The Value of Calgary’s Historic Architecture

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mC:t   2015.04.13



Plans for the redevelopment of the St. Louis Hotel were released recently. The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation announced that the design will be mixed-use, including a food service tenant and cooperative office spaces. The CMLC also announced it’s acquisition of the Cecil Hotel site.



The two redevelopments will accompany the King Edward Hotel, Simmons building and Hillier Block as historic properties in the East Village that will somehow be incorporated into the redevelopment of the area.



Adding to the diversity and character of the streetscape, these projects show that historic properties have a demonstrated value for new developments. Historic architecture serves as both a living archive of architectural history as well as the stories of its occupants and uses over time. Here’s an example of a couple…



The St. Louis Hotel was built in 1914 by developer Colonel James Walker to provide accommodation for travelers arriving on the new Grand Trunk Pacific Railway at Fort Calgary. It contained a bar, cafe, barbershop and cigar stand in addition to its 60 hotel rooms. It is now one of just six Calgary hotels that predate World War I.



In 2008 the City of Calgary designated the building as a Municipal Historic Resource. Mario Toneguzzi of the Calgary Herald reported, “the St. Louis Hotel was made famous as a frequent hangout for former Mayor and Alberta Premier Ralph Klein and its imaginary Friday afternoon horse races.”



The 104 year old Cecil Hotel, built in 1911, catered to the “working man” in contrast to upscale options like the Alberta Hotel or Palliser Hotel. It originally contained a billiard room, dining room, bar and barbershop, in addition to its 54 guest rooms.

The CMLC report reveals the hotel’s connection to Clagary’s early German community. “German immigrants Joseph Schuster and Charles Pohl were the hotel’s first proprietors as well as the publishers of the German language newspaper Der Deutsch-Canadier. The newspaper was Canada’s largest German newspaper and from 1911-14 was produced from a commercial space in the rear of the hotel.”



The hotel is also one of three existing “Brewery Hotels.” The hotel was financed by Calgary Brewing and Malting Company from 1933-67 in order to “ensure a market for its products after prohibition.”

Although it was damaged during the 2013 flood, hopefully it’s character can be maintained in the restoration. It carries a similar potential to the St. Louis Hotel in its mix-use designation and location within the East Village redevelopment.



makeCalgary would like to know which historic buildings you would like to see restored or repurposed in Calgary. Visit the CMLC’s Municipal Historic Resources page for a complete listing or let us know about the buildings in your neighbourhood in which you see potential.



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