Respected library building in Calgary honoured with special designation

January 23, 2018 by  

The Memorial Park Library and its surrounding Central Memorial Park have been revered with a national historic site status in downtown Calgary.

Originally built in 1912, this grand building located on 2nd Street Southwest functioned as the main branch of Calgary’s public library system until the location was moved in 1963.

The adjoining Central Memorial Park serves as a beautifully manicured reminder of the history and respectability of the buildings’ past significance.

A group of women led by a recognizable historical figure in Calgary, Annie Davidson, lobbied for years to have the building erected and a free library open to the public established. The women sought to improve the cultural identity of the growing city, and argued that the library would increase the city’s perceived respectability and maturity.

The ladies found the funding courtesy of Andrew Carnegie, a recognizable American philanthropist and successful business owner. Carnegie subsidized the building of a number of libraries across Canada, including three in Alberta.

Parks Canada announced the designation in January, along with 16 other worthy nominees for the honour. Brochures describing the important historical role of the building may be available at the library.

Many other important clubs and events have happened at the classic building, including Calgary’s first art show, and for a time it was the home of the Muttart Art Gallery. The second floor is currently occupied by Wordfest, a well-known literary event promoter.