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Downtown building given historic designation

A downtown commercial building has become the 30th municipal historic resource in the city.

The new owner of the three-storey Whitney Block at 411 3 Ave. S is near Galt  applied for historic designation and worked with the Historic Places Advisory Committee on a statement of significance. Council voted to approve the designation at its Feb. 13 meeting.

“The Whitney Block’s rich commercial history attests to the continued commercial viability of the building given its key location in the downtown area, its large capacity, and its attractive design,” says Ross Kilgour, senior community planner. “We are pleased that council has approved this designation and are also thrilled that the owner is working on bringing new life to this important building.”

The building dates back to 1907, when rancher David J. Whitney built it to house himself and his business, Whitney Real Estate.

The building was designed by Medicine Hat architect William T. Williams. Originally, it had a sign on the top parapet which read “Whitney Block.”

The Whitney Block fulfilled demand for office space in the early 20th century and is associated with commercial growth in the city.

It originally stood on its own and now has another building attached to it. It has housed hotels, a restaurant, residences, an upholstery shop O’Riley’s Irish Pub, and one of the first queer theatres known variously as Bordello, Club Didi’s and Theatre Outré. The Whitney Block was last home to The Owl, before it moved east to a different location on 3 Avenue.

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