“Then & Now” columns appeared weekly in the Calgary Herald between 2002 and 2005. The following article appeared August 20, 2003.
Oddfellows' Temple 517 Centre St. S.W.
Then: Oddfellows' Temple
• The Oddfellows' order, dedicated to philanthropic goals, originated in 16th-century England. Alberta's pioneer lodge, Alberta Lodge No. 1 of the Independent Order of Oddfellows (IOOF), was organized in Calgary in 1884. By 1909, the organization had grown to four lodges with an affiliated membership of more than 750, including the Rebekahs (ladies' lodges). The IOOF temple designed by architect D.S. McIlroy cost $89,000 to build and was dedicated in February 1913 "to the business of Oddfellowship, the dissemination of friendship, love and truth, and to the diffusion of love and charity in the fullest to all those worthy members." Since the IOOF temple was on the upper floor, the order rented office and street- level commercial space to a variety of tenants including (in 1914) Charles Hayes architect, Calgary Oil Stock Exchange, Supply Company Grocers, tailors and real estate agents. The only major renovation prior to the 1971 sale of the building to J.N. Parry was an upgrade of the manually operated elevator.
Now: Calgary Chamber of Commerce
• After renting space at various Calgary locations for 88 years, the Calgary Chamber of Commerce bought the Oddfellows' Temple in the spring of 1978 for $750,000. They spent an additional $1.6 million restoring the historic building, converting it into a centre for chamber activities. Through an unprecedented arrangement (for the times), approved by city council, the chamber sold the "air rights" above the former Temple building to Petro-Canada, allowing the company to extend the smaller of its proposed twin towers to 35 floors from 31. The $2,491,995 raised by the sale financed the purchase and restoration of the historic building. The Chamber of Commerce building was declared a Provincial Historic Resource in 1987.