“Then & Now” columns appeared weekly in the Calgary Herald between 2002 and 2005. The following article appeared October 12, 2004.
215 4th Ave. S.W.
Fifth Avenue Place
225 4th Ave. S.W.
• Bishop Pinkham's luxurious residence, "Bishop's Court" was designed by a New York architect and built in 1892 on Reinarch (4th) Avenue. It was sold in 1904 to entrepreneurial sisters Annie and Jean Mollison. Expanded and converted to a hotel in 1906, the Braemar became one of Calgary's most fashionable and important hotels, appealing to an upscale clientele who appreciated quiet opulence and antiques. Jean retired in 1914, and Annie remained until her death in 1929. Despite several ownership changes, the Braemar retained its good reputation and hosted the Calgary Stampeders in 1950. It went to the dogs in 1953, when canine stars Laddie and Lassie visited, inking paw prints on the register.
• The still elegant Braemar was purchased by neighbouring Calgary Motor Products, which wanted to demolish it to expand its parking area. Many interior fittings, such as stained glass and fireplaces, had been sold when a fire, possibly sparked by a workman's torch, destroyed the building in 1965. A frozen fire hydrant hampered the firefighters' efforts and all that was left was the elegant, Georgian-style front portico and four brick walls. Calgary Motor Products retained the area as a parking lot after the demolition. The Reichmanns, owners of Olympia and York, took ownership and built Esso Plaza, now called Fifth Avenue Place, which covers the entire block.