Jonathan Rogers was one of the pioneering minds who helped build the new city of Vancouver. Born in Wales and briefly relocating to Liverpool, Rogers soon thereafter looked across the pond to Montreal, where he boarded the first transcontinental train to Vancouver in 1887. The railway boosted the confidence of local investors, including Rogers, who would acquire four properties outside what was then the downtown core. Initially working as a painter, Rogers shifted to the construction industry, where he made most of his fortunes.

Rogers Building in 1936, image via City of Vancouver Archives

Rogers didn't waste any time in his city-building endeavours — he erected a two-storey building on Columbia Street and subsequently added a number of midrise buildings along West Hastings Street. But his most important and enduring work would come in 1912 at the corner of West Pender and Granville Streets. The Glyn Building's reinforced concrete structure was the biggest in the city's history at the time. Designed by Seattle firm Gould and Champney, a 1911 issue of the BC Saturday Sunset described the architecture as modern French Renaissance, boasting an exterior of polished Glasgow granite and cream-coloured terra cotta facing.

The ten-storey building's assembly was an international effort — 15 carloads of enamelled terra cotta were brought in from Chicago, ornamental iron from Minneapolis, and five elevators from Toronto. Almost 60,000 feet of cork flooring and a further 60,000 feet of linoleum were sourced from England, and some 8,000 barrels of California cement were used.

Rogers Building in 2006, image by Flickr user Jason V via Creative Commons

General F.A. 'One Arm' Sutton acquired the building — renamed after Rogers — in 1927 for a record $1 million, the biggest real estate transaction in Vancouver's history. It changed hands back to Rogers in 1940, with his wife Elizabeth managing his interests after his death five years later.

Rogers bequeathed a quarter of a million dollars to several causes in Vancouver. Having also been an alderman and member of the Parks Board, Rogers' posthumous contributions included a $100,000 benefaction to the City intended to create a neighbourhood park in a low-income area. In 1958, Jonathan Rogers Park opened in Mount Pleasant.

Do you have building trivia to share? Join the conversation in the Architrivia Tipline thread in our Forum.