The Grand (Calgary)
|Sherman Grand Theatre
Sherman Grand Opera House
The Grand Theatre
|Address||608 1st Street SW
|Opened||1912; reopened 2006|
|Architect||L. R. Wardrop|
What is now known as Theatre Junction GRAND, and once referred to simply as the Grand, is part of the Lougheed Block, which was built in 1912 by Sir James Lougheed, when Calgary had a population of only 50,000. The architect was L. R. Wardrop, and it was owned by Lougheed and Taylor, a firm established by Senator Sir James Alexander Lougheed, KCMG, PC. It was built as a multi-purpose commercial building, accommodating retail stores, offices, living quarters and on the ground floor, the Sherman Grand Theatre. The Grand was the biggest and best theatre in the Pacific Northwest attracting stars like Sarah Bernhardt, Fred Astaire, Ethel Barrymore, the Marx Brothers, George Burns, Arthur Rubinstein, and Paul Robeson, among others. It was also known as The Sherman Grand Opera House.
The Grand was also the centre of Calgary's social and political life and the venue for political rallies, debates and speaking engagements. Both the Liberal and Conservative Parties held rallies here, as well as speakers such as Nellie McClung of the "Famous Five", Prime Minister Robert Borden, and Premier William Aberhart.
The original theatre had 1,350 seats upholstered in green leather with 810 on the main floor and 540 in the gallery and boasted the largest stage in Canada when it opened. The theatre was very modern for its time – all 15 of the changing rooms below the stage had hot and cold water as well as electric lighting. The theatre was even equipped with an automatic sprinkler system. In 1957 with the opening of The Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, The Grand became primarily a movie house, an incarnation that lasted for almost 50 years.
The Grand and Theatre Junction now
In 2005, Theatre Junction Society raised $12 million to purchase The Grand and saved it from demolition. Theatre Junction and its visionary artistic director Mark Lawes turned the old theatre into Calgary's culturehouse for contemporary live arts. Now, after nearly 50 years and several incarnations, Western Canada's oldest theatre, is once again home to theatre, dance, music and film.
The Flanagan Theatre is a multi-form space that can be configured into eight different seating layouts with a capacity of up to 440 people. The theatre can be used for corporate and private events, all of which contribute to the financial sustainability of Theatre Junction at The Grand.
- James Alexander Lougheed
- Calgary Public Library. "Grand Theatre (Lougheed Building)". Retrieved 2008-01-10.[dead link]
- Ward, Tom (1975). Cowtown : an album of early Calgary. Calgary: City of Calgary Electric System, McClelland and Stewart West. p. 459. ISBN 0-7712-1012-4.