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Grier Block

Fort Macleod

Other Names:
Barnes Medical Hall Drug
Great West Saddlery Company
MacLeod Gazette
Turner Real Estate
Union Meat Market
Wilson Millinery

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Grier Block is a pre-World War One, two-storey, red brick commercial structure with a pressed metal facade designed in the Edwardian classical revival style. It is located on an urban lot on 2nd Avenue in downtown Fort Macleod.

Heritage Value
The historical significance of the Grier Block lies in its association with the development of the business district of Macleod (later named Fort Macleod) in the early twentieth century. It is also significant as an artifact of methods of construction in the period, and for its association with one of Fort Macleod's prominent developers and community leaders.

The Grier Block was the first and largest commercial building in Fort Macleod housing multiple businesses. Its construction reflected the town's prosperity after the arrival of the Calgary and Edmonton Railway in 1892, and its role in the culture and economy of southern Alberta. The upper floor was initially used for professional offices and meeting space for fraternal organizations such as the Masons, and later converted to apartments, while businesses such as a saddlery, druggist, butcher and newspaper took advantage of the wide storefronts at street level.

The Grier Block is one of Fort Macleod's oldest brick buildings, and is clad with the largest, and possibly the only, facade of pressed tin in southern Alberta. Pressed and cast metal were important new construction materials for commercial and public buildings at the turn of the twentieth century. The Grier Block also showcased the larger window storefront areas made possible through metal posts and beams at this time.

It is also significant for its association with one of the town's most prominent developers and community leaders. Bruce Grier, a former North West Mounted Police (N.W.M.P.) officer, cattleman and farmer, financed the construction of the Block. In addition to varied business interests, Grier served as mayor between 1900 and 1918, when many of the public services such as electrical power, water, sewer and natural gas were installed.

The Grier Block is a major contributing element in the Fort Macleod Historic District as it remains the most substantial commercial structure in the downtown area. Its distinctive style combined with its highly visible central location makes it a town landmark.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1956)

Character-Defining Elements
The Edwardian-era commercial style of the Grier Block is expressed in character-defining elements such as:

Original features of the metal facade on the upper floor including:
- elaborate corbelled cornices with recessed panels, egg and dart mouldings, and dentils;
- the second floor pressed metal facadeof the east elevation, including details such as engaged columns with Corinthian capitals flanking each second floor window;
- masonry walls, sandstone sills and brick voussoirs on the north and west elevations;
- decorative parapet finials (urns);
- stepped parapet along the north and south elevations;
- fenestration and door pattern;
- double-hung painted wood sash windows on the upper east facade floor and north and west facades;
- three glazed four-sided metal beveled skylights;
- evidence of original pressed metal tin ceilings, trim and finishes on the second floor;
- remnants of hardwood flooring.


Street Address: 2305/2311 - 2 Avenue
Community: Fort Macleod
Boundaries: Portion of Lot 28, Block 429, Plan 92B
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
13 (ptn.)

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

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
49.725003 -113.409000 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type
5510841 326379 Digital Maps NAD 83


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2002/02/15

Historical Information

Built: 1900 to 1900
Significant Date(s) 1900 to 1918
Theme(s) Developing Economies : Trade and Commerce
Historic Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Office or Office Building
Commerce / Commercial Services : Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Current Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Residence : Multiple Dwelling

The Grier Block was built in 1902 by hotelier Jack Metge and financed by cattleman and NWMP officer Bruce Grier. The two-storey brick structure featured a metal facade. The upper floor was initially used as the Masonic meeting hall for Fort McLeod and was later converted to apartments. Businesses occupied the lower level. The building was the first large commercial block in Fort McLeod and was occupied by a number of companies including: Great West Saddlery Company, MacLeod Gazette, Union Meat Market, Wilson Millinery, Turner Real Estate and Barnes Medical Hall Drug among others.

The Grier Block remains to be the most substantial commercial structure in Fort Macleod's downtown. The pressed metal facade cladding on the second storey is a noteworthy example of this form of decoration. The facade also features elaborate cornice and window surrounds on the second floor and decorative finials on the roof. Also worthy of note are sandstone sills and brick voussoirs on the north and west elevations, and the stepped parapet along the north and south elevations.

The Grier Block is a significant historical and architectural resource in Fort Macleod, and an excellent example of early commercial development in southern Alberta.


The upper floor of the main facade of this two-storey commercial block retains many original features. An ornate cornice surmounts the building, and small columns with Corinthian capitals are to be found flanking each second floor window. These represent major components of this design. However, the ground floor storefronts have been completely obliterated by renovations, as have the entablature, which would have divided the two floors.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0990
Designation File: DES 1956
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 9675
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. 1956)
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