Del Mar Inn

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Del Mar Inn | historical, cultural | Originally called the Cadillac Hotel, this four-storey brick store and rooming house at 553 Hamilton Street was designed by Seattle architect William P. White and built by the Franz Construction Co. for A.E. Hansen in 1912. (William P. White also designed The Sylvia Hotel and Wenonah Apartments.)

The Del Mar is most noted for being a holdout building in the face of development – a classic David and Goliath story. In the early 1980s, BC Hydro was systematically purchasing properties on the entire city block in order to develop the area for their new company headquarters. Despite years of repeated strong-arm tactics by those representing BC Hydro, the Del Mar Inn’s owner, George Riste, put social conscience before profit and adamantly refused to sell. George Riste bought the Del Mar Inn in 1972 and since that time it has been known for providing safe, clean and low-cost accommodations for its low-income residents.

The building is also known as the longest single-situated gallery space in the city. The street level retail space has served as a dedicated art gallery space since the mid-1960s, starting with the Bau-Xi gallery. Since then, the Contemporary Art Gallery, Belkin and Or galleries have all occupied the Del Mar’s storefront, benefitting from Riste’s support of the arts by providing reasonable rents to the non-profit arts groups.

All of this makes the Del Mar Inn the perfect canvas for the political art statement, “Unlimited Growth Increases The Divide”, a typographic frieze by artist Katherine Walter.

Before his death in 2010, George Riste made sure that his beloved Del Mar Inn be maintained even after the current (and last) generation of Ristes have gone by establishing a society that should see the Del Mar standing defiant, ad infinitum.

In 2012, on the occasion of the building’s 100th anniversary, the Del Marr Inn was named one of the Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s “Places that Matter”.

Usage: “This city could use more building owners who put people before profits, like the Riste family that owns the Del Mar Inn.”

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