“Cornerstones” were articles that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Calgary Herald between 1997 and 2000. The following article appeared April 12, 1998.
Bank of Montreal (Second)
• 140 8th Avenue S.W.
• Built: 1930-1931
Kenneth G. Rea (also designed the Montreal Stock Exchange and 62 other buildings for the Bank of Montreal). His signature was inscribed in the granite base of the front facade.
Smith Brothers and Wilson. A. Turton was construction superintendent.
• Original cost: $741,000
• Construction materials:
Structural steel frame seated on a base of Canadian granite. Exterior walls clad in Manitoba Tyndall stone backed with brick. Marble used extensively in the interior.
• Architectural style:
Neo Classical. Four storeys. The Eighth Avenue frontage is graced with four fluted Corinthian columns. The First Street facade is ornamented by six pilasters.
• Original interior details:
Interior designed by Robert McCausland Limited of Toronto. Ashen green was the dominant interior color. "The interior main entrance was framed in blue marble and crowned by a beautiful clock in a blue and white marble setting." On both sides of the doorway stood identical brass sculptures in the shape of classical Greek lamps. Walls, floors, columns and counters of the interior were finished in four types of marble. The customer tables were solid cast bronze, and wood finishes in walnut or birch. Neo-classical interior with coffered ceilings encrusted with 917 ounces of gold leaf. Moulded plaster ceiling rosettes finished in gold leaf. Mezzanine gallery ran across the front of the hall and above the main entrance. Principle space was the Main Banking Hall divided into three aisles by two rows of Corinthian columns. Massive bronze front doors.
• Bank of Montreal opened its first Calgary branch October 25, 1886.
• The 8th Avenue and 1st Street location, considered the busiest and most prestigious downtown corner, was the site of the main Calgary branch of the Bank of Montreal from 1889 - 1989.
• First Bank of Montreal building on this site was a two storey gable-roofed sandstone structure with a distinctive corner tower built in 1888-89.
• August 1930, Bennett and White Construction Company demolished the Royal Trust building behind the sandstone bank, next to the alley in preparation for the construction of a new more modern Bank of Montreal building.
• Excavation work began in September 1930.
• Construction was completed in two nine month stages to allow business to continue without interruption. First the rear of the new building was constructed. Bank staff was moved from the old sandstone premises to the new and the front of the building was then completed. Through the winters of 1930 and 1931, a large tarp hung across the opening as protection from the elements.
• Opened in 1932 at the outset of the Depression and for fifty years served as both regional headquarters and main office.
• Employees enjoyed a roof-top garden until 1940.
• Extensive renovations to upper floors over the years but most of the original features were retained in the Main Banking Hall on the ground floor.
• When the Bank of Montreal opened the 43-storey First Canadian Centre on Seventh Avenue in January 1983, the 1930 structure became a Personal Banking Centre until 1988 when it closed.
• Re-opened as a retail outlet in 1993 by new owners, A&B Sound, following a $2 million renovation which retained many of the original Neo-Classical features.
“Then & Now” columns appeared weekly in the Calgary Herald between 2002 and 2005. The following article appeared January 7, 2003.
Bank of Montreal
140 8th Ave. S.W.
Then: Bank of Montreal
Stephen Avenue and Scarth Street S.W.
• The Bank of Montreal built its first permanent branch on the city’s busiest and most prestigious corner in 1889 at a cost of $50,000. The distinctive rough-face sandstone building with the corner turret was equipped with electric light and bells, speaking tubes and hot-water heating. The ground floor consisted of the main banking hall, manager’s office, stationery room, washroom and janitor’s room. A winding tower staircase led to the manager’s residential suite on the upper two floors. By 1928, Calgary’s population had grown to 75,000 and business was booming. The old sandstone structure was demolished in December 1930 to accommodate construction of a larger and more modern bank on the same site.
Now: A&B Sound
• This imposing neo-classical bank building clad in Manitoba tyndall stone was completed in 1931. Ashen green was the dominant colour in an opulent interior designed by Robert McCausland Ltd. of Toronto. The main entrance was framed in blue marble and crowned by a clock in a blue-and-white marble setting. Identical brass sculptures in the shape of classical Greek lamps stood on both sides of the doorway. Walls, floors, columns and counters were finished in four types of marble. The most impressive feature was the coffered ceiling with its moulded plaster rosettes encrusted with 917 ounces of gold leaf. When the Bank of Montreal moved to the 43-Storey First Canadian Centre in 1983, the 1930 building served as a personal banking centre until it closed five years later. In 1993, after a $2-million renovation that retained many of the original interior features, new owners A&B Sound re-opened the former bank building as a retail outlet. The façade is currently being repaired to prevent further deterioration of exterior detailing.