“Cornerstones” were articles that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Calgary Herald between 1997 and 2000. The following article appeared June 28, 1998.
Bank of Nova Scotia
• 125 8th Avenue S.W.
• Built: 1929 - 1930
• Architect: John McIntosh Lyle of Toronto. Fordyce and Stevenson of Calgary were local supervisors for the project. Lyle, a native of Ontario, studied architecture at Yale University and at the Ecole des Beaux - Arts in Paris. He designed Toronto's Royal Alexandra Theatre (1907) and Union Station (1916) as well as numerous private homes, libraries and banks across the country.
• Contractor: The general contractor, H.G.Macdonald and Company hired twenty seven sub-contractors. J.J. Macleod was the local superintendent.
• Construction materials: Reinforced concrete and steel structure. Indiana limestone facade set on a granite base. Bronze window grilles.
• Architectural style: An excellent example of regional Art Deco. Emphasis on surface rather than bulk. Extensive use of Canadian and western ornamentation on the facade including stylized bas - relief images of natives, homesteaders, wheat sheafs, saddles and gushing oil, arrows, guns, bison, horses, prairie wild flowers and mountain scenes. Lyle explained that the bank "is an attempt to...design a building in the modern manner with tradition as a background."
• Interior details: Canadian decorative forms used throughout. Marble floor and wainscotting, 36 foot ceiling, a large central skylight with amber glass. The 5,700 square foot main banking hall had floors of rose pink Tennessee marble with counter, dado and door trims in Kasota Fleuri and St. Genevieve marbles. Counters, grilles and cheque desks featured elaborate bronze work. The mezzanine floor running across the Stephen Avenue front of the building had old ivory antique glazed cornice with deep peacock blue ceiling. A marble staircase off the main banking hall led to a large basement safety deposit vault and three walk-in vaults. The main floor manager's office included a Style Moderne marble fireplace while walls were finished in floor to ceiling poplar and cottonwood panelling. Lyle personally supervised the painting of the interior during a month-long visit to the city in July 1930.
• The Bank of Nova Scotia officially opened for public inspection July 14, 1930.
• When the bank moved into the newly constructed Scotia Centre in 1976, the former main branch was sold to United Management and remained empty for four years.
• The building was converted to a dance emporium called the Cha Cha Palace which opened December 1980 with the largest laser show in North America, a 1,500 square foot dance floor and Los Angeles' number one DJ Jack Cardinal.
• Designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 1981 and renamed The Banke in 1982.
• Kim Zazula and Kevin Campbell purchased the building in 1995.
• In 1998 the owners completed a two and one half year restoration costing $650,000. The historically accurate restoration included cleaning of the facade, opening the magnificent skylight which had been closed since 1969, restoration and repainting of walls and ceilings using the original colour schemes and plaster motifs, refurbishing of wood panelling, refitted windows and rehabilitation of bronze grille work.
• Owners are currently seeking investors as they prepare to open the Rococo Restaurant.
“Then & Now” columns appeared weekly in the Calgary Herald between 2002 and 2005. The following article appeared September 4, 2003.
Then: Bank of Nova Scotia
•Toronto architect John McIntosh Lyle created Art Deco prairie motifs in his 1930 design for the Bank of Nova Scotia's main Calgary branch. Lyle also designed Toronto's Royal Alexander Theatre (1907) and the interior of Union Station (1916). Lyle's extensive use of Canadian and prairie ornamentation on the Indiana limestone facade - - including stylized bas-relief images of natives, homesteaders, wheat sheaves, saddles, gushing oil, arrows, guns, bison, horses, prairie wild flowers and mountain scenes -- added a unique element to Calgary architecture. When the bank moved into the newly constructed Scotia Centre in 1976, the building was sold to United Management and remained empty for four years.
Now: Rococo Restaurant
•The former main branch of the Bank of Nova Scotia reopened in 1980 as a dance emporium called the Cha Cha Palace, featuring the largest laser show in North America, a 1,500-square-foot dance floor and Los Angeles' number one DJ Jack Cardinal. In 1982, one year after the building was designated a Provincial Historic Resource, the nightclub was renamed The Banke. In 1998, new owners Kim Zazula and Kevin Campbell completed a $650,000 restoration project in preparation for the opening of the Rococo Restaurant. The historically accurate restoration included refitted windows, restoration of bronze grillwork, facade cleaning, opening the skylight which had been closed since 1969, and the restoration and repainting of walls and ceilings using the original 1930 colour schemes and plaster motifs.