“Cornerstones” were articles that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Calgary Herald between 1997 and 2000. The following article appeared August 31, 1997.
• 408 8th Avenue S.W.
• Built: 1928 - 1929
• Demolished: 1988. Original facade stripped, labelled and stored. Nine bays were incorporated in the new Eaton's Centre development on the 8th Avenue facade of Holt Renfrew.
• Architect: Ross and Macdonald of Montreal - architects for the Montreal Eaton's store. Associate architect was George Fordyce of Calgary.
• Contractor: J. McDiarmid Company of Winnipeg. (built Provincial Institute of Technology). Sub contracts to Calgary companies
• Original cost: $1,000,000.
• Construction materials: Steel and reinforced concrete structure clad in Manitoba Tyndall limestone (easily carved for decorative detail).
• Architectural style: Renaissance Revival. Four storeys and a basement. Facade was comprised of three main divisions; main floor - large display windows framed in bronze, second storey - series of round arched windows arranged in groups of three with a cornice between it and the third storey. Elaborate spiral - wound engaged pilasters framing the windows. The third and fourth storeys visually integrated with rectangular windows contained in recessed panels and spanning the two storeys.
• Original interior details: Five passenger elevators, faced with cast bronze panels of intertwined ribbons and griffins. The first escalator in the city. It had wooden treads and operated from the ground to the main floor. Entire building finished in white plaster and marble. Tiled floors throughout.
• in 1927 the T. Eaton Company bought two city blocks at 4th Street and 8th Avenue S.W., the western edge of the downtown core.
• originally Eaton's envisioned a ten storey structure covering an entire city block, but the economy faltered in the years leading up to the depression.
• in April 1928 the Commercial Cartage Company began excavation of the site. Approximately 18,000 barrels of cement from the plant at Exshaw, Alberta were used in construction.
• Lady Eaton, accompanied by her eldest son Timothy, turned a gold key in the lock on February 28, 1929 to officially open the new store.
• store hired between 400 and 500 staff
• local papers estimated that more than 5,000 customers passed through the 4 main entrances during the first half- hour on opening day.
• basement - cash and carry grocery department, fresh meat and fruit, hardware and sporting goods departments and the luncheonette. Ground floor - men's wear, ladies neckwear, notions, drugs, candy, stationery, jewelry and optical furnishings. Second floor - ladies garments, fancy goods, furs, millinery, shoes, whitewear, staples, silks and woolens. linen and bedding, customer's writing and rest room. Third floor - tea room, house furnishings, hair dressing and beauty parlors, china and carpets. Fourth floor - wall paper, pictures, paints and musical instruments. Pianos, gramophones and radios were a specialty.
• Alhambra Tea Room on third floor was planned in the "Moorish design" and finished by Lewis and White "one of the outstanding mural artists on the continent."
• "the arcade on the ground floor is to be in Louis the Fourteenth style, and will provide a promenade the length of the building, lined with showcases."
• 1936 - 8th Avenue arcade eliminated in order to augment ground floor space by 6,000 feet.
• 1950s - a substantial addition built to the north side
• city council approved plan for demolition in 1986
• as a result of extensive renovations over a sixty year period, very little of the original interior remained by the time the building was demolished in 1988.
• $110 million 78 store retail portion of the Calgary Eaton Centre built on the site of the original 1929 store opens in 1990.
“Then & Now” columns appeared weekly in the Calgary Herald between 2002 and 2005. The following article appeared January 21, 2003.
Then: T. Eaton Store, 408 8th Ave. S.W.
• In spite of a looming economic depression, the T. Eaton Company bought two city blocks on the western fringe of Calgary’s downtown core in 1927. By the time construction had trimmed the design from 10 storeys to four plus a basement. Lady Eaton and her eldest son, Timothy, opened the new $1-million store Feb. 28, 1929. In addition to the Alhambra Tea Room, an opulent Louis XIV-style arcade and a customer’s writing room, the new store boasted the first escalator in the city and five passenger elevators, faced with cast bronze panels of intertwined ribbons and griffins. In the 1950s, the store expanded with the construction of a northside addition.
Now: Calgary Eaton Centre, 8th Avenue between 3rd and 4th streets
• In 1988, the original Eaton’s store was demolished to accommodate construction of the $110-million Eaton Centre. Nine bays of the original 1929 Tyndall stone façade were retained and incorporated into the retail complex that replaced the older building. A new Eaton’s department store was built across the street on the northwest corner of 8th Avenue and 4th Street S.W. The Calgary Eaton centre, opened in 1990, is currently owned by Oxford Properties Group.