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Kemp Block


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Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The two-storey Kemp Block has a flat roof, a decorative parapet, pilasters with cast stone caps, and shaped cast stone lintels over the second-storey windows. There is a corbelled brick sign band with applied lettering reading “KEMP BLOCK” on the second storey, and two recessed bays in the storefront. The Kemp Block occupies two commercial lots on 50th Avenue, formerly Railway Avenue West, the main commercial street in the downtown core of Olds.

Heritage Value
The Kemp Block is significant for its association with J.H. Kemp, its association with the theme of the post-fire reconstruction of Olds, its association with the theme of continued commercial development in Olds, and its commercial design.

The Kemp Block is valued by the community for its association with Jack H. Kemp, who was born in Ontario in 1881, and arrived in Olds in 1905. He bought a machine business from Henry Heddon, and later acquired the International Harvester Company franchise as well as the dealerships for Ford and Buick automobiles. An active member of the community, Jack Kemp was elected to Town Council in 1927, and although he retired from his business in 1945, he continued to serve on Council until 1950.

An association with the post-fire reconstruction in Olds contributes to the historic significance of the Kemp Block. In 1922 a fire destroyed all but two buildings on the 5000 block of 50th Avenue (then Railway Avenue West). As a result of the fire, the Olds Town Council passed a building bylaw requiring all new construction to be built with non-flammable materials such as brick or stone. The buildings that were lost in the fire were rebuilt in compliance with the new bylaw, and Jack H. Kemp constructed this new brick two-storey commercial building in 1928, six years after the fire. The Kemp Block is an important structure in Olds for its association with the theme of continued commercial development in Olds. Despite the economic difficulties of the 1920s, commercial development in Olds continued to progress, although at a slower pace than the early boom of the 1900s. This large commercial block provided retail and office space for several local businesses and is representative of the commercial development occurring in Olds during the 1920s.

The 1920s commercial design of the Kemp Block contributes to the importance of this building. Occupying two commercial lots on Railway Avenue West, the main commercial street in downtown Olds, the Kemp Block is an excellent example of mid- 1920s commercial design and acts as an architectural focal point for downtown Olds. Significantly larger than other buildings on this block, the Kemp Block was built with decorative elements not seen in other local commercial structures. The scale and colour, as well as the design elements such as the sculpted parapet and pilasters with cast stone caps, provide the Kemp Block with a level of architectural detail that adds to this building’s unique qualities.

Source: Town of Olds Bylaw 2009-18.

Character-Defining Elements
The character defining elements as expressed in the form, massing, and materials of the 1928 two-storey Kemp Block include:

Exterior Elements:
- The rectangular plan and large scale compared to other street frontages on the street
- The flat roof with sculpted parapet and cast stone cap
- The dark coloured brick cladding
- The brick pilasters with cast stone caps
- The articulated sign band
- The shaped cast stone lintels above the second storey windows
- The cast stone sills below the second storey windows
- The pattern, style and construction of all original window and door openings

Interior Elements:
- The pressed tin ceiling and mouldings
- The pyramidal skylights
- The decorative metal vent covers


Street Address: 5006 to 5008 - 50 Avenue
Community: Olds
Boundaries: Lots 7 and 8, Block 4, Plan 868E
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
51.79180000 -114.105750 GPS NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Local Governments (AB)
Designation Status: Municipal Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2009/09/14

Historical Information

Built: 1928 to 1928
Significant Date(s) 1928 to 1945
Theme(s) Developing Economies : Trade and Commerce
Historic Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Current Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Shop or Wholesale Establishment

Additional Information

Object Number: 4664-0210
Designation File:
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 46660
Website Link:
Data Source: Mountain View Museum & Archives P.O. BOX 3882 5038 50th Street OLDS AB T4H 1P6 File: MHR003-2009
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