“Cornerstones” were articles that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Calgary Herald between 1997 and 2000. The following article appeared April 27, 1997.
• 908-17th Avenue S.W.
• Built: 1911
• Architect: Alexander Pirie of Calgary.
• Contractor: McDougall and Forster Ltd.
• Original cost: $200,000
• Original owner: Oscar Grant Devenish, a real estate and oil man who came to Calgary about 1903 from Spokane, Washington and died here in 1951.
• Construction materials: Alberta brick, Calgary sandstone trim, concrete foundation.
• Architectural style: Gothic/castle style. Crenellated turrets at each corner and decorative parapets in the front facade contribute to the castle-like appearance.
• Original interior details: Double maple floors, birch and mahogany doors, leaded glass doors and built in bookshelves. Many modern conveniences for the period - freight elevator, central hot water heating system, self-contained garbage incinerator, a steam laundry for tenant's use and sun rooms.
• Allegedly built on a buffalo kill site.
• Advertised in 1911 as the "finest and most up-to-date structure of its kind."
• 57 three and five room suites; 12 in the basement and 15 on each of the other three floors.
• Each suite had a foyer, dressing room, large clothes presses, six foot dressing mirrors, a brass Murphy bed which folded into the wall. Dining room had elaborate sideboard complete with leaded glass panes in the china cabinet, that also concealed a double bed in its bottom cupboard.
• Purchased for $2.5 million in 1980, renovated ($1.75 million) and converted from apartments to a shopping centre which opened in October 1981.
• $1.75 million spent renovating and October 1981 Devenish Design Centre opens housing 30 specialty shops.
• Designated a Provincial Historic resource August 3, 1982.
“Then & Now” columns appeared weekly in the Calgary Herald between 2002 and 2005. The following article appeared October 1, 2002.
908 17th Ave. S.W.
THEN: Devenish Apartments
• Oscar Grant Devenish, real estate and financial agent, built the Gothic-looking Devenish in 1911 at a cost of $200,000. Designed by Alexander Pirie, the 57-suite luxury apartments featured dressing rooms, large clothes presses, six-foot dressing mirrors and a brass Murphy bed. Each dining room had an elaborate sideboard complete with leaded glass panes in the china cabinet that also concealed a double bed in its bottom cupboard. Promotional literature claimed, "this device (the fold-up bed) solves the servant problem, in fact it eliminates the necessity for servants entirely." Devenish's daughters, Olive Riddle and Gwen Konigmacher, owned the building until 1968. It remained an apartment block until the late '70s.
NOW: Devenish Centre
• In 1980, as the recession settled over Calgary, the Devenish was sold for $2.5 million. One year later, after a multimillion-dollar renovation, owner Christopher Maier opened the Devenish Design Centre with 25 specialty shops. The project soon went bankrupt. In 1982, the historic sandstone and brick structure was designated a provincial heritage resource. It is now owned and managed by Devenish Heritage Ltd.