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These are the Devenish Apartments. Built in 1911, they are a beautiful example of Calgary architecture prior to World War One. Optimism was at an all-time high and builders could hardly keep up with the demand for housing. Designed by renowned Calgary architect Alexander Pirie, the Devenish is unique in many ways. For one, it was one of the first apartment blocks in Calgary built with a reinforced concrete frame, as were the Anderson apartments nearby on 18th Avenue. That allowed more light to come in which you can still notice inside the building. For another its original facade was shaped like a castle complete with crenelated turrets at the corners. As well, the wooden balconies were supported by huge handcrafted brackets instead of columns. The apartments were built by Oscar Grant Devenish, a real-estate agent and oilman from Spokane, Washington. The buildings architect, Pirie, probably drew on his Scottish roots when making the plan. The Devenish was a luxury apartment complex and boasted of being the largest and most modern apartment block in the West. The building was steam heated and had its own steam laundry. As well, garbage was incinerated odourlessly in the basement. The Devenish certainly attracted the right people, a rapidly growing group of entrepreneurs and managers. The building retains its thick sandstone window-sills and lintels by the original turrets, seen here, have long since been lobbed off. Still it is a vibrant part of the neighbourhood and exists today as retail and office space. The Devenish was designated a Provincial Historic Resource in 1981.


  • “Black and white photograph of the view of the Devenish apartments from the intersection of 17th ave. and 8th street SW in Calgary, AB.” PC_1271

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Image Sources(Click to expand)

Post Cards from the Past Collection, Calgary Public Library