Logged in as user  [Login]  |
Return to Search Results Printable Version

Fire Hall No. 1


Other Names:

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
Built in 1911, Fire Hall No. 1 is a two-storey, red-brick structure with sandstone detailing and a cupola-topped hose tower. Five bays with large semi-circular arched openings, and an offset pediment further define the main façade. It is strategically set at a forty-five degree angle adjacent to two major city streets in the heart of Calgary’s downtown core.

Heritage Value
Fire Hall No.1 served as Calgary’s main fire hall for sixty-two years, from 1911 until 1973 and is one of Calgary’s most important early civic buildings. Upon the building’s completion in 1911, it became the new headquarters for the Calgary Fire Department and for many years was the only motorized fire hall in Calgary. Under the leadership of its first fire chief, James “Cappy” Smart, a popular Calgary personality, Fire Hall No.1 emerged as one of the most sophisticated and largest fire halls in Canada at the time. Development of the substantial fire hall also recalls the great economic and construction boom which reached an apex in Calgary between 1910 and 1912. The building’s state of the art, functional design and aesthetic attributes serves to reflect the civic pride and booster spirit which defined Calgary at the time of its construction.

The architecture of Fire Hall No. 1 is valued for its exemplification of a large and sophisticated fire hall of its time, in addition to its Edwardian style detailing. Prominent functional design features of the building include the five large arched openings to accommodate engines and its fifty foot high hose tower. The solid appearance of the red-brick façade is enlivened by a variety of sandstone detailing reflecting the preponderance of the local material that once defined early Calgary architecture. Additional features such as the modillion cornice, pediment, splayed keystone lintels and tower cupola lend the structure a Neo-Classical character, popular in the Edwardian-era. Designed by architect and engineer George MacDonald Lang of the prominent Calgary architectural firm Lang and Major, Fire Hall No. 1 was one of several major commissions from The City of Calgary. Lang practiced in Calgary from 1904 up to the First World War and his projects included, Fire Hall No.2 (1912), Fire Hall No.3 (1913) and the 1913 Police Headquarters. He also designed the Banff School (1913), and later the Central High School Addition (1915).

An important recognizable and well known landmark, Fire Hall No.1 is uniquely placed at a forty-five degree angle facing a major street corner in Calgary’s downtown core providing access and visibility to both 6th Avenue and 1st Street S.E. This treatment of angled building placement was advocated by some planning experts of the period to provide increased visual interest to the streetscape, though Fire Hall No. 1 is the sole example in Calgary to follow such recommendations.

Character-Defining Elements
The character defining elements as expressed in the form, massing, and materials of the 1911 fire hall such as:
- the two-storey form with flat roof and an asymmetrical façade containing five regular bays and an irregular corner (sixth) bay containing entrances;
- the fifty foot high brick hose tower with three ornamental (metal) balconettes, semi-circular and rectangular openings, and copper roofed cupola (with finial) raised on classical columns;
- the red-brick exterior with smooth and rock-faced sandstone detailing comprising splayed lintels, keystones, window sills, string courses, secondary cornice, foundation, finials (tower) and the block surrounds of the doorways;
- the five large semi-circular arched openings (engine entrances) with deep reveals; the semi-circular arched doorway openings of the southern bay;
- the brick parapet and offset pediment with a raked, pressed metal cornice; lettering in the tympanum that reads, “Fire Headquarters”;
- the broad, pressed metal, modillion cornice;
- the fenestration with rectangular windows containing one-over-one, wooden sash windows; the circular windows in the southern bay;
- the 1911 sandstone plaque located next to the left of the original main entrance;
- the three flagpoles on the roof of the building.

- the semi-circular structural arches and brick walls;
- the restored pressed metal ceilings;
- the brass pole slide;
- the hand painted murals and stenciling on the basement walls.

- the 45-degree angle placement of the building on the south-east corner of the lot.


Street Address: 140 - 6 Avenue SE
Community: Calgary
Boundaries: Lots 21 to 26, Block 31, Plan C
Contributing Resources: Building: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

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

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
51.04751897020 -114.06094719000 Secondary Source NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Local Governments (AB)
Designation Status: Municipal Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2007/11/26

Historical Information

Built: 1911/01/01
Period of Significance: N/A
Theme(s): Governing Canada : Government and Institutions
Historic Function(s): Government : Fire Station
Current Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Architect: George MacDonald Lang

Additional Information

Object Number: 4664-0267
Designation File:
Related Listing(s): 4665-0455
Heritage Survey File:
Website Link:
Data Source: City of Calgary, Heritage Planning, File No. 01-174
Return to Search Results Printable Version

Freedom to Create. Spirit to Achieve.

Home    Contact Us    Login   Library Search

© 1995 - 2024 Government of Alberta    Copyright and Disclaimer    Privacy    Accessibility