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Key Number: HS 20854
Site Name: Fire Hall No. 1
Other Names:
Site Type: 1312 - Governmental: Fire Station or Hall

Location

ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
23 1 5


Address: 140 - 6 Avenue SE
Number: 40
Street: 1 SE
Avenue: 6 SE
Other:
Town: Calgary
Near Town:

Media

Type Number Date View
Source

Architectural

Style: Classical Revival
Plan Shape: Rectangular
Storeys: Storeys: 2
Foundation: Basement/Foundation Wall Material: Brick
Superstructure:
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure: Medium Gable
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes: Wall Design and Detail: Plain Parapet
Roof Trim - Eaves: Corbelled Cornice
Roof Trim Material - Eaves: Stone
Towers, Steeples and Domes: Tower
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Plain Lintel
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Material: Stone
Exterior: Cladding is brick with stone corbelling, lintels and cap. A brick parapet wall six feet high surrounds the sloping roof, while a metal and wood cornice enhances the exterior at the top-most level.
Semi-circular arched openings for fire trucks with alternating brick and stone voussoirs.
Roof trim: boxed frieze with pediment. Rear of building: common bond brick.
The structure is a two storey concrete and masonry building, with a fifty foot high masonry tower.
The exterior cladding is brick with stone corbelling, lintels and cap. A brick parapet wall six feet high surrounds the sloping roof, while a metal and wood cornice enhances the exteior at the top-most level.
* * *
Bell Tower added on top of building in back; front doors are semi-circulaar with keystone edging; roof trim; boxed freezed trim with a traingular box on top floor; back straight brick; lintel windows; plaque on northeast corner of building.
Plaque on northeast corner of the building.
* * *
The exterior has retained essentially its original character, as has the main floor, which displays pressed metal ceiling panels and original brick arches. A shed has been attached to the NE side of the building.
* * *
The 1911 Fire Hall #1 is a two storey concrete and masonry building on six lots in amidst high-rise office buildings in downtown Calgary. The front façade, with its five bay doors, is diagonally oriented toward the corner. Its exterior cladding is brick with sandstone corbelling, lintels, and cap. A brick parapet surrounds the sloping roof, and a metal and wood cornice decorates the exterior at the topmost level. A square tower with a copper covered cupola rises in the northeast corner.
Interior: Brick arches, pressed metal ceilings. Basement has several paintings done by an early Calgary Fireman. The second floor contains a gymnasium.
Environment: Located in downtown Calgary, in an area of rapid new development. Unique setting due to construction of building on a 45 degree angle to the street. Faces south-east at a 45 degree angle to the street corner. The building remains in its original environment in downtown Calgary and contributes to the historic character of the area. The building also retains its diagonal orientation to the street corner.
Condition: Structure: Good. Repair: Good. (15 JAN 1980).
Alterations:

Historical

Construction: Construction Date:
Construction begun
Fire Hall opened
1910/01/01
1911/01/01
Usage: Usage Date:
Fire Hall
No longer used as a Fire Hall
Vacant
1911/01/01
1973/12/01
1980/01/15
Owner: Owner Date:
City of Calgary
1911/01/01
Architect: Lang & Major
Builder: N/A
Craftsman: N/A
History: Constructed and occupied in 1911 as the headquarters of the Calgary Fire Department, replacing the old firehall at 122 - 7 Avenue S.E., which had been erected in 1887. The brick building was occupied by the Fire Department until December 1973. In 1975 the fire hall became Calgary's first designated historical resource. Proposals such as an active fire hall, fire museum, restaurant etc., have been considered for the structure.
The Old No. 1 Fire Hall is one of Calgary's original large permanent buildings. Constructed in 1912, it was built during the sandstone/brick era, a period of building activity that followed the more temporary wood frame environment that was early Calgary.
The structure is a two storey concrete and masonry building, with a fifty foot high masonry tower. The exterior cladding is brick with stone corbelling, lintels and cap. A brick parapet wall six feet high surrounds the sloping roof, while a metal and wood cornice enhances the exteior at the top-most level.
The building was in continuous use as an Active Fire Hall from 1912 (when the previous station one block to the south was torn down) until 1973 when it was abandoned in favour of the New No. 1 Fire Hall one block to the north. Old No. 1 Fire Hall was designated a 'Registered Historical Resource' under the Alberta Hisotrical Resources Act.
The original building design was prepared by the architects Lang and Major with assistance from associate architects Hodgson, Bates and Butler. For whatever reason, the western portion of the second floor was not built as the plans indicate, but was added on in 1920, the windows from the Captain's and the Assistant Chief's rooms were blocked off, therefore two skylights were added to provide some light to these rooms.
Also at about this time, Henry Fisher, a Fire Department employee who had recently emigrated from northern England, began doing his oil and tempera paintings on the concrete walls of the basement. The original coal storage room had been out of use since 1915 when the furnace was converted to gas, and this dark space became his artist's haven. The room was later converted into a fireman's lounge, and the paintings (though deteriorating) are still in existence today.
By 1945 the sizes of Fire Department Equipment had increased until some of the newer ladder trucks would not fit properly into the building. The old swinging doors were removed from their 'pockets' and modern overhead doors were added at the exterior face of the building. This gave the stalls an extra eight feet of length - and also relieved the firemen of shovelling snow and leaves out of the pockets so the doors would operate. Unfortunatey the large etched glass windows over the origial doors were removed at this time and lost.
World War II brought about many changes to the City in general, and No. 1 Fire Hall was no exception. The need to install an air-raid siren in the vicinity prompted the removal of the metal dome and stone ornamentation from the top of the hose tower - it was felt in any case that the weight of the old Fire Bell had caused an unsafe condition in the timber frame. The siren was secure, but at the loss of an elegant old tower.
After the war the complaints of the firemen were heeded: originally anyone wanting to go from the fire hall to the second floor offices and dormitory had to go outside and then up the only staircase. The two archways at the entrance were bricked up and an exterior door added to create a warm and dry vestibule between the hall and the stairway.
The interior of the hall has experienced numerous changes as well: the wood stud walls around the original repair shop were removed because the space was too small to accommodate most vehicles. The repair shop was then moved to the northwest corner of the building, into the original ground floor gymnasium. In 1953 this same repair shop was moved next door to a Fire Department building, and finally in 1969 it was located at the new Fire Department Headquarters at Station 16.
Due to the addition of piping, and some repair work to the west side of the building, much of the original pressed tin ceiling panels system has been destroyed. The original second floor bedroom and office of Fire Chief James 'Cappy' Smart has been almost entirely stripped and the fire pole with its brass enclosure has been removed.
Numerous photographs exist of Cappy and his daughter/secretary working in his office.
* * *
Heritage Significance:
Constructed and occupied in 1911 as the headquarters of the Calgary Fire Department, replacing the old Fire Headquarters at 122 - 7th Avenue East, which had been erected in 1887. The brick building was occupied by the Fire Department until December, 1973.
The building is esthetically pleasing, being of brick adn sandstone construction. The main floor interior has remained essentially unaltered, still displaying brick arches and pressed metal ceiling panels. The basement walls display several paintings done by an early Calgary fireman.

Internal

Status: Status Date:
Abandoned
1979/06/09
Designation Status: Designation Date:
Municipal A List
Registered Historic Resource
Provincial Historic Resource

1975/08/18
2009/03/11
Register: 01-174
Record Information: Record Information Date:
K. Williams 1989/05/26

Links

Internet:
Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0455
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