. neilson's furniture warehouse
438 11 Avenue SE
The Neilson Furniture Co., established in 1894 by Hugh Neilson, was typical of many Calgary businesses of the time in that the retail function of the business was conducted in the commercial core (i.e. Stephen Avenue) and the supplementary function of storage was carried out from the warehouse district.
The present building was erected in 1912 to provide additional space for the Company's 8 Avenue operations. A sizeable structure, the warehouse provided 13,488 square feet of storage. Originally erected as a three storey brick building, its facade was treated with paired windows separated by pilaster strips and capped by a corbelled parapet. A common form of warehouse design, the building was constructed to be sturdy and fire resistant. A compatible one storey addition was added to the structure in 1926 in anticipation of a new tenant, the Independent Biscuit Co. The addition retained the original corbelled parapet detailing.
Both early businesses that occupied the building reflect the evolution of Calgary from a small centre to a key player in the Province's economy. Neilson's furniture operation was one of the largest in the city. Neilson himself was a respected community leader and merchant. The Independent Biscuit Co. used the site for their manufacturing operations from 1928 to 1957, and their wholesale trade from 1960 to 1974. The Calgary plant was opened in 1927 and served points across Western Canada. Employing a work force of 125, the business was the city's first manufacturer of biscuits. With over 40,000 square feet of floor space, $200,000 was invested in the plant, which within a year produced over $1,000,000 in revenue. Officers of the company included Henry Shaw, E.E. Peterson, and Daniel O'Rourke. Like many buildings in the warehouse district, the building was used by the furniture industry from the 1970s on (primarily by Alberta Furniture). (1982)
(Calgary Heritage Authority, Building Summary 02-138)