14. Letter from Kirk Gable - Demolition of the Prince George Hotel

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14. Letter from Kirk Gable - Demolition of the Prince George Hotel
----- Original Message -----
From: KIRK GABLE
*
Date: Tuesday, August 2, 2011 11:22 pm
Subject: Prince George Hotel Demolition
To: [email protected],[email protected],[email protected], [email protected]
August 2, 2011
Mayor and Council
City of Prince George
1100 Patricia Boulevard
Prince George, BC
V2L 3V9
Re: Demolition of the Prince George Hotel
I am writing to ask that the City of Prince George reconsider the demolition of the Prince George
Hotel.
I am suggesting that the City of Prince George reconsider the decision to demolish the hotel and
explore potential future uses for this historic downtown icon.
Attached is my letter to Council outlining my reasons for this request as well as a power point
presentation showcasing the history of early downtown Prince George and the role that the
Prince George Hotel played in our early development.
Thank you for your consideration.
Kirk Gable
*
August 2, 2011
Mayor and Council
City of Prince George
1100 Patricia Boulevard
Prince George, BC
V2L 3V9
Re: Demolition of the Prince George Hotel
I am writing to ask that the City of Prince George reconsider the demolition of the Prince
George Hotel.
Prince George Hotel c1917
I am suggesting that the City of Prince George reconsider the decision to demolish the hotel
and explore potential future uses for this historic downtown icon.
The Prince George Hotel is a very significant commercial wood heritage building, it is in fact
the oldest building in downtown Prince George (built in 1914) and for many years was "the
premier hotel" in the city. I understand that because of the activities associated with the hotel
in the last few decades, and it's current exterior facade, many people may not recognize the
significant role that the hotel has played in our city's history, however, it clearly represents the
"wood technology" of early 20th century rural British Columbia and should be preserved and
celebrated as such.
Old buildings preserve our culture by paying tribute to the people and events that built our
community. They are an invaluable tourist attraction and add character, dignity, reality and
charm in a way that modern architecture cannot replicate. They provide us with a glimpse of
the past and a connection to the spirit that made our community what it is today.
In March of 1914, George Street was a track in the snow across the newly cleared Prince
George townsite. By the end of that year it was the business centre of a thriving new town of
1500 with stores, banks, businesses, houses, theatres, churches and hotels, including the three
storey “King George Hotel”, built by E.E. Phair. In just over four months more than $500,000
had been spent on new buildings.
When the new town adopted the name “Prince George” in early 1915, the King George Hotel
followed suit. Mr. Phair's success with the hotel was short lived, however, and he promptly
abandoned his business when the government introduced prohibition in 1916. The Prince
George Hotel was refurbished and reopened in 1919 by J.H. Johnson, who was the owner at
that time of the Alexandra Hotel at 3rd and Brunswick, as well as the former owner of the Fort
George Hotel in Central Fort George which had burned in 1914.
The new Prince George Hotel was furnished with modern plumbing and heating equipment,
making it one of the city's premier hospitality establishments. The recruitment of Charles
Johnson, a renowned Vancouver hotelier, to assist with operations in 1920 marks another
indication of the excellence fostered by the new owner. Clearly J.H. Johnson had established a
facility that was on par with the province's best hotels.
J. H. Johnson, owner Prince George Hotel 1919 – 1933
Mayor, City of Prince George 1922 - 1923
When he left in 1933 to manage a hotel in San Francisco, J.H. Johnson left a distinctive legacy
as one of Prince George's most renowned property owners and businessmen. He invested
heavily in the new town and was at one time it's single largest property holder. In addition to
being the city's most prominent hotelier, he was also Mayor of Prince George from 1922 to
1923, and an active member of the school board, the agricultural board and President of the
Board of Trade (1917, 1921). He was later described by citizens as one of the region's
foremost advocates and a tireless Prince George booster. Following the end of his career in
San Francisco, Johnson retired to Palo Alto and died there at the age of 75 in 1948.
After Johnson's departure in 1933, the hotel continued to operate in a similar fashion until
1941, when a new café was opened in the building. The proprietor, John Stott, renovated the
dining hall and began advertising the hotel as the city's premier location for private dining.
In addition to it's historical value, there are a number of other good reasons why this building
should not be demolished:
Carbon Footprint and Sustainability - Heritage conservation ensures that our
irreplaceable historic buildings will be enjoyed by future generations, and planning
for future generations is what sustainability is all about. There is ample evidence
that conservation of old buildings is a much "greener" course of action than
demolition and reconstruction. The National Trust for Heritage Preservation
estimates that demolition and reconstruction of buildings consumes more than three
times the energy required to retrofit an existing building and that it takes about 65
years for an energy efficient new building to save the amount of energy lost in
demolishing an existing building. They also estimate that building a new 15,240 sq.
meter commercial building requires the same amount of energy required to drive a
car 32,186 km per year for 730 years. In addition, conservation saves tons of debris
from the landfill making it the ultimate form of recycling.
