“Cornerstones” were articles that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Calgary Herald between 1997 and 2000. The following article appeared September 7, 1997.
Government House (Formerly Calgary Normal School / McDougall School)
• 412 7th Street S.W.
• Built: 1906-1908
• Architect: Public Works architect A.M. Jeffers.
• Contractor: Built by day labour, local sub contracts.
• Original cost: $150,000
• Construction materials: Sandstone from Calgary's Bane and Leblanc quarry.
• Architectural style: Renaissance Revival. Symmetrical plan, richly detailed exterior with fine stone carving. Three storeys plus an attic storey. "Features an elaborate front central section with a broad flight of granite steps leading to a triple arched entrance, above which are four freestanding giant order columns with two engaged columns at either end.
• Original interior details: Moulded plaster and carved oak woodwork. An attic storey above the cornice line, lit by five circular windows provided an apartment for the janitor.
• January 1906 a facility for teacher training was temporarily established on the top floor of Central School.
• 1906 - city purchased lot where the Normal School was eventually built for $15,000
• historians claim that the Normal School was built in Calgary as compensation for Edmonton being named as Provincial capital.
• construction for Alberta's first Normal School (teacher training school) began in September 1906. Cornerstone laid by Premier Rutherford in June 1907.
• when the school officially opened September 1908 there were two instructors for 26 students. Teacher training lasted four months.
• on completion the Public Works Department declared it the largest educational structure built to date in the province.
• in 1922 teacher education moved to Provincial Institute of Technology.
• Calgary Normal School re-named McDougall School in honour of the Reverend John McDougall, an early Methodist missionary who had come west with his father George in 1860 and established a mission among the Stony Indians by 1873.
• purchased by the City of Calgary and until 1981 served as an elementary school, school board offices, community school offering school classes to children and adults.
• declining enrolment forced closure of school in 1981.
• City sold building and land to the province for $20 million for use as Government House South.
• September 10, 1982 declared a Provincial Historic Resource.
• $10 million renovation/rehabilitation. Sandstone for exterior restoration came from quarry on Bow River near Lethbridge. Sandstone artisans were hired to complete the restoration work. Previous unsympathetic additions were removed. Interior woodwork restored.
• City built $25 million underground parkade under eastern portion of the park.
• September 8, 1987, the Alberta Government Centre for Southern Alberta was officially opened by Alberta's Lieutenant - Governor.
“Then & Now” columns appeared weekly in the Calgary Herald between 2002 and 2005. The following article appeared June 10, 2003.
Calgary Normal School
455 6th St. S.W.
Then: Calgary Normal School
• One year after construction of Alberta's first Normal School (for teacher training) began in September 1906, Premier Alexander Cameron Rutherford laid the cornerstone for the $150,000 Renaissance Revival style building. The three-storey plus attic building was designed by Public Works architect Allan Merrick Jeffers (who also designed the provincial legislature) and built by day labour. When it opened in September 1908, with two instructors and 26 student teachers, training consisted of a four-month course. In 1922, the Normal School moved to the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (now called SAIT). The Calgary Public School Board subsequently converted the building for use as an elementary school and renamed it McDougall School in honour of the Reverend John McDougall, an early Methodist missionary with the Stoney Indians.
Now: McDougall Centre
• After the elementary school closed in 1981 as a result of declining enrolment, the City of Calgary sold the building and surrounding property to the province for $20 million. In 1982, McDougall School was declared a provincial historic resource. Over the next five years, the province spent approximately $10 million renovating the grand old sandstone structure while the city built a $25-million underground parkade under the eastern portion of the park. On Sept. 8, 1987, Lt.-Gov. Helen Hunley officially opened McDougall Centre. This magnificent heritage building currently serves as the Alberta government's southern headquarters, hosting conferences, international dignitaries and special events.