Caretaker’s Cottage

CVA LGN 1239 - View of Burrard St Near Nelson Street (and First Baptist Church), BC Electric photo, 1914. (Zoomed inset in top right corner shows Caretaker's Cottage).

CVA LGN 1239 – View of Burrard St Near Nelson Street (and First Baptist Church), BC Electric photo, 1914. (Zoomed inset in top right corner shows Caretaker’s Cottage).

This unusual 1914 image was probably not made to show off the recently completed First Baptist Church (1910, Burke, Horwood, and White architects, of Toronto, who also designed Mt Pleasant Baptist Church a year earlier), but instead to show the power poles in the foreground. It is an interesting one for a few reasons.

First, it was taken more or less where the Del Grauer Substation and the HQ of BC Hydro (the successor of BC Electric) and now the Electra condo building are today. Second, the corner opposite First Baptist, where St Andrew’s-Wesley United Church would be built (construction 1927-33), is occupied by then-standard West End dwellings.

Finally, this unglamorous angle on FBC affords us a rare peek into the back alley where one can just glimpse the Caretaker’s Cottage (see inset), which stood on the property (just past the main part of FBC’s structure, looking up the lane) until it was demolished in the 1950s. The Cottage structure was replaced in 1967 by the first phase of an FBC adult education wing. This phase consisted of “two suspended floors and a roof over the ministers’ parking area behind the church.” (Leslie J. Cummings, Our First Century 1887-1987. Updated edition, 2001. p. 64). The second phase of the adult ed wing (the fundraising campaign for which was known as ‘the Nehemiah Project’) was finished in 1989 with the filling in of the parking area (which ran parallel to Nelson street in the back lane) to make room for the Vancouver Christian Counselling Centre, Duncan Hall, and other rooms.

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