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Stephen Avenue National Historic Site of Canada

8th Avenue, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2002/07/18

General view of Stephen Avenue, showing the variety of architectural detail of the principal facades, 2011.; Stephen Avenue, Sean Marshall, May 2011.
General view
General view of Stephen Avenue, showing the regular pattern of large windows - either flat or round-headed - defining the street facade of each building, 2004.; Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, 2004.
General view
General view of Stephen Avenue showing the visual coherence of the street, created by facades set flush to the sidewalk, 2009.; Stephen Avenue, Alex Abboud, July 2009.
General view

Other Name(s)

Stephen Avenue National Historic Site of Canada
Stephen Avenue
Stephen Avenue
Stephen Avenue Mall

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1880/01/01 to 1930/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/07/23

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Stephen Avenue National Historic Site of Canada is a historic district in downtown Calgary, also known as Old Stephen Avenue. It consist of nearly three dozen commercial buildings from the 1880-1930 era (known as the Sandstone Era), mostly retail properties, with several former banks and one church.

Heritage Value

Stephen Avenue was designated a national historic site in 2001 because:
- it tells of the processes of prairie urban development including orientation towards the railway, a gridiron plan, and spatial specialization;
- it tells of the rising importance of the retail sector of the Canadian economy; and
- it tells of the central role that such retail streets have played, and continue to play, in the Canadian urban experience.

The heritage value of Stephen Avenue resides in its distinctive character as a late-nineteenth-century retail streetscape in a growing prairie urban centre.

Source: Historic Sites and Monument Board of Canada, Minutes, November 2001.

Character-Defining Elements

Key features contributing to the heritage value of this site include:

- a collection of buildings of compact, rectangular massing, and of modest height (from two to six storeys),
- the predominantly linear character of the district, as a function of a 'main' street within an urban grid,
- the complete use of lots with buildings abutting each other, façades flush to the sidewalk, and rear alleys,
- the predominantly masonry construction, largely stone with some brick and stone combinations, and one wooden structure,
- the diversity of design in the façades reflecting the evolution of architectural styles in commercial building from the late 19th century to the 1930s,
- the visual coherence of the street, created by façades set flush to the sidewalk, by the horizontal definition of the façades through the use of stone or brick string courses between each storey and the presence of ornately detailed cornices,
- the regular pattern of large windows - either flat or round-headed - defining the street façade of each building,
- the variety of architectural detail of the principal façades, including in the commercial shop fronts at street level, the door and window surrounds, original window sashes, cornice detail and historic signage,
- the dominance of the Hudson's Bay Company store with terra cotta cladding, greater height and volume.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

2002/07/18

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1880/01/01 to 1930/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type

Current

Commerce / Commercial Services
Office or Office Building

Historic

Architect / Designer

n/a

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

1976

Status

Published

Related Places

Front (south) elevation

TRIBUNE BLOCK

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…

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