Heritage Site Finder

Menu

Heritage Site Finder

An interactive map of buildings and sites on the Vancouver Heritage Register.

New World Hotel/Tamura Building

Address

300-396 POWELL St, Vancouver BC

Neighbourhood

North Strathcona

Type

Mixed Use

Significance

A

Description

This grand four-storey 1912-1914 commercial building was designed by architects Townsend & Townsend for Shinkichi Tamura, a Japanese merchant who served as Canada’s first Commissioner of Trade to Japan and who later returned to Japan to pursue a political career.

The building’s exterior exhibits unique and graceful sheet metal ornamentation cornices, corbels and Corinthian pilasters that were used on other Townsend & Townsend commissions in Vancouver such as on the Quebec and Shaughnessy Manors.
Although the owner was of Japanese origin, the name and design of this building reflect the community’s integration into the North American culture.

The New World Hotel was known as the ‘heart of Little Tokyo’ and was the most substantial rooming house in the neighbourhood. A variety of Canadian Japanese-owned businesses were run in the street level spaces over the years, including a newspaper office, drugstore, bakery, confectionery, toy store, dentist, tailor, salmon packing outfit, dressmaker and Tamura’s own Canada and Japan Trust Savings Bank.

The Tamura / New World Hotel is now provincially owned single room occupancy (SRO) social housing, and was fully restored and renovated in 2016 with provincial and federal funding. In addition to life safety and interior restoration work, the sheet metal cornice was repaired and restored, and the sheet metal pediments and urns were completely replicated from historic photos and restored in 2016.

This grand four-storey 1912-1914 commercial building was designed by architects Townsend & Townsend for Shinkichi Tamura, a Japanese merchant who served as Canada’s first Commissioner of Trade to Japan and who later returned to Japan to pursue a political career.

The building’s exterior exhibits unique and graceful sheet metal ornamentation cornices, corbels and Corinthian pilasters that were used on other Townsend & Townsend commissions in Vancouver such as on the Quebec and Shaughnessy Manors.
Although the owner was of Japanese origin, the name and design of this building reflect the community’s integration into the North American culture.

The New World Hotel was known as the ‘heart of Little Tokyo’ and was the most substantial rooming house in the neighbourhood. A variety of Canadian Japanese-owned businesses were run in the street level spaces over the years, including a newspaper office, drugstore, bakery, confectionery, toy store, dentist, tailor, salmon packing outfit, dressmaker and Tamura’s own Canada and Japan Trust Savings Bank.

In 2017, Tamura house was awarded a City of Vancouver Heritage Award of Honour, recognizes the meticulous restoration and replication of the extraordinary exterior metal work including columns, rooftop parapets, cornices, and other ornamentation, and the rehabilitated storefronts and facades on the prominently located Tamura House, 390 Powell Street, a significant cultural site in the original Japanese district.

Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Merrick Architecture.

Source

VHF's Historic Map Guide of Japantown, Heritage Inventory Summary Report Phase II 1986, Merrick Architecture, City of Vancouver Heritage Award Recipients