Theo Gaerdes

LGN 1228 - [Power lines in front of the Grandview Sheet Metal Works building at 1685 Venables Street]. 1913? BCER.

LGN 1228 – [Power lines in front of the Grandview Sheet Metal Works building at 1685 Venables Street]. 1913? BCER.

The building above, which housed Grandview Sheet Metal Works at 1685 Venables Street, was (according to Vancouver Heritage building permit records) designed by a C. Smidt and built in 1912, by James Dryden for Theodore Geardes (who was also the proprietor of the sheet metal business). In addition to the commercial space on the main floor (1685), there was also an apartment (1683). (The Gaerdes block is adjacent to the building – to the right, above – known to Commercial Drive residents as the home of Uprising Breads Bakery (1697), which had been built a year earlier for J. F. Malkin, designed by Samuel B. Birds.) I wasn’t able to find any other record of a building designed by anyone called Smidt. There were a couple of projects designed by a C. and Carl Schmidt in the permit database; but there is no record of a Smidt or a Schmidt in the Biographical Dictionary of Canadian Architects.

VPL 11530. Grandview Sheet Metal Works, Ltd. at 1739 Venables St.  Demonstration of Smokeless Furnace. 1926. Frank Leonard photo

VPL 11530. Grandview Sheet Metal Works, Ltd. at 1739 Venables St. Demonstration of Smokeless Furnace. 1926. Frank Leonard photo

It isn’t clear to me how long Grandview Sheet Metal Works was located at 1685. By 1926, however, it seems to have moved up a block to 1739 Venables, where this VPL image was made. Who was Theo Gaerdes (beyond being a man possessed of no small ego; would a retiring fellow have had his name inscribed into the prominent upper part of his building?) He was the youngest of the five children of John H. and Katrina Gaerdes (one girl in the bunch). It seems that he was born in the U.S. (he was ethnically German) and lived there briefly, but most of his years were spent in Vancouver. He worked as an employee of early Vancouver tinsmith, James H. Hatch, and later partnered with William A. Hughes to form Gaerdes & Hughes (tinsmiths) before striking out on his own at age 26 to establish Grandview Sheet Metal Works. He married Marion May and they died almost exactly 2 months apart in 1973 (MMG, March 29; TG, May 28). As a side note, a couple of Gaerdes were associated with a building mentioned in an earlier VAIW post. John H. (TG’s dad) was proprietor of the Louvre Hotel (323 Carrall St) and TG’s brother, Herman, was manager of the Louvre Cafe (same address as Hotel). I haven’t been able to learn when 1685 Venables was demolished.

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