277-279 East 8th Street, North Vancouver
This two-storey building was formerly known as the Commercial Block, or simply “The Blue Building,” due to its bright turquoise colour. It was designed and built in 1912 by John Dierssen, a Prussian immigrant grocer, and is an example of a mixed-use building of the early 20th century.
It is known for its eclectic appearance with its flat roof, four turrets, and the decorative diamond shingles on the roof. In the early days, with its main-level retail and its 2nd floor residential apartments, it supported workers from the shipbuilding industry. It was still a corner store in the 1970’s, but eventually was vacated and fell into disrepair.
When it was purchased by Brad Hodson in 2011, it was an A-ranked building on the CNV Heritage Register, but it needed a lot of work, undoing “bad” renovations and generally upgrading the building. The new owner spent 20 months restoring the building with work that included:
Upgrading the plumbing and electrical
Installation of modern fire detection, soundproofing and insulation
Uncovering the building’s original pediment
Reconstructing the original transom windows above the storefront windows
Reclaiming the original fir floors from under the linoleum and replacing some sections with floors salvaged from an old home at the foot of Mountain Highway that was being demolished
Reconfiguring the front door to its original location on the corner
Restoring the paint colour to Strathcona Red and Oxford Ivory
In return for variances granted by the City of North Vancouver (relaxation of setback requirements and waiving the and onsite parking requirement), the owner had to legally protect the building so it is now a designated municipal heritage site. The building houses a couple of businesses, including Andrews on Eighth, a successful coffee shop that has become a favourite neighbourhood gathering spot.