. radio block

 

 

1923

1215 1 Street SW

 

Despite its name, Radio Block has never housed a radio station of any sort. Then why would anyone want to name a building “Radio Block” if it has nothing to do with radio? Because “radio” was a hot buzzword of the 1920’s that evoked images of cutting edge technology and financial progress.

The building was built in 1922, the year that both CFCN and the Calgary Herald’s CFAC began broadcasts in Calgary. Calgarians were excited by the phenomenon of radio coming to Calgary and the name of the building reflects this.

The building itself is unique as it was one of the few buildings built between the World Wars in Calgary. Due to this, the building has a more “modern” look than many of the other historic buildings in the Beltline. This is most evident by the early occurrence of “speed lines” (a design feature that would be popularized in the modernist style) that can be seen at the top of the building rather than an upper cornice.

The building features interesting brick work on its well preserved exterior. Also of note, the building has an angled front entrance - a feature that was very trendy in the 1920’s.

The “Radio Meat Market” occupied one of the storefronts from 1924-1930. And a  1925 directory states that the building once held a “Radio Grocery” and “Radio Shoemaker”. In the 1980’s and 90’s, part of the building was home to the well known “Tasmanian Ballroom” (also known as “The Taz”). More recent occupants have included the Cherry Lounge (a Rap/R & B nightclub), the Castle Pub (a venue well known for being the home of Calgary’s Punk scene), and more recently St. James Pub.

 

References:

Calgary Heritage Initiative

The Connaught-Victoria Heritage Walking Tour (2003) City of Calgary Planning and Building Department

CFAC postcard courtesy of Calgary