“Cornerstones” were articles that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Calgary Herald between 1997 and 2000. The following article appeared July 6, 1997.
Grain Exchange Building
• 815 1st St. S.W.
• Built: 1909-1910
• Architect: Hodgson and Bates of Calgary
• Contractor: George A. Archibald of Winnipeg and Calgary
• Original cost: $164,000.
• Original owner: William Roper Hull, rancher, real estate speculator and founding member of the Calgary Grain Exchange. Hull came to Calgary in 1884 with his brother John. Hull was one of the first to use irrigation methods, developed a meat packing business and a chain of butcher shops. Along with A.E.Cross and William Cochrane founded the Calgary Brewing and Malting Company. In 1903 Hull and his wife, Emmeline Bannister Ellis, built a gracious brick and sandstone home named Langmore on the corner of 12th Avenue and 6th Street. The house and grounds covered 22 city blocks. The house was demolished and Hull Estates now occupies a portion of the Hull property. Hull built Calgary's first cultural centre, Hull's Opera House and in 1902 the Alberta Block which is still standing on the corner of 1st Street and 8th Avenue West.
• Construction materials: Reinforced concrete frame, rusticated sandstone cladding on three facades. Heavily moulded stone window surrounds.
• Architectural style: Classical design. Height is accentuated by pillars, columns and vertical lines of the windows.
• Original interior details: Hard wood trim throughout. First passenger elevator in the city, a cage elevator with metal expanding door and wrought iron gate. Stair rails of solid brass. Walk in vaults on each floor have pictures on them depicting some aspect of Alberta- a sheaf of grain, a buffalo. Heated and lit by gas. Until 1951 the Grain Exchange Building was heated by the boilers located in the Alberta Block which Hull also owned. The heating pipes passed through a 4 foot tunnel under the lane between the two buildings. Basement designed as a bowling alley and billiard room.
• first building to extend the business section off 8th Avenue
• the building above ground measures 50 feet by 130 feet and covers the entire site.
• at 6 stories, one of the tallest buildings in Alberta in 1909. This "skyscraper" was considered the most up-to-date business block in the province.
• first structure in the city to be built using the "Kahn" reinforced concrete method of construction, at that time a newly developed technique.
• building was a speculative venture but Hull was persuaded by the Calgary Board of Trade and the members of the Exchange to make it home to the newly formed Calgary Grain Exchange. Initially it was called the Hull Block but the name was changed to the Grain Exchange Building. Founding members of the Exchange included Herald publisher J.H. Woods.
• ornate central door way facing 1st St. Elaborate sandstone arch carved by Norman Priestly. Heavy oak doors and bevelled glass. WH intertwined initials inscribed on a scrolled stone shield above the door.
• home to the Grain Exchange 1910-1919. In 1910, the building housed 21 grain companies in addition to the Exchange. The Exchange enabled grain companies to maintain telegraphic communication with other major grain centres and so set Alberta prices for Alberta farmers. The Exchange was developed as a result of the rapid increase in agricultural development in Alberta in pre World War I years and symbolizes Calgary's position as a service centre for the grain industry in Alberta.
• the Exchange had outgrown the building by 1919 moved to the Lancaster building on 8th Avenue. Since then the Grain Exchange building has served as a business block for a variety of business and professional people; lawyers, physicians, dentists, land developers, an architect (Hodgson and Bates who designed the building had offices there until 1915) the American Consulate in 1911 and in 1950 the Alberta Liberal Party.
• purchased in 1951 by Henry Darney Mann, prominent Calgary lawyer and Secretary of the Calgary Bar Association 1912-1917 who had his office in the building from 1916 until his death in 1971.
• present owners A & H Holdings and Louson Investments purchased the building in 1972 from Mann's family and recently completed exterior renovations. Building is currently a rental property and houses small businesses including jewellery, visual arts, clothing manufacturers, artist.
“Then & Now” columns appeared weekly in the Calgary Herald between 2002 and 2005. The following article appeared February 18, 2003.
Grain Exchange Building
815 1st St. S.W.
Then: Grain Exchange Building
815 1st St. S.W.
• William Roper Hull, rancher, real estate speculator and founding member of the Calgary Grain Exchange, built this six-storey sandstone structure in 1910 to provide offices for the newly formed exchange and 21 grain companies. Initially called the Hull Block, it was later renamed the Grain Exchange Building. The ornate central entrance facing 1st Street S.W. is original and features heavy oak doors, beveled glass, an elaborate sandstone arch surround carved by Norman Priestly, and W.H. intertwined initials inscribed on a scrolled stone shield above the door.
Now: Grain Exchange Building
• Present owners A&H Holdings and Louson Investments bought the building in 1972 from the Mann family, which had owned it since 1951. Interior and exterior renovations were completed in the late 1990s. The building provides rental space to a wide range of tenants.