118 - 8 Avenue SW, Calgary, Alberta, T2P, Canada
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Tribune Block, built in 1892, is a three-storey Romanesque Revival commercial building with a two storey facade. It is located along downtown Calgary's Stephen Avenue Mall, a National Historic District. It features a rock-faced sandstone facade with checkerboard patterned parapet stonework, rounded upper-storey windows, and a ground floor storefront. The property was protected as a Municipal Historic Resource in 1998.
Around the turn of the twentieth century, the Tribune Block bore witness to some of the seminal personalities and organizations in the early history of Calgary journalism. The site on which the Tribune Block now stands was purchased by local newsman Thomas Braden in the late 1880s. Prior to acquiring the property, Braden had played an important role in establishing early publications in the community, including the Calgary Herald in 1883 and the Calgary Tribune in 1885. From 1889 until 1892, the Calgary Tribune was printed in a wood-frame building on the current site of the Tribune Block. In 1892, with the backing of the Eau Claire and Bow River Lumber Company and James A. Lougheed, Braden constructed the Tribune Block building. The new space allowed for state-of-the-art printing presses and an expansion of the Tribune's administrative infrastructure. Despite the Tribune's success, Braden was beset by financial difficulties and in 1893, ownership of the building was assumed by the Eau Claire and Bow River Lumber Company. Braden dissolved his financial control of the Tribune two years later though the newspaper continued publication with Braden as the editor. The paper was subsequently renamed the Alberta Tribune and passed through several owners until 1902, when William Davidson took control of the publication. In 1906, the Alberta Tribune was renamed the Morning Albertan and printing of the publication continued in the Tribune Block until the building was sold in 1907 and the structure's historic connection with Calgary journalism ended. In the decades following 1907, the Tribune Block became linked with several other businesses and individuals of local significance. Charles Traunsweiser owned the premises from 1907 until 1919 and operated his popular Hub Cigar and Billiard Hall in the building. Traunsweiser also rented out space in the Tribune Block. One of his most notable tenants was the nationally significant photographer, Harry Pollard. Pollard, who both resided and operated a studio on site, gained prominence for his promotional photographs of Alberta which were commissioned by the C.P.R. The Tribune Block was sold in 1919 to Bertram Charles Binning, whose family ran their retail clothing store in the building. Binning initially resided in upper-floor suites that were later converted into bachelor apartments and rented out. Binning's widow sold the building in 1957 and the Tribune Block passed through the hands of several subsequent owners and hosted numerous commercial enterprises.
As a smaller-scale example, the Tribune Block elegantly expresses the Romanesque Revival style of architecture, popularized in the late 1880s in major American cities like Chicago, Boston, and New York. This style is characterized in the building's rock-faced sandstone facade and rounded windows with voussoirs forming the heads. The building is also an excellent example of the use of local materials - Paskapoo sandstone from J. G. McCallum's Elbow River Quarry and brick from the Calgary Brickyard - in the construction of many of Calgary's prominent early buildings. The building's extensive use of local sandstone serves to recall Calgary historic status as the 'Sandstone City.'
Additionally, this historic architectural character combined with the building's central, mid-block location makes it a vital contributor to the concentration of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century commercial structures which comprise the Stephen Avenue National Historic District.
Source: City of Calgary Heritage Planning File 01-126
The exterior character-defining elements of the Tribune Block include such features as its:
- long, rectangular, three-storey plan with a flat roof behind a short two-storey facade with high parapet;
- brick and timber construction with a rock-faced sandstone facade comprising detailing that includes carved and tool finished imposts, label mouldings, and voussoirs;
- parapet with checkerboard-patterned stonework, pinnacles, and a sign/date plate;
- round-headed, upper-storey windows;
- metal storefront cornice;
- first-storey, recessed-entry storefront comprising large display window openings and a second-storey access doorway.
Local Governments (AB)
Historical Resources Act
Municipal Historic Resource
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Eating or Drinking Establishment
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Office or Office Building
Architect / Designer
J. G. McCallum
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Calgary Heritage Planning File 01-126
Cross-Reference to Collection