A century-old industrial building in southeast Calgary will soon be a designated heritage building and could get new life as a commercial property.

The C.C. Snowdon building in Ramsay is currently being restored but will get protected status this year. It could even become a retail or commercial property, something heritage advocates say will keep an important piece of Calgary's history alive.

Snowdon building

The C.C. Snowdon building, shown before renovations began, is undergoing renovations and will become a designated heritage building soon. (Heritage Property Corporation)

"Calgary is an oil and gas town and this is one of the early oil- and gas-type businesses so it's an important part of our history," said Neil Richardson, president of the Heritage Property Corporation, which is overseeing the building's renovations.

"In January it goes for formal designation at city council, so it's almost designated, almost done but another month or so to go."

The building was constructed in 1911 by Campbell Camillus Snowdon, a businessman involved in refining, manufacturing and importing oils, greases, coal gas, chemicals, and boiler components, among other things. He started one of the first oil and refining companies in western Canada, C.C. Snowdon Oils.

Fire-damaged portions 'abandoned'

After Snowdon died in 1935, ownership of C.C. Snowdon Oils passed to his family, who incorporated the company in 1958 before selling it in the 1960s. 

The building was severely damaged in a 1988 fire and some portions remained usable.

"They really just abandoned the fire-damaged portions, which was probably three-quarters or more of the actual building," Richardson said.

Although the building was painted white, blasting during the current reconstruction has exposed the original red brick facade and a few surprises as well, such as an old walk-in safe.

Since the Heritage Property Corporation doesn't anticipate owning the building forever, Richardson says it's important to make sure it is protected as a designated heritage building, so that future Calgarians can enjoy a piece of the city's industrial history.

"If a project or building isn't protected by formal designation, you're really relying on the benevolence of the owner to not rip it down."

The $6 million restoration is expected to be done by July.