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Culture

June 6 2013

Gastown Throwback: The Buscombe Building

What: The Buscombe Building

Where: 342 Water Street & 403 W. Cordova Street

Built: 1899

This uniquely triangular shaped building was built in 1899, and the top two stories were added in 1911. Its unique keystone heads hold interesting backstories…

Initially, the building was commissioned by glassware merchant Frederick Buscombe, who served as Mayor of Vancouver from 1905 to 1906. 

It is little known that the façade for both the Water Street and West Cordova Street sides were built from Gulf Island sandstone; these stone blocks were deliberately chiseled by local masons to create a rough surface look, while the entrances are more refined, and adorned with carved capitals and interesting keystone heads.  

The keystone head on the Water Street entrance features Medusa, one of the three sisters of Greek mythology known as the Gorgons.  Medusa is also known as the serpent goddess, since her hair is made of snakes.  She was considered a ‘guardian or protectoress’.

On the other side, the West Cordova Street façade features two keystone heads. The one at 403 the West Cordova Street entrance is a representation of Pan, the ancient Greek god of flocks and shepherds.  The one at the 401 West Cordova Street entrance is thought to be either Zeus or Neptune.

The Building was restored in 1978 for office and retail use. Today The Buscombe Buildling is home to Brioche Urban Eatery (check out our interview with Eduardo here), Cigar Connoisseurs, and Rocket Repro, among other independent business.