. general motors co. warehouse
834 11 Ave SW
The Calgary General Motors building was a symbol of General Motors challenge to the Ford dominance of the auto industry. Built in 1931, it was built across the street from the 1922 Ford building. It was built in a similar style and scale, practically mirroring the Ford building on the west side of 8th street.
In 1931 Ford Model A sales dropped drastically from 2 million to 1 million as the depression began to take hold of North America. But GM’s Chevrolet sales only dropped by 5%, as General Motors, the younger company, took over the market. While Ford continued to concentrate on lowering production costs, GM began to realize that buyers no longer simply wanted the most basic cheapest models – they wanted sleak cars with power, style, and prestige.
The building features a simple yet strong design, simplified classical design. It has spandrels between the first and second floors recessed between vertical piers, giving the building extra strength to support the weight of the cars. The building is primarily made of brick.
Like the Ford building, it’s location on 11 Avenue is not by accident. The alley between 11th and 10th avenues used to accommodate a branch train line which would load and unload directly from the loading docks of the warehouses on 10th and 11th avenues. The alleyway is extra wide and the loading docks and doors from that era built to scale for freight train cars can still be seen. The original doorways on the GM building have been modified on the building, but their previous ability to accommodate cars and trucks is hinted at.
General Motors occupied the building until the mid-1950s when they moved out of the city core to a location on Blackfoot Trail. Following GM, a number of firms have used the building, including the Dominion Construction Company and Admiral Graphics. The building is now home to a “Brewsters Brewing Company”; the Brewsters chain began in 1989 in Regina, and this is their first Calgary location.
Calgary Heritage Authority, Building Summary 05-103
Saunders, Harry. “Historic Walks of Calgary”. 2005, Red Deer: Red Deer Press 271-272
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