“Then & Now” columns appeared weekly in the Calgary Herald between 2002 and 2005. The following article appeared May 12, 2004.
Wesley Methodist Church
1315 7th St. S.W.
Then: Wesley Methodist Church
• Rev. George W. Kerby founded the Wesley Methodist Church in 1906. The congregation included many prominent Calgarians, including Nellie McClung. The original wooden building was rapidly outgrown and, by July 4, 1911, W.H. Cushing laid the cornerstone on an Italian-influenced building costing an estimated $65,000. Additions were done in 1930 and 1960. The church became a provincially- designated historical resource in 1996. The original two-reed organ was replaced in 1912 by a new one from the Canadian Pipe Organ Co., after $1,000 was raised by the church choir. The well-respected choir met with great success in Alberta music festivals.
Now: Wesley Hall Cultural Events Centre
• A dwindling congregation and the burden of maintaining the historic building eventually resulted in the United Church ordering it closed as of June 30, 2003. Developer Bill Bradley, former Wesley organist and board member, purchased the church. It reopened with an independent congregation on Sept. 7, 2003, along with previous co- tenants Jubilee Christian Centre. The church is to reopen in November with a multi-purpose concert hall with a Casavant organ, a cultural centre, upscale restaurant, piano bar and luxury suite for performers. The designer and co-ordinator is Rozsalie Rigon, who is well-known for her chic hotels and homes for the famous.