“Cornerstones” were articles that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Calgary Herald between 1997 and 2000. The following article appeared August 24, 1997.
Court of Appeal
• Court House # 2
• 530 7th Avenue S.W.
• Built: 1912-1914
• Architect: Provincial Architect, A.M. Jeffers who also designed the Legislature building in Edmonton. Jeffers, a native of Rhode Island was trained in the United States. During the construction Richard P. Blakey (a Scottish born and trained architect) succeeded Jeffers and subsequently modified the plans in an effort to reduce costs.
• Contractor: Principal contractor Quinlin - Carter Limited. Public Accounts Records indicate a large amount of work on the building was undertaken by day labour. Other contractors included; the Western Canada Stone Company, Carter-Mather Lumber and Supply Company, W.Head and Company (plumbing and heating) and Flesher Marble and Tile Company.
• Original cost: $280,000. It was the most expensive courthouse built to date in the province and the third most costly public building after the Legislative Assembly and Provincial Asylum at Ponoka.
• Original owner: Province of Alberta, Department of Public Works.
• Construction materials:
A steel superstructure, locally quarried sandstone, smooth dressed in upper storeys, rock-faced at the basement level.
Classical Revival. An austere structure with little decorative detail. Ornamentation was confined to a pair of Ionic columns flanking the arched main entrance in the central bay. Long rectangular plan.
Original interior details:
terrazzo floors, " two storey marble clad foyer featuring a grand double staricase leading up to the courtrooms on the second floor." Wood panelled wainscots in the courtrooms, ceilings range from 12 to 17 feet high. Basement - courtroom for juvenile offenders. Ground floor included various officers of the court; the sheriff, clerks of the supreme and district courts. Judges' chambers and judges' private rooms on the north side of the corridor. Second floor - district court, criminal court, civil court and court of appeal, law library.
• second courthouse built in Calgary, the first had been built in the same block in 1888 by the Federal government and torn down in 1958.
• similar in design to the original Land Titles Building erected on the same block and demolished in 1970.
• largest surviving courthouse in the province dating from pre 1914 phase of construction.
• one of the last Calgary structures built of sandstone. By 1915 the sandstone quarries had closed.
• 1962 - new $4 million courthouse( # 3 ) opened on 4th Street S.W. and courthouse # 2 was vacated. Provincial government originally intended to tear it down but Calgarians successfully lobbied to retain the structure.
• 1964-1975 - # 2 courthouse housed the Glenbow Alberta Institute Museum.
• 1975 - 1976 # 2 courthouse opened again briefly for court use during renovations to the # 3 courthouse.
• 1977 # 2 designated as a Provincial Historic Resource.
• 1980 local papers reported that some consideration had been given to converting the "old courthouse" into Government House South, but these plans were scrapped.
• by 1983 Gerald L. Forseth Architect Limited had been hired by Alberta Public Works to develop plans for the renovation/restoration of courthouse # 2.
• renovations reviving many of the building's original qualities were completed in 1986. The building was returned to courthouse use and offices for the Provincial Court of Appeal. The rehabilitation won a citation from the American Institute of Architects and an award from the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.
“Then & Now” columns appeared weekly in the Calgary Herald between 2002 and 2005. The following article appeared July 2 2002.
Court of Appeal
530 7th Ave. S.W., 1914
• When it was completed in 1914, for $280,000, this was Alberta's most expensive courthouse and one of the last Calgary buildings constructed of sandstone. After the courts moved to the new Court of Queen's Bench building in 1962, Calgarians successfully lobbied to save the historic structure from the wrecker's ball.
For a number of years, the former courthouse housed the Glenbow Alberta Institute Museum, and in 1977, it was designated a provincial historic resource.
• Following an award-winning renovation in 1986, the Alberta Court of Appeal took up residence in Calgary's oldest surviving courthouse. In 2001, poor air quality caused by toxic mould led to its closure and a relocation of court cases and staff. The future of this provincially owned building is uncertain.