At one point, Calgary’s municipal history was being eliminated with each swing of a wrecking ball, in the eyes of one city alderman.
Now it leads the country in historic resources with 550, including 65 new properties added to the Inventory of Evaluated Historic Resources just this year, according to information released Thursday.
“It’s a stark contrast to Calgary before,” said Ald. Druh Farrell, who has led the recent charge for the protection of the city’s lore.
“We were losing (municipal historic sites) at a steady rate.”
Farrell said a transformative moment, one she pinpoints to resurrection of the Lougheed Building at 6 Avenue and 1 Street SW — despite a fire that gutted the elevator and part of the penthouse — as a shift in municipal perspective.
“We thought it may have been lost,” Farrell said, recalling vividly the smoke-stained supporters of the Lougheed, including one who lived in the penthouse at the time, who had come later that day to a committee meeting to speak in an emotion-filled session against its demolition.
Farrell claims a funding formula scratched together on a napkin by Ald. Gord Lowe helped save the historic building, and was a watershed moment for the city and it’s protection of historic sites.
“That was, I think, a seminal moment for the city,” Farrell said.
Ten sites over the past year, including sites likes the Simmons Factory Warehouse, the Nellie McClung House, have received historic designation by the city.
Farrell said despite some past creative rough patches, recent structures and upcoming designs body well for the city’s future appeal.
“We’re creating buildings that in the future we’ll want to lie in front of the earth movers to protect,” said Farrell.