Calgary plans to demolish century-old former Chinese laundry to make way for Green Line

It might have been built in 1914, but the City of Calgary says the Ogden Block isn't historically significant.

City says building isn't historically significant

A century ago, this apartment building was the site of one of the first Chinese laundries in Calgary. Now, the building is set to be demolished to make way for the Green Line. (Mike Symington/CBC)

It might have been built in 1914, but the City of Calgary says the Ogden Block isn't historically significant.

The apartment block, located at 7044 Ogden Road S.E., and several other nearby buildings were purchased by the city earlier this year and will be demolished to make way for the Ogden LRT station, which is part of the Green Line project.

The senior manager of community and business relations for the Green Line team, Juliet Pitts, said there will be a historic resources impact assessment completed for the provincial government before the building is demolished.

Part of that process will be to take photographs inside and outside of the building.

The assessment will go to the province's heritage resources management branch and the information will eventually land in the provincial archives.

Pitts said the Ogden Block is one of four buildings on the street that will be torn down because of the Green Line.

While the structures have been around for decades, there are apparently no significant heritage elements to them, she said.

"They have no municipal or provincial designations or protections associated with them," said Pitts.

The Ogden Block is also not listed on the city's inventory of historic resources.

Built in 1914 by Eng Hon Quan and Eng Shon Yun

According to the Millican-Ogden community revitalization plan, the Ogden Block was built in 1914 by Eng Hon Quan and Eng Shon Yun.

They operated the Hong Lee laundry on the main floor and ran an 18 room boarding house upstairs into the 1920s.

The Lee Association of Calgary states the laundry was used to wash clothes for rail workers at the Canadian Pacific Railway yard. The building's red brick was later stuccoed over, and the building was converted into apartments, according to the volunteer organization's centennial yearbook.

The laundry industry played an important role for Chinese immigrants in the late 1800s and early 1900s, with some researchers arguing laundrymen were able to find a niche with another difficult form of manual labour after railway work because discrimination left few other options. 

The city says the century-old former Chinese laundry in Ogden is not historically significant. (Mike Symington/CBC)

The revitalization plan suggested the apartment block could potentially be a heritage site worthy of restoration but that it would need to be assessed.

Instead, the building is going to be demolished, likely late this summer.

Pitts said the community association and Heritage Calgary will be advised by the city when the work is set to get underway.

Until then, the 107-year-old building will sit empty.