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Inglewood Telephone Building


Other Names:
East End Calgary Telephone Sub-station
East End Sub-station
Inglewood A. G. T. Building
Inglewood Silver Threads Drop-In Centre
Silver Threads Drop-In Centre (Inglewood)
Inglewood Silver Threads Drop-In Centre

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Inglewood Telephone Building in Calgary is a one-storey, gable-roofed building with an addition on the rear. It is sparsely ornamented, but does feature sandstone detailing on its lintels, sills and gable coping. It has quoins at each corner and corbelled modillions along the side elevations. Its symmetrical front facade features a centred doorway surmounted by a brick arch and flanked by two windows. The Inglewood Telephone Building occupies one lot on 9th Avenue SE in the Inglewood district of Calgary.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Inglewood Telephone Building lies in its association with the development of telephone services in Alberta's urban areas. It is also significant architecturally as an example of an innovative design created specifically to meet the needs of automated telephone exchange equipment.

Telephone services were introduced to Calgary in 1885 when Colonel James Walker installed a telephone line connecting his office with his lumberyard a few miles away. In 1887, recognizing the necessity and potential of this communications technology, the City of Calgary invited the Bell Telephone Company to develop a city-wide telephone system. Bell constructed a central, manually-operated telephone exchange and, by 1900, had expanded service across the city. Bell, which also operated telephone systems in other urban areas in the province, was not interested in providing service to rural regions, believing them to be unprofitable. Consequently, in 1906, the Government of Alberta began to build telephone lines into rural areas. In 1908, the government purchased Bell's infrastructure to form the core of what would be known as Alberta Government Telephones (AGT), which had the mandate to expand service to rural areas and improve service in existing urban systems. Due to Calgary's burgeoning population and the rapidly growing demand for telephone service, the existing central exchange had reached the limits of its capacity. In 1909, the government built an automated sub-station in the Inglewood neighbourhood to address this service deficiency. Originally equipped to manage 300 new telephone lines, the new station quickly reached its capacity. The exchange was physically enlarged with an addition at the rear of the original structure, creating space for more equipment and expanding the sub-station's capacity to 1,000 lines. The Inglewood Telephone Exchange Building remained in active use as a telephone exchange until 1957, when it was replaced by more modern facilities.

The Inglewood Telephone Building was built to house new automated telephone exchange equipment. This sensitive equipment required climate-controlled facilities in order to function properly. Provincial Architect Allan M. Jeffers employed a unique double-wall design in an effort to achieve this goal. An exterior brick and masonry shell encloses a concrete and terra cotta brick structure, which defines the interior spaces. Between the two walls is an empty space of approximately 46cm (18") to 61cm (24"). This space was intended to provide passive insulation during hot weather and, by being a conduit for warmed air, serve as a radiant heat source during cold weather. It was hoped that these heating and cooling properties would provide for a constant temperature for the telephone equipment. In order to maintain a uniform temperature and because a human presence was deemed unnecessary, windows were not included in the original building. Unfortunately, the equipment required frequent service visits to be reset manually. A few years after construction, window openings were made in the walls and a slightly larger rear extension was constructed. The large, open interior spaces, used to house banks of telephone equipment, reflect the building's original industrial and public utility purpose. While the unique design did not function as expected, this structure still represents an innovative attempt to create functional buildings around the needs of developing communications technology.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 913)

Character-Defining Elements
Key elements that define the heritage value of the Inglewood Telephone Building include elements such as:

Original Structure
- an empty space of approximately 46cm (18") to 61cm (24") between the concrete and terra cotta brick walls and the brick and masonry exterior walls;
- gable roof with sandstone coping on the front gable;
- brick arch over centered front door;
- concrete front stairs leading to main access doorway;
- fenestration pattern of single, wood sash, 1-over-1 windows on the (north) front and east elevations and single, wood sash, 2-over-4 windows on the west elevation;
- lightly-coloured sandstone lintels and sills;
- windowless basement level;
- 20cm x 30.5cm (8" x 12") riveted steel beam floor supporting structure;
- one non-structural brick basement wall.

Rear Extension
- hip roof with rear gable;
- sandstone coping on the rear gable;
- fenestration pattern of 2-over-4 paired windows on the east and west elevations;
- basement fenestration pattern of sixteen wood frame and sash, single glazed windows, following that of the main floor;
- darker sandstone lintels and sills;
- windowless south (rear) elevation;
- tall brick chimney with corbelled modillions and sandstone detail towards the rear of the east elevation;
- concrete-encased, unriveted steel beam floor structure.

Common to Entire Structure
- high level of symmetry throughout the structure, with the exception of the asymmetrical chimney placement;
- brick clad masonry exterior walls, brick laid in a common bond pattern and joined with red-pigmented mortar;
- roof clad in pressed metal laid in a shingle-tile pattern;
- corbelled modillions along side elevation eaves;
- brick quoins at each corner;
- wooden window sills and storm windows;
- open floor plan originally used to house automated telephone exchange equipment;
- lath and plaster interior walls and ceiling.
- cast-in-place concrete foundation;
- steel-reinforced concrete main floor;
- full basement divided into bays around a narrow central corridor;
- concrete slab basement floor;
- non-insulated, perimeter basement structural walls made of concrete;
- transverse structural basement walls made of brick, which support the concrete beams;
- wood-stud, non-structural basement walls;
- low basement ceilings, approximately 2.2 metres (7') overall and 1.8 metres (6') under the beams.


Street Address: 1311 - 9 Avenue SE
Community: Calgary
Boundaries: Lot 6, Block 6, Plan A3
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
51.040726 -114.033768 Secondary Source NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2009/04/02

Historical Information

Built: 1909 to 1909
Period of Significance:
Theme(s): Developing Economies : Communications and Transportation
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Architecture and Design
Historic Function(s): Industry : Communications Facility
Current Function(s): Community : Social, Benevolent or Fraternal Club
Architect: Allan M. Jeffers

The telephone was first introduced to Alberta in 1885 to Calgary by Colonel James Walker in 1887. Subscription to the system was slow to begin, but increased substantially as Calgary entered its boom period. In 1908 Alberta Government Telephones purchased the system for Bell Telephone Company. By 1909, the desire for telephone service was so great that the existing main switchboard was unable to meet the demand. It was decided to adopt an automatic exchange service. The east and sub-station, built in 1909 was originally equipped with 300 telephone lines. However, these were soon used up and in 1910 the building was enlarged to its present size, enabling it to accept up to 1,000 lines. All subscribers in Calgary were thus equipped with an automatic telephone exchange working in conjunction with the main switchboard. The Inglewood Telephone Building played an important role in the development of Calgary's telephone system.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0733
Designation File: DES 0913
Related Listing(s): 4664-0465
Heritage Survey File: HS 21305
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 913)
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