View this document at Calgary Public Library: Post Office, Calgary, Alberta. 33.
|Creator||Photogelatine Engraving Col, Limited, Ottawa|
|Title||Post Office, Calgary, Alberta. 33.|
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Calgary Public Library, Central Library, Local History Room
Postcards from the Past
|Contributor||Calgary Public Library|
|Description||“Cornerstones” were articles that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Calgary Herald between 1997 and 2000. The following article appeared October 26, 1997. <br><br> “Calgary Classic: Greek columns, marble and bronze contribut to elegant look of public works building” Calgary Public Building (Post Office) <br>• 205 8th Avenue S.E. <br>• Built: 1930 - 1931 <br>• Architect: Federal Department of Public Works. Local architect Charles Sellens supervised the project. <br>• Contractor: Smith Brothers and Wilson of Calgary and Regina. Walter Douglas was the local superintendent of the construction work. Excavation work sub - contracted to the Commercial Cartage Company. Many of the sub - contracts were awarded to local firms. <br>• Original cost: $1.5 million (estimates ranged as high as $2 million including equipment) <br>• Construction materials: Steel and reinforced concrete. Clad in Tyndall limestone. <br>• Architectural style: Classical Revival. Lower four storeys considered as a base. Building design featured a three storey Ionic order colonnade. Of particular interest are the fine carved details in stone on the exterior. Specifically, the capitals which terminate the pilasters on the upper section of the building and the capitals of the engaged columns of the entrance porticos. Windows on the uppers storeys have metal surrounds. Each bay contains three windows set one on top of each other. These are treated as a single unit and are contained within metal surrounds. The panel which separates the first of these from the one above contains three inset marble panels while the second panel separating the 2nd window from the 3rd contains a series of floral designs. <br>• Original interior details: First storey floor was marble. The other floors were concrete covered with battleship linoleum. Front lobby was " an exquisite creation of Quebec grey marble with bronze fittings. Hanging from the ceiling, some twenty - five feet above are swinging bronze shades shielding the glare of extra powerful lights." Radiators were made of solid bronze. Bronze framed tables topped with thick black marble slabs were located at regular intervals in the front lobby. <br><br> Historical highlights: <br>• Main Post Office (built in 1894 to house the post office, government land office and the inland revenue offices) originally occupied this site but was torn down in 1913 with the intention of immediately rebuilding more modern, expanded quarters. The Rex Theatre located east of the old post office was purchased by the government and also demolished. The plan was to commence construction of a new facility in the summer of 1914. When World War I was declared the Dominion government public works projects were abandoned. A high fence was built around the gaping foundation hole which stood as a reminder of the postponement for 17 years. <br>• Between November 23, 1912 and 1931 Calgary's postal service was housed in temporary quarters around the city including the Lancaster Building (1919 - 1924) and the Southam Building (1924 - 1931). <br>• In 1929, after considerable lobbying by Calgary businessmen and officials, the federal government finally passed an appropriation to cover the cost of a new public building for Calgary. <br>• Excavation for the Calgary Public Building began in January 1930. The excavation company had to pour a 12 foot concrete slab to check the heavy flow of water which started when they began to dig. Heat was first turned on in the building November 11, 1930. <br>• Between 50 and 200 men a day worked at the construction site. <br>• The Public Building was designed to accommodate the post office and consolidate federal government departments which leased space throughout Calgary. <br>• Prime Minister R.B. Bennett officially opened the building Monday August 24, 1931, turning the key in the solid brass doors of the main entrance. The rather low key ceremony was attended by Calgary Postmaster H. Hargreaves and various city officials. <br>• The post office and staff of 256 occupied the first three floors. First floor - public lobby with two entrances, various wickets for stamps, money orders and registered mail. The sorters worked behind the lobby wall. Second floor - postmaster's office and other offices as well as large rooms for handling mail. Third floor - District Superintendent J.B. Corley and staff whose jurisdiction extended over the 550 post offices within the boundaries of the Calgary division. <br>• The remaining five storeys were occupied by the Department of the Interior, Indian Affairs, Immigration and Colonization, Department of Marine Radio, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. During World War II " many war -related agencies worked out of the Public Building including Wartime Oils, a special government agency which financed exploration for petroleum in aid of national defence." <br>• Local papers emphasized that "all Canadian materials and labor were used in the construction." It was reported that the project required; two car loads of copper and lead, nine thousand cubic yards of concrete, eight hundred tons of reinforcing steel, eighty five thousand yards of plastering, one hundred and twenty cars of cut stone, three car loads of battleship linoleum and twelve car loads of Quebec marble. <br>• In 1961 the post office moved into more spacious quarters at 9th Avenue and 1st Street S.W. <br>• In 1979 the City of Calgary bought the Calgary Public Building for $3.8 million. <br>• The Performing Arts project sympathetically integrated the Public Building and the Burns Building into the overall design for the Calgary Centre for the Performing Arts. <br>• Calgary Centre for the Performing Arts was officially opened September 14, 1985 by Peter Lougheed. <br>• Upper floors of the Calgary Public Building still occupied by City of Calgary offices (Parks and Recreation main office). <br><br><br> “Then & Now” columns appeared weekly in the Calgary Herald between 2002 and 2005. The following article appeared June 25, 2002. <br><br> Then: Calgary's main post office circa 1910 <br>• Built in 1894 of locally quarried sandstone, this building also housed the federal government's customs house, Inland Revenue and land offices. It was demolished in 1913 along with the Rex Theatre, located immediately to the east, to make way for a larger, more modern facility. The First World War, followed by the Great Depression, delayed construction for 17 years. <br><br> Now: <br>• The Calgary Public Building (part of the Epcor Centre) 2002 Excavation for the Calgary Public Building began in January 1930. The $1.5-million facility housed the city's main postal outlet and federal government offices, including Department of the Interior, Indian Affairs, Immigration and Colonization. During the Second World War, war-related agencies such as War Time Oils leased space. In 1979, 18 years after the post office moved to new quarters on 9th Avenue S., the City of Calgary bought the building for $3.8 million. The former Public Building was incorporated into the Calgary Centre for the Performing Arts, which opened in 1985, and has recently been renamed the Epcor Centre. Some city offices are still located on the upper floors.|