The Sherman Grand Block
Courtesy City of Calgary, Discover Historic Calgary
1912 must have been a heady year for our forebears – just look at the number of organizations and buildings that are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year. One of my favourite buildings and an encouraging heritage success story is the Sherman Grand Opera House, built by Senator James Lougheed. The Grand opened its doors on Monday February 5, 1912, with the play “The Passing of the Third Floor Back” with Johnston Forbes-Robertson.
More than the opening of a theatre, the Sherman Grand represented all that was optimistic in the boom town Calgary of the 1910s. Performers came from all over the world to play the Sherman Grand: Sarah Bernhardt, Sophie Tucker, Ethel Barrymore and Burns and Allen all played the Grand. The Grand was also the site of many important political rallies and speeches.
Things looked a little grim for the old girl – a development permit for a 22 storey office tower was granted in 2000. But in 2003, the property was purchased by a developer who strove to restore the façade and what was left of the interior of the old building to its original glory. It now functions as a ‘culturehouse’ under the auspices of Theatre Junction. It is a wonderful use for what was once Calgary’s social and cultural centre.