“Then & Now” columns appeared weekly in the Calgary Herald between 2002 and 2005. The following article appeared February 5, 2003.
Then: Hull's Opera House (Albion Block), 606 Centre St.
• In 1889, William Roper Hull, for whom Hull's Opera House was named, hired architects Child and Wilson to design a $10,000 sandstone and brick building. The 1,000-seat venue opened in March 1893, featuring operatic and theatrical productions. Closed briefly for renovations, it reopened as Sherman's Opera House in January 1905 under the direction of showman William B. Sherman, who later operated the Lougheed Grand Theatre. Over the years, it hosted opera, theatre, school concerts, fundraising productions, auction sales, the annual firemen's ball, the New Year's Eve ball and often the Irishmen's dance on St. Patrick's Day.
Now: Parking lot
• The building's life as an opera house was relatively short- lived. In 1906, it was renovated to accommodate street-level retail and upper-floor residential apartments and subsequently became known as the Albion Block. Around 1962, George Crystal, owner of the York Hotel, bought the Albion and surrounding property. A year later, it was demolished to provide parking for hotel customers. Today, it is one of many public parking lots servicing the downtown.