Fire at historic Calgary apartment building under investigation

The Calgary Fire Department is investigating a blaze at a historic Calgary apartment building.

Built in 1927, The President Apartments are designated as a Municipal Historic Resource

Smoke is seen pouring out one of the windows of the President apartment building in Calgary's Beltline on Sunday afternoon. (Jesse McLean/Twitter)

The Calgary Fire Department is investigating a blaze at a historic Calgary apartment building.

About nine fire trucks were on scene at The President apartments at 809 12th Avenue S.W. on Sunday around 2 p.m. and black smoke was seen pouring out the windows.

It was a garbage fire in the building's laundry room, the battalion chief said, and an investigator was on scene trying to determine the cause. It didn't appear as if there was any major damage.


Fifteen residents were sheltered in a city bus while fire crews vented the smoke from the building, and have since been allowed back into their suites.

The building is designated a Municipal Historic Resource, meaning it's protected from being demolished and requires approval for alterations or renovations to its historic elements.

The President apartments were built in 1927 and have housed some notable Calgary residents over the years, according to the Beltline Heritage Group, including:

  • Owner Samuel Diamond, the manager of Braemar Lodge, who was the nephew of Calgary's first permanent Jewish residents Rachel and Jacob Diamond.
  • George B. Fay, a co-founder of Western Canada Greyhound Lines.
  • Ted Mayhew, manager of the Queen's Hotel.
  • Martha and Harry Cohen. Martha is the namesake of the Martha Cohen Theatre. Harry was manager of General Distributors Ltd. and later became manager of Sony of Canada Ltd. 

The President is a wood-frame building with stucco cladding that mixes different Classical architectural details including arched Romanesque windows with balconettes. 

The architect, Alexander Pirie, also built several other notable Calgary buildings including the Devenish apartments on 17th Avenue, which have since been converted to retail stores, and the former St. Regis Hotel.

Historic home went up in flames last month

Another historic Calgary building, the 115-year-old Enoch Sales House, went up in flames last month and had to be demolished.

The building had no historical designation but had been slated for preservation for years. The building was owned by the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation, which struggled to find funding for the restoration project.


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