“Cornerstones” were articles that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Calgary Herald between 1997 and 2000. The following article appeared May 11, 1997.
Calgary City Hall
• 704 2nd Street S.E.
• Built: 1907-1911
• Architect: William Dodd of Calgary firm Dodd and Hopkins. Dismissed December 1909 and replaced by Gilbert Hodgson and Ernest Butler.
• Contractor: Alberta Building Company.
• Original cost: $300,000 (double the original estimate - taxes were raised to pay for the cost over-run)
• Construction materials: Paskapoo formation Sandstone from Bone and Oliver Quarry on 17th Avenue.
• Architectural style: Richardsonian Romanesque. Round arches, gable dormers crowned with raised lanterns on corners. Steeply pitched tile roof.
• Original interior details: Centre lightwell, ornamental wrought iron balustrades featuring the Scotch thistle motif. Cruciform floor plan. Many of the interior details such as the proposed tile floor with compass design were never completed because of the cost. 1997 renovation has restored some of these features.
• Calgary's second city hall. The first, a wooden structure built on the same site in 1885, was demolished in 1911.
• Officially opened with a gold key by federal leader of the opposition Conservatives R.L.Borden on June 26, 1911 amid the splendour of 210 imported palm trees. By 1913 the building was already too small.
• Tower clock, made by Seth Thomas Clock Co. purchased by City Council through D.E.Black Jewellers in 1911 for $3,657.
• In 1962 a $2.5 million administration building addition and a $457,000 interior renovation.
• Exterior restoration of decorative sandstone in the 1980s following the completion of the new civic complex.
• 1995-1997 complete interior restoration costing $9.3 million funded by the Alberta-Canada Infrastructure Program and private sector donations. Restoration architect - Carruthers and Associates.
• Officially re-opens May 10, 1997 as home to Mayor, Alderman and City Clerk.
• Calgary is one of seven Canadian cities to retain original city hall. It is the only surviving example of the monumental civic halls of the 1900-1930 period, west of the Lakehead.
• Three Heritage Designations; Provincial Historic Resource 1978, National Historic Resource 1984 and the first Calgary building to be designated a Municipal Historic Resource in 1990.
“Then & Now” columns appeared weekly in the Calgary Herald between 2002 and 2005. The following article appeared October 29, 2002.
THEN: MacIntyre Avenue (7th) and Drinkwater Street (Macleod Trail). • Calgary's sandstone City Hall was completed in 1911 after four years of controversy resulting in a 100 per cent cost over-run of $150,000 and the firing of architect William Dodd. Built on the same site as the old wooden town hall (1885), this more substantial structure housed offices for the mayor, aldermen, city departments, council chambers, police department, courts and the municipal telephone system. Even before Robert Borden, leader of the federal Conservatives, opened it June 26, 1911, the building was too small. For the next 86 years, the city rented space to accommodate an expanding civic administration. The 1985 construction of a new $97- million municipal building brought the fate of Old City Hall to the attention of politicians and the public.
NOW: 704 Macleod Trail S.E.
• A $9.3-million renovation called Transforming Tradition was launched in October 1995 and completed in May 1997. Under the guidance of the architectural firm of Carruthers and Associates and the city, Old City Hall underwent a complete interior reconstruction. Carruthers reintroduced some of the original architectural details, including a three-metre-wide light well and art glass cupola at the centre of the cross-shaped floor plan and a slate floor with mosaic compass design on the second level. The hall is currently home to the mayor, aldermen and city clerk's office. Old City Hall has three levels of historic designation -- Provincial Historic Resource 1978, National Historic Site 1984 and Municipal Historic Resource 1994.