When the Luxor Hotel opened, its grandeur was undeniable
Luxor hotel opened in 1873 and has stood as one of the city’s most famous hotels ever since.
A decade later, however, the hotel was abandoned after it was destroyed by fire.
Its fate remains unclear, but the hotel’s story is now a cautionary tale for cities in the global north.
“The hotel’s not a building that has stood for many years,” says John Wiens, a senior researcher at the Royal Society of Canada.
“It’s actually a monument of modernist design.”
Built in 1877, the building was the first hotel in Canada to have a balcony, and the first in Canada with an indoor swimming pool.
The hotel was designed by architect William B. Paine and built by architect Henry S. Johnson and architect Henry F. Stirling.
“This building was designed with a great view, and with a view of the ocean,” says Wiens.
“Its really the only one of its kind in Canada.”
The hotel’s exterior was covered in ornate gold-leaf and red brickwork.
It was located on the north shore of Vancouver Island.
The exterior also contained the words “Luxor Hotel.”
On a clear day, it looked like a white, white, and blue ocean, with white waves crashing against the buildings glass facade.
In the winter, it was known as “the Great White Way.”
But it was also a ghost town, with visitors often arriving in the winter and spending the night in tents and cots.
The last day of the hotel, June 26, 1899, was the last day it was used.
The following day, the fire burned through the building and killed more than a hundred people.
“When it went up in flames, people were still living in tents, cots, and sleeping in the street,” says William J. Williams, the co-director of the University of British Columbia’s architectural heritage department.
“They didn’t know what to do.
The building had been burned down and the fire had burned through it.”
When the building collapsed, the people who lived in it were left to pick through the debris.
“That’s the story of Luxor, because we didn’t have a clear picture of what was going on in that building,” says Williams.
“There was no fire escape.”
Luxor was originally built as a residential building, but was later used as a hotel.
Its grandeur has remained a fixture in Vancouver’s skyline for decades.
On the first floor, a small room was converted into a living room, with a fireplace and kitchen.
On another floor, there was a bedroom, a dining room, and a study.
On top of the fireplace, a fireplace was installed and a private bath was built.
The floor below was the kitchen, and it was a “living room” in its own right.
On June 26th, 1899 the building burned down.
The cause of the fire is unknown.
Luxor’s fire is considered one of Vancouver’s most notorious tragedies.
It is said that the building caught fire from inside when someone threw a blanket in the fireplace and the fireplace caught fire.
On July 2, 1899 a fire broke out in a hotel lobby in the area where the hotel burned down, leaving dozens of people dead.
The fire was extinguished by a helicopter and was brought under control, but a massive amount of fire damage was done to the hotel.
The damage was so extensive that in the days that followed, a new fire department was formed to try to control the blaze.
When the new fire captain arrived, he discovered that a hole in the ceiling had caused the fire to escape through a crack in the wall.
The captain ordered a new inspection, which revealed that the hole was a fire escape.
The inspector had no idea that Luxor had been a firetrap.
“At the time, there were rumours about fire escapes,” says Will J. Cripps, a Vancouver historian.
“We did not know that Luxors fire escape had been used in this way.”
“Luxe had a very complex fire escape system,” says Crippes.
“If it was not safe, it would not be safe.”
The fire department also learned that the hotel had been an operating hotel, not a residential one.
“In 1873, the city was still using a building for a residential purpose,” says J.P. Gagnon, a historian at the Vancouver Historical Society.
“And this is an example of how they changed the rules.”
The city built a fire department to try and contain the fire, but only one firefighter was on duty that day.
“I can remember the first time I saw a fire brigade,” says Bill Meehan, a history professor at the University, of the early morning fire brigade.
“But I remember hearing about it later.
We were still dealing with a fire and the only firefighter was standing by and waiting for us.”
Luxors first owner, Henry Johnson, built the hotel in 1875.
Johnson had purchased the property in 18