St Paul’s Hospital was originally founded by the Sisters of Providence in 1894. It consisted of 25 beds and was founded in the name of Bishop Paul Durieu OMI, of New Westminster. In 1892 the original land parcel was purchased for $9000, which consisted of 7 lots on the outskirts of Vancouver.
In 1894, the St. Paul’s Burrard Street building began as a 4 story turreted wood frame structure, at the very end of Burrard Street, with nothing more than wagon trails to Beach avenue and English Bay.
In 1904, 10 years after its founding, St Paul’s added 25 more beds to its ward, bringing its total bed count to 50. Shortly thereafter, St Paul’s officially opened its School of Nursing in 1907. St. Paul’s has always been dedicated to success and innovation in medicine, the patient has always come first. Today St Paul’s continues to provide the same welcoming, warm, and friendly care it did during its “cottage” hospital years.
With the completion of the North Wing in 1931, and the South Wing during World War II, St. Paul’s expanded to 500 beds. But it wasn’t enough. In the 1970’s plans were made to remake the whole institution to efficiently fulfill its new role as a referral and tertiary care centre. To efficiently respond to the rapidly expanding and changing needs in Vancouver community care, two 10-story towers were added to the hospital in 1983 and 1991.
The construction of the new South wing of the hospital in 1939/40 cost $500,000. It was a six storey structure with 216ft of frontage providing 200 additional beds, 13 solariums, a special pediatric ward and an ultra modern physiotherapy clinic. This addition also created the new entrance on Pendrell Street.
This wing and 3 story addition added in 1949 cost $225,000. It projects from the front of the building and was primarily built with reinforced concrete and a brick and terracotta front. The architecture was by Smith Bros and Wilson Ltd Gardiner and Thornton.
The first St. Paul’s was a simple wood frame structure built by the Sisters of Providence in 1894. During the great Edwardian-era boom, it was replaced with a new, Renaissance Revival-style structure. Built entirely of red brick, banded at the base, this landmark building was tastefully decorated with extensive terracotta trim and topped with a pantile roof.
The shape of St Paul’s has taken many forms over the last 100 years. Starting with the central core block of the hospital, German-born architect, Robert F. Tegen laid the foundation in 1913. The flanking wings were added between 1931 and 1936, designed by architects Gardiner & Mercer. The hospital was later expanded to the side and rear.
St Paul’s Hospital has a long tradition of implementing creative strategies to meet their objectives. In the 1890’s, when funds were short, the nurses canvassed logging and mining camps, “pre-selling” medical care for 10$.
In 1911, there were 115 beds and 19 sisters with 1864 admissions keeping all beds in use on a continual basis. 1185 free meals and 3972 free prescriptions were given, and special assistance was given to 12 needy families.
In 1992-93 there was 581 beds, 17,877 admissions, 48,428 emergency treatments, 10,291 treatments to day-care patients, and 7266 in-patient surgeries with approximately 1000 nurses and 450 doctors working there.
Over a hundred years after opening its doors, St Paul’s Hospital is renowned as a teaching hospital with a strong research focus. St. Paul’s is recognized provincially, nationally and internationally for its work in the areas of heart disease, kidney disease, nutritional disorders, HIV/AIDS and the care of the disadvantaged.
The architecture of St. Paul’s Burrard Building is a historical Vancouver landmark. Although the Burrard Building is “A” listed on the Vancouver Heritage Registry, it is not protected and could be legally defaced, relocated or demolished. Currently, no protection is in place to canonize this historical Vancouver landmark.