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Knights of Pythias


Other Names:
Wallace Block

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Knights of Pythias Block is a 1910 two-storey building situated in downtown Lethbridge and containing a full basement, two commercial stores on the ground floor, and a commercial office and apartment on the second floor. It features red brick construction with pressed metal cornices and a stepped brick parapet.

Heritage Value
The Knights of Pythias Block is significant for its association with The Order of Knights of Pythias, an international, non-secretarian fraternal order, established in 1864 in Washington, DC, by Justus H. Rathbone. The Knights of Pythias were dedicated to the promotion of understanding among men to attain peace and were the first fraternal order to be chartered by an Act of Congress.

The building is significant for its association with a variety of other influential organizations and churches that met in the Hall over its long history. This included the International Harvester Co. which, in October 1910 established its headquarters for Southern Alberta in the Knights of Pythias Block (basement and main floor) when the company recognized the strategic importance of Lethbridge as a distributing centre. Formerly Lethbridge was in a district with Calgary as its headquarters. The new district comprised of all the land Claresholm south and east to the Saskatchewan border. At times from 1910 to 1920 the building was also rented and shared by the Catholic (afternoon) and Mormon (morning) Churches.

In the 1930’s, the hall was used by Bernadette Fisher’s School of Dance, a dance academy that began in the drawing room of the “Riverview” as a way for Bernadette Fisher to generate income for her family. As the number of students increased dramatically, the school relocated to the Knights of Pythias Block. The building was also often used as a dance hall for weekend dances.

The building also is known as the Wallace Block after late owner, Robert W. Wallace – a pioneer rancher and businessman of Lethbridge. Mr. Wallace was born and educated in Le Grande, Oregon and came to Lethbridge in 1897 and for seven years he and his brother J.H Wallace, conducted extensive ranching operations in the Lethbridge area. In 1904, Mr. Wallace started a wholesale tobacco business known as Wallace Limited.

The building is currently used for commercial and business lease, with an apartment residence.

Character-Defining Elements
The character defining elements of the Knights of Pythias Block include:

- Overall built form, scale, and massing
- Original window openings (west and north facades)
- Five common-bond brick construction and details
- Pressed metal cornices
- Stepped brick parapet


Street Address: 427 - 5 Street South
Community: Lethbridge
Boundaries: Portion of Lots 1 to 4, Block 45, Plan 4353S
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
49.693215 -112.839609 Digital Maps

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Local Governments (AB)
Designation Status: Municipal Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2017/01/30

Historical Information

Built: 1910 to 1910
Significant Date(s) N/A
Theme(s) Building Social and Community Life : Community Organizations
Developing Economies : Trade and Commerce
Historic Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Current Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Eating or Drinking Establishment

Additional Information

Object Number: 4664-0361
Designation File:
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File:
Website Link:
Data Source: City of Lethbridge, Planning & Development Services Department, City Hall, 910-4 Ave S, Lethbridge, AB, T1J 0P6. (Bylaw 6030)
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