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New Westminster Hotel History | The Met Hotel

Hotel History

The Burr Block (411-419 Columbia Street) - New Westminster History
Built in 1892, The Met Hotel was originally known as the Burr Block (named after its original owner, William H. Burr). This hotel was designed in the Victorian Romanesque Revival style featuring unglazed red bricks, terracotta ornaments and beautifully arched windows. The architect for this building was the well respected George William Grant (1852-1925) who was the principal architect for many of the buildings in early New Westminster. After the Great Fire of 1898, he moved his office into the Burr Block where he assisted in the re-design of many of the damaged or replacement buildings.

The Burr Block and The Great Fire of 1898 - New Westminster History
This 4 storey brick building is one of only two buildings in the downtown core to survive the fire of 1898 (the other building was Guichon Block later known as the Queens Hotel). This fire destroyed nine-tenths of downtown New Westminster and stopped just short of the Burr Block. Firemen were finally able to stop this raging inferno with the aid of fire-pumps of a ferry boat. The City of New Westminster had the challenge of re-building its city after this heart-breaking disaster, and successfully achieved this by 1910. From those times until today, Columbia Street has been known as “The Golden Mile” due to its colorful and inspiring historical background.

The Location - New Westminster, BC
(Source: City of New Westminster

In 1859, New Westminster was selected as the first capital of the new colony of British Columbia and officially named the “City of New Westminster” by Queen Victoria, after her favourite part of London. From this naming by the Queen, the City gained its nickname, “The Royal City”, and became the first city in Western Canada.

A year later, it became the first City to have an elected municipal government. In 1866, the colonies of British Columbia and Vancouver Island united as “British Columbia” with New Westminster as its capital. A couple of years later, the capital status was moved to Victoria. But New Westminster, which had overcome the downturn in the Fraser gold rush, weathered the loss and retained its vibrant spirit.

The Original Builder/Owner of The Met Hotel, New Westminster
The Burr Block building was built by William Henry Burr (1827-1896), an early teacher and settler to the area. Mr. Burr was hard hit by the recession of the mid-1890s and eventually retired to Ladner, BC. An interesting aside, he was related to the famous actor, Raymond Burr, who played the leading role of lawyer/detective on The Perry Mason Show.