William Aberhart's former church demolished at Calgary Stampede grounds

A church with ties to former Alberta premier William Aberhart has been torn down on the Stampede grounds to make way for a retail development along Olympic Way.

Building on Olympic Way was full of mould and had no heritage designation

The Westbourne Baptist Church, where former Alberta premier William Aberhart delivered his first sermons prior to entering politics, was torn down this week. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

A church with ties to former Alberta premier William Aberhart has been removed from the Stampede grounds.

The Westbourne Baptist Church on Olympic Way southeast is where Aberhart began delivering Sunday sermons in the 1910s, which became so popular that he rented the Palace Theatre and had them broadcast on radio across the province.

Aberhart went on to found the Social Credit Party and became the seventh premier of the province, serving from 1935 until his death in 1943. 

Debris from the historic church was loaded up and hauled away Tuesday.

There had been a plan to move the circa-1910 building to the Stampede's new youth campus, a short distance away.

But Calgary Stampede CEO Warren Connell says it was in too badly deteriorated.

"When we inherited the building, we actually found a number of contaminants including mould and this facility is about youth and youth development and so the one thing you want to do is make sure that safety is paramount," he told CBC News.

The former Westbourne Baptist Church on Olympic Way southeast, where William Aberhart first preached, was torn down Tuesday. (Google Maps )

Connell says bricks and window frames will be incorporated in a new recital hall, which will be made to look like Westbourne.

Karen Paul with the Calgary Heritage Initiative says the church didn't have any heritage designation.

She's sorry the original building is now gone.

"It's very disappointing because of the very significant history that this church has relative to Aberhart and the radio broadcasts," she said.

The Stampede says the church site will be used for a long-planned retail and hotel development called Stampede Trail.

With files from Scott Dippel