Calgary Then and Now: Courthouse No. 2 in 1928

It was one of the last major buildings to be built with local sandstone.

It isn’t quite possible to recreate the exact angle of the original photograph taken in 1928, since the entrance to the Calgary Courts Centre’s parkade now stands where the photographer would have. Built from 1912 to 1914, it replaced the original courthouse, which had stood on the corner of 7 Avenue and 5 Street S.W. since 1888 but which had become too small to accommodate the needs of the growing city.

After Alberta became a province in 1905, the provincial government acquired the site and commissioned a new courthouse. Despite attempts to keep costs down, it was one of the most expensive public buildings ever constructed by the government of Alberta. The building, which features a sandstone facade and ornate central entryway, served as the Calgary seat of the Supreme Court of Alberta for nearly fifty years.

It was also the last major building in the city to use local Paskapoo sandstone, which became widely used after a fire in 1886 destroyed many wooden buildings and City Council mandated that all major downtown construction projects use it. Calgary was nicknamed “The Sandstone City,” but its use faded as local quarries began to run short and brick, a cheaper building material, became popular.

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