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219 - 8 Avenue SW, Calgary, Alberta, T2P, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1996/05/30

Palace Theatre, Calgary (March 2006); Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, 2006
North elevation
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Other Name(s)

Allens' Palace Theatre
Allens' Theatre

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/09/19

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Palace Theatre is a four-storey building with a facade of the Edwardian Classical style, located on four city lots and fronting the south side of Stephen Avenue Mall in Calgary.

Heritage Value

The Palace Theatre is significant as an extremely rare example of the opulent style of silent movie theatres known as "movie palaces" that were built by a Canadian-owned theatre company. It was also the site of pioneering radio broadcasts and is an important part of Calgary's historic Stephen Avenue Mall.

Until its sale to Famous Players in 1923, the Allen Brothers were the largest independent theatre chain in Canada. The lavish design of movie palaces was an attempt to portray films as "respectable entertainment," while the Palace's interior reflects the diverse nature of movie-going in the silent era, with space for the screening, an orchestra, and vaudeville acts.

The first public exhibition of radio in Calgary took place at the Palace Theatre in 1922, when an audience listened to a performance by three members of the Palace orchestra broadcast by the Calgary Herald's radio station (later CFAC). Between 1925 and 1927 William Aberhart broadcast his "Back to the Bible" hours from the stage. Until the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium opened in 1956, the Palace Theatre was Calgary's most important venue for theatre and concert performances.

The Palace Theatre was designed by C. Howard Crane, an American architect who designed the Allens' theatres and others in the American Midwest. It is a prominent aspect of Stephen Avenue Mall, Alberta's finest contiguous collection of commercial buildings of the 1885-1930 time period, and a rare example of a performing arts structure from the era of settlement and urban expansion. The Palace Theatre was designated a National Historic Site in 1996.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1094)

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Palace Theatre include such features of the Edwardian Classical style as:
- red-brick facade separated into seven bays by fluted pilasters topped with Corinthian capitals on sandstone sill;
- two outside bays slightly recessed;
- entablature topped with a decorated blind roundheaded arch and brick parapet;
- arched windows and windows in two outer bays topped with a triangular pediment;
- nine-over-nine double-sash windows in five central bays with six-pane sidelights;
- large carved stone panels;
- decorative iron balconies around second-floor windows;
- decorative plaster ceiling, columns, cornices, and friezes;
- Art Deco iron motifs such as elaborate grill work on either side of stage;
- curved balcony with sloped floor;
- twin marble staircases at either end of the foyer;
- mezzanine level;
- three-sided marquee.




Recognition Authority

Province of Alberta

Recognition Statute

Historical Resources Act

Recognition Type

Provincial Historic Resource

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Sports and Leisure

Function - Category and Type


Commerce / Commercial Services
Eating or Drinking Establishment


Auditorium, Cinema or Nightclub

Architect / Designer

C. Howard Crane



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 1094)

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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