Happy 106th City Hall!

Calgary’s old City Hall is currently undergoing a massive rehabilitation. The 106-year-old storied sandstone building is shrouded behind scaffolding and a protective enclosure, covered with an image of the original City Hall.

That building was officially opened June 26, 1911 by Sir Robert Borden, the leader of the federal opposition party, who became prime minister of Canada a few months later.

Constructed between 1907 and 1911, Calgary’s City Hall was designed by Ontario-born architect William Dodd. But an overrun in expenses and major dispute with the contractor cost Dodd the job, and local architecture firm Hodgson & Bates eventually replaced Dodd.

Sandstone for the impressive building, designed in Romanesque Revival style, came from the Bone and Oliver Quarry on 17th Avenue. Two cannons were placed around the entrance shortly after the building opened, and the following year 210 palm trees were planted around the grounds.

The landmark central clock tower was especially important in the building’s early days, as not every Calgarian in the early 20th century carried their own timepiece.

The City Hall building ultimately cost $300,000, about double the original budget, and taxes were raised to pay for the extra cost.

Historic City Hall has been designated a Provincial Historic Resource and National Historic Site of Canada, and, in 1991, it became Calgary’s first Municipal Historic Resource.

Over the years, many renovations have taken place. In 2014, city council approved a $34 million rehabilitation project. Restoration work is currently underway, and the important local landmark will remain hidden behind a protective enclosure until 2020.

Want to learn more? Read Calgary Builds by Bryan P. Melnyk, and the History of Calgary’s City Hall and Calgary City Hall files in our Local History Collection.

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