Back in the day: Victoria's Secret building was the Vancouver Public Library (PHOTOS)

Sep 29 2018, 3:08 am

Not too long ago, the building that currently houses the world’s second largest Victoria’s Secret store was the Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library for over four decades.

Formerly addressed as 750 Burrard Street, the building at 969 Robson Street – the northeast corner of the intersection of Burrard Street and Robson Street – in downtown was built by the City of Vancouver in the 1950s as the new home of the Central Branch of the library.

A four-storey library building design by Vancouver architects HN Semmens and DC Simpson opened on November 1, 1957, and it featured a modern, sleek-looking design enclosed by expansive glass curtain walls – a relatively unique element at the time.

May 1959

Vancouver Public Library 750 Burrard Street

The old Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library at 750 Burrard Street, Vancouver. (Vancouver Public Library Archives)

Today

969 Robson Street Vancouver Victoria's Secret

The old Vancouver Public Library building at 969 Robson Street, Vancouver. (Google Maps)

The first floor of the building had a main area with a two-storey atrium and a mezzanine overlooking the space below.

The new location near the edge of the West End provided close to six times the space as the old Carnegie Library location in the Downtown Eastside, which still operates as a local-serving library.

Vancouver Public Library 750 Burrard Street

The old Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library at 750 Burrard Street, Vancouver. (Vancouver Public Library Archives)

Vancouver Public Library 750 Burrard Street

The old Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library at 750 Burrard Street, Vancouver. (Vancouver Public Library Archives)

By the 1980s, it had become apparent that Vancouver needed a new main library building, and a referendum on such a project led to the construction of the new location at Library Square.

The building operated as a library until April 22, 1995. It closed about a month before the opening of the new Central Branch at Library Square on May 26, 1995. The two-storey library and public rooftop garden expansion at the Central Branch will open this weekend.

Vancouver Public Library 750 Burrard Street

The old Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library at 750 Burrard Street, Vancouver. (Vancouver Public Library Archives)

Vancouver Public Library 750 Burrard Street

The old Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library at 750 Burrard Street, Vancouver. (Vancouver Public Library Archives)

Following the move in 1995, the municipal government sold the building to a commercial landlord, which converted the building into retail and office space.

Virgin Megastore took over the lower level space between 1996 and 2005, until it was replaced with HMV, which closed in 2012. This building was also briefly home to a Planet Hollywood restaurant from 1997 to 1999.

Vancouver Public Library 750 Burrard Street

The old Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library at 750 Burrard Street, Vancouver. (Vancouver Public Library Archives)

After HMV’s closure, the ground and underground floors were completely reconfigured for Victoria’s Secret and a smaller retail space that would later be leased by Shoppers Drug Mart.

As for the upper floors, the space is the Vancouver headquarters of Bell Media – the location of CTV Vancouver studios and a number of local radio stations, including 94.5 Virgin Radio, TSN Radio 1040, and 103.5 QMFM.

The City of Vancouver lists the old library building as an A-class heritage building.

Vancouver Public Library 750 Burrard Street

The old Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library at 750 Burrard Street, Vancouver. (Vancouver Public Library Archives)

Vancouver Public Library 750 Burrard Street

The old Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library at 750 Burrard Street, Vancouver. (Vancouver Public Library Archives)

Vancouver Public Library 750 Burrard Street

The old Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library at 750 Burrard Street, Vancouver. (Vancouver Public Library Archives)

Vancouver Public Library 750 Burrard Street

The old Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library at 750 Burrard Street, Vancouver. (Vancouver Public Library Archives)

Vancouver Public Library 750 Burrard Street

The old Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library at 750 Burrard Street, Vancouver. (Vancouver Public Library Archives)

Vancouver Public Library 750 Burrard Street

The old Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library at 750 Burrard Street, Vancouver. (Vancouver Public Library Archives)

Vancouver Public Library 750 Burrard Street

The old Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library at 750 Burrard Street, Vancouver. (Vancouver Public Library Archives)

Vancouver Public Library 750 Burrard Street

The old Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library at 750 Burrard Street, Vancouver. (Vancouver Public Library Archives)

Vancouver Public Library 750 Burrard Street

The old Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library at 750 Burrard Street, Vancouver. (Vancouver Public Library Archives)

Vancouver Public Library 750 Burrard Street

The old Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library at 750 Burrard Street, Vancouver. (Vancouver Public Library Archives)

Vancouver Public Library 750 Burrard Street

The old Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library at 750 Burrard Street, Vancouver. (Vancouver Public Library Archives)

Vancouver Public Library 750 Burrard Street

The old Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library at 750 Burrard Street, Vancouver. (Vancouver Public Library Archives)

Vancouver Public Library 750 Burrard Street

The old Central Branch of the Vancouver Public Library at 750 Burrard Street, Vancouver. (Vancouver Public Library Archives)

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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