“Cornerstones” were articles that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Calgary Herald between 1997 and 2000. The following article appeared June 22, 1997.
Central Fire Station (Firehall #1)
• 140 6th Avenue S.E.
• Built: 1911
• Architect: Lang and Major and associate architects Hodgson, Bates and Butler.
• Contractor: Fyshe, Martin and Company of Calgary
• Original cost: $34,021
• Construction materials: Concrete and masonry exterior, brick cladding and Calgary sandstone trim around the windows and arched bays.
• Architectural style: Classical styling. Two stories and full basement, a central pediment, a side tower with a 1300 pound brass bell and copper cupola. Fifty foot masonry bell tower is focus of the building.
• Original interior details: pressed tin ceiling, 5 brass slide poles, fir floor(2nd storey) and trim.
• Alterations: 1915 - heating system converted from coal to gas. 1920 - west half of second floor added. 1936 - two storey addition to rear. 1989 - $1.1 million renovation by Budget Rent-A-Car.
• replaced Calgary's first firehall, a wooden structure at 122 7th Avenue S.E. built in 1887 as home to the volunteer Calgary Fire Brigade.
Mayor J.W. Mitchell laid the cornerstone for the new "Fire Headquarters" July 5, 1911 as part of the ceremonies for the Western Firemen's Association Conference hosted by Calgary.
• unique 45 degree angular placement of the building on the lot allowed easy access to 1st Street or 6th Avenue.
• the Department moved into the new building during the first week of October 1911.
• fire fighters were volunteers until 1898 when James "Cappy" Smart was hired as the chief and first full-time paid employee of the Department. Cappy was also the local undertaker.
• By 1911 the force was full time and fully paid. In 1912 firemen were paid $70.00 per month and lived 24 hours a day at the hall.
• Chief Smart's living quarters and office were on the second floor. He had his own brass pole from the office to the main floor but had a trap door built around it so guests would not fall down the hole.
• shortly after the hall opened, fireman Bud Fisher painted murals (landscapes) on the walls of a small basement room. (still intact)
• the western portion of the second floor was not built as specified in the original plans but was added in 1920 to provide a gymnasium, kitchen and lounge.
• in 1945 the modern motorized fire equipment would no longer fit through the five arched bays which easily accommodated the horse drawn vehicles and early motorized equipment. The old swinging wooden doors (large etched glass windows over the original doors were removed and lost) were replaced with modern overhead doors.
• during WWII the brass bell, metal dome and stone ornamentation from the top of the hose tower was removed and replaced with an air raid siren.
• Central Fire Station closed in 1973 ending 61 years of service as a firehall.
designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 1975.
• In 1989 Budget Rent-A-Car leased the building from the city and spent $1.1 million renovating. The cupola was reconstructed in 1991.
“Then & Now” columns appeared weekly in the Calgary Herald between 2002 and 2005. The following article appeared June 3, 2003.
• Mayor J. W. Mitchell laid the cornerstone for the new Fire Headquarters on July 5, 1911, as part of the ceremonies for the Western Firemen's Association Conference hosted by Calgary. When construction was completed in the fall, the fire department moved from the old wooden fire hall on 7th Avenue S.E. (where the No. 1 Legion now sits) into the brick-clad structure designed by local architects Lang and Major. In 1912, a full-time fireman was paid $70 a month and lived 24 hours a day at the hall. Chief Cappy Smart's living quarters and office were on the second floor. By 1945, the modern motorized fire equipment no longer fit through the five arched bays, which easily accommodated the horse-drawn vehicles and early motorized equipment, and the old swinging wooden doors were replaced.
Now: Budget Car & Truck Rental
• The Central Fire Station closed in 1973, ending 61 years of service. Two years later, the building was designated a provincial historic resource. In 1989, Budget leased the building from the city and spent $1.1 million renovating. The cupola was reconstructed in 1991.