The History of The Patricia Hotel Vancouver
On the corner of East Hastings and Dunlevy Street sits one of Vancouver’s hidden treasures. The Patricia Hotel’s foundation has resided here on the edge of Vancouver’s downtown core since 1910 and has a rich history.
Originally designed as a doctor’s office, construction began in 1910, but the owner passed away before construction was completed – as did his original intentions for the building. Soon after, Edward P. Mulhern purchased the building and converted it into the Patricia Hotel. At the time of conversion the hotel harboured 180 rooms on five floors, with a communal bathroom on each floor.
According to newspaper ads from the time, rooms at the Patricia Hotel started at $1.00 per day. What a bargain, especially for being at the centre of the city, just two blocks from Vancouver’s City Hall (which was in the old Marlet Building immediately south of Carnegie Library at Main and Hastings)!
Much of hotel’s history spawns from its pub. Although currently known as Pat’s Pub & BrewHouse, it was originally known as The Patricia Pool Room with it’s own address of 405 E. Hastings, but was later to be renamed, The Patricia Café. Run by Will Bowman, the Patricia Café was one of Vancouver’s jazz hotspots at the time. In fact, some of the musicians who played at the Patricia Café were highly influential in the transition between ragtime and jazz piano styles.
Most notable was likely Ferdinand “Jelly Roll” Morton who made Vancouver his home between 1919 and 1921. During this time “Jelly Roll” Morton performed in the Patricia Café as well as roomed upstairs in the Patricia Hotel. To this day the Pub’s original wood floor and exposed brick walls serve as a reminder of its history and the baby grand piano continues to play at the hands of many exceptional musicians who come to be inspired.
Other notable musicians and entertainers who performed in The Patricia Café include Aruthur Daniels, Oscar Holden, Chicago-based musician Ada “Bricktop” Smith, Leo Bailey, Ralph Love, Billy Hoy, and Lillian Rose.
Beneath the main floor of The Patricia Hotel exists an expansive basement, rich with its own history. In addition to housing a boxing ring that played host to many big ticket matches right up until the 1950’s, the basement’s showers and change rooms were used by both soccer and baseball teams who played in nearby Oppenheimer Park and migrant workers who worked the night shift in Japantown and Chinatown.
The Patricia Hotel has had several owners over the years. The original owners; the Mulherns owned and operated it up until 1958. The current owner took over in 1984, closing it shortly after for extensive renovations that eliminated the male and female communal shower rooms on each floor and fitted each room with a private washroom. As such, many of the hotel’s smaller rooms have maintained the historic style of having a vanity separate from the shower facilities. The owner also maintained the historic style in the common areas of the hotel including the high-ceilinged lobby, the lobby’s lacquered wood steps and the detail in the wood runners of the upstairs hallways.
For historical information about Patricia Hotel’s neighbourhood (Strathcona), check out local historian James Johnstone’s blog or participate in one of his 2 hour History Walks that take place every Saturday throughout the Summer.