Flatiron Building (Lacombe, Alberta)
- 1 Flatiron Building - Museum and Interpretive Centre
- 1.1 History of Merchant's Bank and Building
- 1.2 The Flatiron Museum and Interpretive Centre: Themes of displays
Flatiron Building - Museum and Interpretive Centre
The Flatiron building in Lacombe, Alberta is the oldest flatiron building in the province. It was designed by architects Morley Hogle, and Huntley Ward Davis in 1903 and opened for business in 1904. The building served as the Merchants Bank of Canada for many years. For over a century, the infamous 'Lacombe flatiron block' was home to many businesses, law offices, and unique shops. Almost one hundred years after the building was erected, it was privately bought and restored as part of the Alberta Main Street Project. Today, this architectural landmark is one of three historic-themed museums in Lacombe and is home to The Flatiron Museum and Interpretive Centre which showcases didactic displays of Lacombe's local history.
History of Merchant's Bank and Building
The Merchants Bank of Canada was the first bank in Lacombe. Formed in 1901, the bank initlally rented out a room in a local school. Unfortunately, when bank workers arrived to their temporary location, they found it hadn't been fully constructed. In consequence, the bank then rented a room in the local Victoria hotel, where the bank operated shortly for over a week. There is little documentation as to where the bank was located in between the time of the hotel and the opening of its permanent home in the flatiron building.
In 1922, the Merchants Bank of Canada was absorbed by the Bank of Montreal. The Lacombe branch of the Merchants Bank became home to the Bank of Montreal's local branch until 1967.
Restoration of the building in 2001
In 2001, the building was privately bought and extensively renovated. The flatiron building now serves not only as a museum/interpretive center, but as a private residence and corporate offices. The renovations were completed in 2003.
The Flatiron Museum and Interpretive Centre: Themes of displays
Ben Cameron photo studios
The Ben Cameron photo studio display is one of the first things patrons see when they enter the interpretive centre. Ben Cameron was a local photographer and photographic historian for the community in the early 1900s for over four decades. Some of the items that can be seen in the display case belonged to Mr. Cameron; these include antique cameras, glass negatives, and photographs taken/developed at the Ben Cameron Studio.
Historic Downtown – buildings, businesses, train station
Lacombe is infamous for its beautifully preserved Edwardian architecture that lines its main street. Many of these historic brick buildings were erected between 1904 and 1928, just after the turn of the century. The interpretive centre has an area dedicated to Lacombe's historic downtown where visitors can see historic photographs and read about the buildings in the downtown area.
Pioneers and significant people in Lacombe's history
Lacombe would not have grown into today's community without the early settlers and pioneers. In the interpretive centre, there is a small section that is dedicated to those who have helped shape the town into what it is today. These people endured many hardships both in the community and worldwide; breaking land, sowing crops, building a community, fighting fires, natural disasters, world wars and economic catastrophes.
For more than a century, the citizens of Lacombe have been actively involved with sport entertainment, and annual recreational events held at a local gem. As early as the first decade of the 20th century, Lacombe has had an active hockey league, baseball teams, and numerous curling competitions. Artifacts from the Lacombe Rockets hockey team, Lions Club Baseball team can be seen at the interpretive centre. Since the early settlers made their way to the Lacombe area, Gull Lake, located just west of the town has been a popular hotspot for over a century. In the early 1900s, there were several hotels for guests, and some 200 cottages along the lake. Whether it be swimming and boat racing in the summer or skating in the winter, Gull Lake has always been an infamous attraction for members of the community since the very beginning. Pictures and text are on display at the flatiron museum and interpretive centre.
References: Lacombe First Century, Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce, 1982: 33, 269.