The Grand (Calgary)
|Sherman Grand Theatre
The Grand Theatre
|Address||608 1st Street SW
|Owner||Theatre Junction Society|
|Opened||1912; reopened 2006|
The Grand Theatre is housed in the historic Lougheed Block, which was built in 1912 by Sir James Alexander Lougheed when Calgary had a population of only 50,000 people. The building was designed by L.R. Wardrop and owned by Lougheed and Taylor, a firm established by Sir Lougheed. The Lougheed Block was built as a multi-purpose commercial building, accommodating retail stores, offices, living quarters, and The Grand Theatre on the ground floor. The Grand was the biggest theatre in the Pacific Northwest at the time and attracted well-known performers such as Sarah Bernhardt, Fred Astaire, Ethel Barrymore, the Marx Brothers, George Burns, Arthur Rubinstein, and Paul Robeson, among others.
The Grand Theatre was also the centre of Calgary's social and political life and served as a venue for political rallies, debates, and speaking engagements. Both the Liberal and Conservative Parties held rallies at the theatre as did Nellie McClung of the "Famous Five," Prime Minister Robert Borden, and Premier William Aberhart.
The original Grand Theatre was fashioned with 1,350 seats (810 on the main floor and 540 in the upper gallery) and boasted the largest stage in Canada when it first opened. The Grand was considered modern for its time as all 15 of the dressing rooms below the stage had hot and cold running water as well as electric lighting. The theatre was also equipped with an automatic sprinkler system. In 1957, with the opening of The Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, The Grand Theatre became primarily a movie house, an incarnation that lasted for almost 50 years.
The Grand and Theatre Junction now
In 2005, local theatre company Theatre Junction Society, raised $12 million to purchase The Grand, thus saving it from demolition. Theatre Junction and its visionary artistic director Mark Lawes transformed the old theatre into what it is today: Theatre Junction GRAND, Calgary's culturehouse for international contemporary performing arts. After nearly 50 years, Western Canada's oldest theatre is once again home to an eclectic array of theatre, dance, music, and film presentations and performances.
- James Alexander Lougheed
- Calgary Public Library. "Grand Theatre (Lougheed Building)". Archived from the original on June 14, 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-10.
- 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.