s.

History

First Tenants
The small unassuming building at 325 Carrall was built in 1889, three years after the Great Fire and two years after the arrival of the CPR. Its first tenants at street level were the Vancouver Drug Company and the Vancouver Tea and Coffee Company, managed by W.A. Cumyow. Won Alexander Cumyow was the first person of Chinese descent born in present-day Canada (in 1861) and an important leader in early Chinatown. He worked in a variety of businesses including real estate and retail and became a court interpreter for the Vancouver Police.

Louvre Saloon
After less than a year in operation, Vancouver Tea & Coffee Co. was replaced by a succession of businesses, including the Brown Jug Saloon in 1896 that was renamed the Louvre Saloon in 1897 when Reinhold Minaty moved over from the Old Fountain Saloon on Cordova Street. Minaty advertised the Louvre as having the only circular bar in the province and suggested customers “call in and lubricate”. The rooms above the store fronts appear to have operated as a rooming house until 1898, when they are listed as the Louvre Hotel. This type of hotel was in high demand, providing inexpensive accommodation for workers, travelers and businessmen in what was then the commercial hub of Vancouver. Fire insurance maps of the period show the hotel had six fireplaces when it was built. On the ground floor a variety of businesses including cafes, confectionary stores, barber shops and tailors come and went over the years.

Ghost Sign
The wall in the lane (once known as Louvre Alley) still features painted signs for the saloon (believed to be the oldest ghost sign in Vancouver) advertising clean beds for 20 cents a night at the Boston Rooms a few doors down the lane.

Bijou Theatre
In 1908, the Bijou Theatre opened next door to the Louvre, and was one of the first purpose-built moving picture houses in the city. The theatre was popular enough that in 1913 it was expanded by cutting off a section of the Louvre Hotel. Lani Russwurm writes that in 1917, the city license inspector tried to refuse granting a business licence to WP Nichols on the grounds that he was an Austrian and therefore an enemy alien. “The theatre survived that hurdle, but not the one that came the following year,” he writes. “To mitigate the Spanish Flu epidemic that was ravaging Vancouver in 1918, large gatherings were temporarily banned, including theatres. The Bijou didn’t survive the closure and the Merchants Bank (located next door in Pigeon Park) took it over.”

Gospel Mission
Various businesses, including a barber shop, shoemaker, café, and shooting gallery, operated in the theatre space until it was wholly or partially demolished around 1940. This demolition also included a section of the Louvre Hotel that faced onto the CPR right-of-way at Carrall. The Gospel Mission (not to be confused with Union Gospel Mission) which had been in operation since 1929, moved into the building in 1940. It serves residents of the Downtown Eastside by operating the “Lord’s Rain” shower facility, and through providing meals and spiritual guidance at the Carrall Street Church. Wings Cafe operates at street level.

Sources / Read More

Nearby Places That Matter

  • Save on Meats
  • Old Georgia St. Viaduct
  • Army and Navy Dept. Store

Media & Photos

Address

333 Carrall St.

Coordinates

49.28194274617022, -123.1045082969589

Please Share Your Places That Matter Stories With Us.

Why does this place matter to you? We want to hear all about it. Share your connection to one, two or more of our Places That Matter. If you've visited a site, or have old photos of it, please send it to us!

Submit a story to add to the project or send us a question or comment. We'll be in touch about adding your story to the webpage. Thank you!