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Lougheed Building


Other Names:
Lougheed Block

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Lougheed Block consists of two structures: a pre-First World War, mixed-use commercial building (the Lougheed Building) built in an L-shape around the adjoining Sherman Grand Theatre. The designation applies only to the Lougheed Building, a six-storey steel and concrete example of the Chicago Style clad with brick and sandstone. It occupies portions of nine lots on the northerly edge of the historic commercial centre of downtown Calgary.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Lougheed Building lies in its representation of Calgary's tremendous commercial growth prior to World War One. An excellent example of the Chicago Style of commercial architecture, the building served as a major centre of commercial activity for most of the twentieth century, and was home to some of Alberta's most important political organizations and business empires.

Completed in 1912, the building is significant for its design and construction. The choice of the imposing Chicago Style asserted a confidence about Calgary's urban growth and ability to compete with the metropolitan centres of the East. The Lougheed Building was one of the first buildings in Alberta to use reinforced concrete and one of the first designed for multiple uses: retail space on the first floor, office space and residential floors above. Renovations in the 1940s, including a marquee and a larger lobby, provided an appropriately glamorous entrance to the Grand Theatre in the heyday of movie-going. One of the few remaining examples of this style of architecture in Calgary, it is a familiar landmark in downtown Calgary.

Heritage value also resides with the direct association with the original owner, Senator James A. Lougheed, a prominent lawyer, landowner, and member of Calgary's business elite who was later knighted. The building has housed such influential tenants as the United Farmers of Alberta, United Grain Growers, and Calgary Petroleum Products.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des.2035)

Character-Defining Elements
The heritage value of the Lougheed Building lies in such character-defining elements as:
- L-shaped form and massing;
- brick and sandstone cladding;
- prominent corner location;
- glazed light wells between the Lougheed Building and former Grand Theatre.

Key elements of the exterior such as:
- Chicago Style with the elevation divided into three distinct vertical zones;
- ground level large display windows; recessed store entrances; pilaster patterns defining ground floor storefront bays;
- theatre entrance on the west elevation and theatre exit on the north elevation;
- intermediate floors with grid-like fenestration pattern consisting of paired one-over-one, single-hung windows with sills and lintels; giant order brick pilasters with inserted fixed windows on top two floors;
- external steel exit stairs;
- small windows on top floor reflective of residential use and different coloured "graining" on window trim;
- attic section;
- penthouse.

Key elements of the interior such as:
- theatre entrance foyer and exit corridor spaces;
- remnants of ceiling and wall ornamental plaster and marble for the entrance foyer;
- marble walls, tile flooring, and wood doors with clerestory glazing in the second floor office halls and elevator lobby;
- historic hardware, transoms and sidelights, and terrazzo flooring;
- central staircase with original ornamental metal railings;
-connections between the two units, i.e. Lougheed Building and Grand Theatre.


Street Address: 604 - 1 Street SW
Community: Calgary
Boundaries: Lots 1 to 8 and a Portion of Lot 9, Block 43, Plan A
Contributing Resources: Building: 1

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

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

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
51.047223 -114.064781 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2005/05/11

Historical Information

Built: 1911 to 1912
Period of Significance: N/A
Theme(s): Developing Economies : Trade and Commerce
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Architecture and Design
Governing Canada : Politics and Political Processes
Historic Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Office or Office Building
Commerce / Commercial Services : Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Residence : Multiple Dwelling
Current Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Office or Office Building
Commerce / Commercial Services : Shop or Wholesale Establishment

When the Canadian Pacific Railway arrived near the site of Fort Calgary in 1883, the cattle industry of the southern Alberta foothills took heart, for, now, an avenue was provided for them to sell local beef to markets in eastern Canada and the United States. The little community which had instantly sprung up outside the Fort continued to grow at a rapid pace, and, in 1884, Calgary was incorporated as a town with over 400 people. It was also the largest community between Winnipeg and Vancouver, and, in 1893, it was incorporated as a city with over 2,000 people.

Among the entrepreneurs to take advantage of the commercial opportunities presented by the rapid growth of Calgary and the expanding cattle industry in the region was James Lougheed. He was born in Brampton, Ontario in 1854, and, although trained as a carpenter, he decided to study law at Osgoode Hall. After a short practice in Toronto, he came west in 1883, and served as the CPR's chief legal counsel in Calgary. Apparently believing that Calgary was on the eve of rapid urban growth, he acquired much property in what would become Calgary's downtown core. This would eventually make him very wealthy. By virtue of his connections with the CPR, he was also able to become a much sought after lawyer. In 1888, he formed a partnership with the future prime minister of Canada, R.B. Bennett, and the firm of Lougheed and Bennett soon led all other law offices in Calgary in the magnitude of business. Having strong Conservative connections through the CPR, Lougheed was named to the Senate in 1889 and became the Conservative leader in the Senate in 1906. He would be appointed to two Dominion cabinets, in 1916 and 1920, and would serve as the President of the Dominion Military Hospitals Commission during World War One. The latter role earned him a knighthood in 1916.

By the early twentieth century, James Lougheed was one of the wealthiest men in Calgary. This was due mainly to his many business interests, the most successful being the brokerage company of Lougheed and Taylor. On his extensive real estate holdings in the center of the city, he built a large number of office buildings, such as the Clarence Building, the Norman Block, the Alexander Corner, and the Glanville Block. These and his other properties were managed through Lougheed and Taylor. The most ambitious of his property developments was the Lougheed Building, built on the corner of First Street and Sixth Avenue during 1911-12. This was actually not an original Lougheed property, but a lot he acquired for 70,000 dollars in May, 1911 from Edna Taylor, the wife of his business partner. This was at a time when Calgary was expanding commercially as never before, and, in the downtown core, other buildings, such as the Maclean Block, the Burns Building, the Beveridge Building and the new Hudson's Bay store were in the process of going up.

The six-storey Lougheed Building was designed in Chicago commercial style by L.R. Waldrop to facilitate several uses, including residential, office, retail and entertainment. The builders were McNeill and Trainer. The visual centerpiece was the theatre, with the rest of the building designed as an 'L' around it. When it was opened, 15 retail stores with large bay windows were located on the ground floor on Sixth Avenue and First Street, with the main lobby and the Sherman Grand Theatre lobby also facing First Street. Cronn's Rathskeller restaurant was located over the lobby, while most of the second, third and fourth floors were given over to office space. The fifth and sixth floors were set aside as apartments which included fireplaces and their own bathrooms. The total cost of the building was estimated to be between 600,000 and 700,000 dollars.

The Lougheed Building was to remain in the hands of the Lougheed family until 1973. Throughout the years, it was always a hub of business development, retail sales, apartment living and entertainment. A host of Calgary's commercial and professional elite maintained offices there, while apartments were let to hundreds of professional and managerial level residents. The Grand Theatre was a mainstay of Calgary's entertainment scene for years, while the ground level commercial outfits added to the hub of activity which always surrounded the building.


The historical significance of the Lougheed Building lies in its provision of structural evidence of the dynamic growth of the commercial core of Calgary during the years leading up to World War One. This is done by its direct association with the large number of commercial, retail and professional concerns of note which maintained offices there, but also by its direct association with Senator James Lougheed, one of the most dynamic entrepreneurs, lawyers and political figures in the history of southern Alberta. It is also important as an office building serving a variety of purposes, accommodating, office, retail, apartment and entertainment uses, not common prior to World War One.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-1045
Designation File: DES 2035
Related Listing(s): 4664-0126
Heritage Survey File: HS 6958
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 (Des. 2035)
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