Sitting at the intersection of Strathcona, Railtown, and Japantown, the Patricia Hotel is, like many of Vancouver’s historic buildings, a place that many locals never get the chance to step foot in. I recently popped in to take a look at some of the unique features inside this DTES landmark and a few of the secrets it holds.
The building was originally intended to serve as a doctor’s office. However, the death of the original owner prior to its completion in 1913 led to it being converted into a hotel. Offices were swapped for suites, and rates began as low as $1 a day. On the top floor, a series of doors connect multiple suites where a well-to-do tenant once rented the whole space (these days the doors are locked). Original claw-foot tubs and uncovered sections of the original wood flooring in the hallways hint at the hotel’s storied past, in addition to the beautiful neon sign on the front side.
Nestled in behind the lobby is, of course, the well-loved Pat’s Pub, which was known in years past as the Patricia Cabaret and the Patricia Café. In addition to being an early hub for Scandinavian and Finnish workers, this establishment’s claim to fame is its incredible role in the story of jazz music in North America (expertly detailed in Lani Russwurm’s Vancouver Was Awesome). Original wood floors and exposed brick are still on display in the lounge section, whereas the old smoking room in the center of the bar features an interesting architectural detail: the four columns extend into the basement below, creating enough room for a small boxing ring which stood until 1950s. All that’s left of the ring are the old turnbuckles, but it’s still enough to imagine what it might have looked like back in the day.