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Description du lieu patrimonial
The Merchants Bank Building is a two-storey, sandstone structure initially constructed in 1889 and rebuilt in the Neoclassical Revival style in 1904. It is distinguished by its elaborate fanlight window, rusticated first storey and a rooftop balustrade. The building is situated in downtown Calgary, along Stephen Avenue Mall, a National Historic District. The property was protected as a Municipal Historic Resource in 1993.
The Merchant's Bank Building is of heritage value as one of the oldest buildings on Stephen Avenue, with portions of it dating to 1889. Initially a one-storey building, it was known as the Criterion English Club and was Calgary's first gentleman's club. The club did not endure, and the Criterion instead became better known as one of Calgary's earliest fine restaurants. The property gained its present name and familiar form when it was reconstructed in 1904 as the Calgary branch of the Merchant's Bank. From 1904 to 1914 the building housed the Merchant's Bank, and retains a large vault from this period. After the building's use as a bank it was used as a recruiting office during World War I as well as home to the 82nd Battalion and the Canadian Patriotic Fund. Subsequently, the building housed federal government offices, and from 1935-1970 was the Bank of Canada's location in Calgary. Architecturally, the Merchant's Bank is significant for its refined Neoclassical Revival style appearance. Unlike neighbouring historic structures which clearly exemplify a North American aesthetic, the Merchant's Bank is decidedly influenced by 18th century English design. Characteristic of the Neoclassical Revival style is the rustication of the facade's first-storey and the incorporation of an elegant fanlight window. The highly detailed window, which dominates the facade, reflects the Late Georgian period with its elliptical fanlight and the ornamented central sash topped by a scrolled pediment. Other defining features include the classical 'eared' surrounds of the second-storey windows and the balustrade that surmounts the roofline. Like many early Calgary buildings, the structure is clad with locally quarried sandstone.
The building's redesign in 1904 was the work of the prominent Montreal firm of Taylor, Hogle and Davis, who were the preferred architects of the Merchants Bank. The firm designed at least 17 other Merchant Bank branches across the country. The local supervising firm responsible for the Merchants Bank building was J. L. Wilson and Wetenhall. Wilson and Wetenhall designed several significant Calgary buildings during their short-lived partnership of 1904 including the third Knox Presbyterian Church (Seventh Avenue and Centre Street SE), the Herald Block (702 Centre Street SE) and the Codville Warehouse (223 Eighth Avenue SW), all of which have been demolished. The firm also acted as the supervising architects for Calgary's Church of the Redeemer Anglican Cathedral (Seventh Avenue and Second Street SE).
The Merchant Bank Building also serves as a vital element to the Stephen Avenue National Historic District. The building's sandstone facade and construction, its two-storey form and its historic appearance contributes significantly to the concentration of late nineteenth and early twentieth century commercial structures which makes up the two block District.
Source: City of Calgary Heritage Planning File 01-129
The exterior character-defining elements of the Merchant's Bank Building include such features as its:
-two-storey plan with flat roof and a symmetrical short facade of three-bays;
-sandstone, brick (addition) and timber construction;
-sandstone facade comprising a rusticated first storey, a smoothly finished second storey, several stringcourses, plain doorway surrounds and classical, 'eared' second-storey window surrounds and rooftop balustrade with neoclassical style balusters;
-granite foundation plinth;
-first-storey fenestration which includes two circular windows and an elaborate, three-part, centre-bay window with elliptical fanlite, casement windows and ornamented central window with a Late Georgian style surround incorporating a scrolled pediment;
-entrance with its glazed wooden door and transom lite;
-framed sandstone sign band atop the first storey;
-double-hung, wooden-sash, 12-over-1, second-storey windows;
-metal, block-modillion roofline cornice.
The interior heritage value of the Merchants Bank Building includes such character-defining elements as its:
-vault and its mechanized, 'Moser Safe Co.' steel door, and the steel vault gate with 'Bank of Canada' inscription;
-entrance vestibule with its interior, glazed, oak double doors;
-its side staircase plan and staircase to the second floor;
-oak reveals and casing of the ground floor windows.
Autorité de reconnaissance
Administrations locales (Alb.)
Historical Resources Act
Type de reconnaissance
Ressource historique municipal
Date de reconnaissance
Données sur l'histoire
Thème - catégorie et type
- Économies en développement
- Commerce et affaires
Catégorie de fonction / Type de fonction
- Commerce / Services commerciaux
- Magasin ou commerce de vente au détail
- Commerce / Services commerciaux
- Banque ou bourse
Architecte / Concepteur
Taylor, Hogle and Davis
J. C. McNeil
Emplacement de la documentation
City of Calgary Heritage Planning File 01-129
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