• Economics - according to the UBC Office of Sustainability, their UBC Renew Program
has saved the taxpayers of BC approximately $88 million since 2004 by retrofitting ten
campus buildings rather than demolishing and rebuilding them. The buildings, dating
from 1923 - 1961 were completely refurbished to minimum Silver LEED standard (the
latest one, the Friedman Building achieved a Gold LEED designation) with an average
cost saving of 43% on each project. In addition to being much less expensive,
rehabilitation projects tend to be more labor intensive and create more local jobs than
new construction projects.
• Wood First - I can think of no better example for Prince George to demonstrate respect
for, and celebrate the long term sustainable value of wood structures, than to restore a
structurally sound, 100 year old commercial wood building. In fact the Prince George
Hotel was and is "Wood First". By demolishing it we cast doubt on our assertion that
commercial wood construction is a long term sustainable solution.
•
• Downtown - the shape and character of Downtown Prince George has been a passion of
mine for many years, and I'm concerned that one of the shortcomings of Downtown
Prince George is the lack of heritage buildings. It's not that there were none, it's just that
we seem to have little or no respect for old buildings, or perhaps the "common wisdom"
has been to cover old wooden buildings with aluminum siding or tear them down so we
can replace them with something shiny and modern. In the process we lose something
invaluable to a city core - a glimpse of history that tells the story of our beginnings. I
think our city's history is fascinating and the Prince George Hotel has been a significant
part of that history for almost 100 years. Whenever I travel, the first place I like to go is
to the "old city" which is always in the central core.
• Historic buildings and streets create a charming connection to the past that cannot be
replicated by the suburban box stores and by preserving our heritage we'll provide
downtown Prince George as well as "Historic George Street" with a competitive
advantage over newer areas of the city..
I have attached a copy of a powerpoint presentation representing a history of the Prince George
Hotel, George Street, Third Avenue and other downtown scenes.
I look forward to the opportunity to discuss this important issue with staff and council at your
earliest convenience.
Sincerely,
Kirk Gable
Prince George Hotel
Historic Preservation or Demolition?
Birth of a City
King George Hotel 1914
Carbon Footprint
Economics
Wood First
Historic George Street
Downtown Shape and Character
Plan 1268 – September 1913
The Birth of a City
June 1914
Spring 1915
➲KING
GEORGE HOTEL
1914
Prince George Hotel c1917
Prince George Hotel c1930
Prince George Hotel c1949
Prince George Hotel c1949
Prince George Hotel Banquet Room c1949
Prince George Hotel Reception c1949
Prince George Hotel Cafe c1953
Prince George Hotel Lobby c1953
Prince George Hotel CP Air Kiosk c1955
Prince George Hotel c1958
Prince George Hotel c1962
Prince George Hotel c1971
Prince George Hotel c1978
➲OUR
CARBON FOOTPRINT
THE GREENEST BUILDINGS
➲
....are the ones that already exist!
➲
Demolition and new construction consumes about 3 times the energy
required to retrofit an old building
Demolishing a 2000 square foot house sends 60 tons of material to the
landfill
..”it takes about 65 years for an energy efficient new building to save
the amount of energy lost in demolishing an existing building “–
National Trust for Historic Preservation
➲
➲
“Reusing existing buildings is a significant
way to practice the three “R”s on a much
bigger scale, and new life for old buildings
helps to reduce urban sprawl, conserve
energy, stimulate investment and promote
sustainable communities”
British Columbia Heritage Branch
➲
Restoration and Preservation is a great way to reduce our carbon
footprint while protecting heritage values.
➲
➲
$$ THE ECONOMIC ARGUMENT $$
Restoration projects are labour intensive and create more local jobs
whereas new construction consumes many times more greenhouse
gases in the manufacture, transportation and assembly of new materials
that are often imported from elsewhere.
UBC Renew Project
Since 2004 10 campus buildings dating from
1923 to 1961 were rebuilt to a minimum Silver
Leed standard (the Friedman Building
achieved Gold Leed) at an average cost saving
of 43%.
UBC Renew Project has saved BC taxpayers $88
million in capital construction costs since 2004.
- UBC Office of Sustainability
WOOD FIRST?
➲ “There's
more than just a little irony
in the idea, that as we prepare to
demonstrate to the rest of the world
how to build commercial buildings
with wood, that our first order of
business would be to demolish a 100
year old wood building.”
Historic George Street
George Street c1919
3rd Ave. at George Street c1919
George Street c1921
George Street c1928
City Hall c1915
City Hall 1940s
City Hall October 27, 1966
➲DOWNTOWN
➲Shape
and Character
Bank of Montreal 3rd & Quebec c1917
Bank of Montreal 3rd & Quebec July 18, 1951
Bank of Montreal 3rd & Quebec c1952
255 Quebec 2009
Fire Hall George St. c1919
Fire Hall George St. 1950s
Royal Alexandra Hotel 3rd Ave 1915
Provincial Govt. Building 3rd Ave 1930s
Provincial Govt. Building 3rd Ave 1955
July 14, 1959
Third Avenue Parade
c1951
Third Avenue & George St. c1950
Plaza Heritage Hotel - Kamloops
Hume Hotel - Nelson
Hume Hotel Nelson c1970
Hume Hotel Nelson c1898
1157 Fifth Avenue October 1997
1157 Fifth Avenue April 1998
Historic George Street?
Heritage Conservation District Plan
St. Mary's Ontario 2009
George Street c1919

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