Historic Barron Building endangered, warns Heritage Canada
The home of the Uptown theatre is recognized as Calgary's 1st skyscraper
A downtown Calgary building is now listed on Heritage Canada Foundation's Top 10 endangered places list.
The group warns that the Barron Building, credited with soldifying Calgary as the centre of Alberta’s oil industry, is facing demolition by neglect.
"And also this is a massive structure that deserves to be a landmark and not be in landfill — for environmental and ecological reasons as well," said Carolyn Quinn with the Heritage Canada Foundation. "So it isn't really just about architecture and heritage but also about our environment."
The group notes windows are broken, the roof is damaged, there is no heat and water pipes have burst. It also says architectural features have been removed from the penthouse.
The art deco building, at Eighth Avenue and Sixth Street S.W., is also home to the Uptown Stage and Screen, which was recently forced to close its doors after a dispute with the landlord over heating and maintenance.
Despite being recognized as Calgary's first skyscraper and listed on the city’s Inventory of Evaluated Historic Resources, the site has not received heritage designation, which requires the owner’s approval, according to the foundation.
The brainchild of Jacob Bell Barron, the 11-storey building was built just after oil was found in Leduc in 1947.
Calgary had limited office space at the time, and the Barron Building is widely credited with sparking a surge in office construction.
The upscale office space attracted many from the oil industry, including Shell, Halliburton, Sun Oil and Mobil Oil. Mobil leased most of the building from 1955 to 1969, during which time the site was known as the Mobil Oil Building.
In 2003, the Alberta Association of Architects named the building as one of the most significant structures in the province.
When the building opened in the early 1950s, it was one of the first mixed-use buildings of its kinds in the city, featuring a movie theatre on the bottom two floors, office space and residential space, complete with a rooftop garden, according to the Calgary Public Library.
The building is listed in the real estate portfolio of Strategic Group.
Quinn says her organization is working closely with the city's heritage department to have the Barron Building protected as a heritage property.