Though few in number, the historic buildings in East Village are big in character. The colourful histories of the Hillier Block, Simmons Building, St. Louis Hotel and King Edward Hotel add a compelling dimension to the neighbourhood’s personality. That’s why CMLC has worked hard to incorporate these buildings into the area’s overall planning and development.
CMLC’s extensive remediation and restoration of these heritage buildings is either complete or currently underway.
St. Louis Hotel
CMLC officially kicked off construction on the St. Louis Hotel renovation in spring 2015, intent on opening new chapters for this historical asset while further enabling the retail vision for the neighbourhood with mixed-use office space on the second and third floors and a variety of short-term uses for the main floor and basement.
To extend the life of this 1914 building by another 100+ years, CMLC fortified the edifice with a new steel structure. The St. Louis’s front façade will mimic the style of the façade installed in 1949, and it will include three light wells clad with white panelling to cast light throughout the building. Inside, the building will feature a four-stop elevator, concrete-topped floors with existing milled floors exposed below, and exposed brick, mechanical, electrical and structural elements to evoke the original building’s rustic feel.
After the St. Louis renovation is completed, CMLC’s head office operations will move into the historical asset. Our team will also begin to activate the main floor and basement spaces with uses that support the New Central Library construction program as well as programs designed for our senior and other residents.
One of only seven pre-World War I commercial structures still standing in East Village, Hillier Block has been standing three storeys tall on 8th Avenue SE since 1910. In April 2012, CMLC relocated its headquarters to the Hillier Block to make room for new tenants in the Simmons Building.
Like so many of Calgary’s early buildings, the Hillier is detailed with sandstone from local quarries; and the building retains its original ornamental metal cornices, recessed-entry storefront and red brick façade.
Originally home to a billiards hall and barbershop on the ground floor with residential suites above, Hillier Block received its designation as a Municipal Historic Resource from Calgary City Council in February 2008. Despite its extremely poor condition when the Hillier was transferred to CMLC, this historic building is now fully restored.
In 2016, CMLC will move from the Hillier Building to the newly renovated St. Louis Hotel, making way for a Library Experience Centre. CMLC designed this storytelling initiative to familiarize Calgarians with the library construction program, Calgary Public Library’s long-term strategy and the diverse, exciting programs the New Central Library will deliver. The Hillier will undergo a main floor retrofit to accommodate its new function.
King Edward Hotel
Calgary’s second oldest hotel building, the King Edward Hotel – affectionately known as ‘the King Eddy’ – is well on its way to fulfilling its destiny as the home of the National Music Centre (NMC).
Built in phases between 1905 and 1910, the King Eddy emerged as one of Canada’s first blues bars in the early 1980s. Hosting legendary blues musicians like BB King, John Hammond, Pinetop Perkins and Otis Rush as well as Canadian rocker Bryan Adams, it gained a national reputation as ‘Home of the Blues’ until it closed its doors in 2004.
In May 2008, following our national call for Expressions of Interest and a rigorous competitive process, CMLC selected a partner for the project: Cantos Music Foundation, whose vision is to incorporate the King Eddy into the 160,000 sq ft National Music Centre – an architectural icon that will straddle 4th Street SE. CMLC also enabled the transaction of land for delivery of the NMC – a project valued at $168 million. For more information on the NMC, visit www.nmc.ca.
Restoration and environmental remediation work in the hotel began in 2010, and construction of the NMC, which began early in 2013, is continuing toward its planned completion in 2016. The King Eddy’s musical legacy plays on!