R.H. Williams Block

 

1926

1411 4 Street SW

R.H. Wiliams immigrated to Calgary in 1915 from England, where, as an expert ladies' tailor, he had made clothing for Queen Alexandra, the wife of King Edward VII. Williams went into partnership with Fred Heath in the Heath Block (615 15 Ave SW), and set up his own ladies' ready-to-wear store, the R.H. Williams Co. Ltd., in 1921.

In 1928 Williams built this two-storey retail and department block in what was, at the time, a rather unlikely spot for a store. The arrival of the Beltline streetcar system made 4 Street a major thoroughfare. RH. Williams was Calgary's first independant dress shop, and soon earned an excellent reputation throughout the city and outlived it's founder by four decades.

The most notable tenent of the apartment level of the building was Eva Reid (1907-1989), the social reporter for the Albertan (predecessor of the Calgary Sun), who lived there in the 1940s and 1950s. Reid has been a youthful devotee of the Social Credit movement and of William Aberhart, Alberta's first Socred premier. She originally wrote for the Social Credit Chronile. A pioneer female journalist, Reid covered the police and society beats concurrently and later wrote a popular column that featured local topics and personalities.

This brick, flat-roofed building is prominently situated on a corner site, where it contributes well to the surrounding streetscape. Details include a leaded glass door, marble tile at the entranceway,  glass blocks below the large storefront windows, as well as entire windows at the sides. The masonry exterior also shows great detail in its alternating brick belt-course detail seen above the doorway. The corner of the building is angled at 45 degrees to provide the main entrance and to better adapt the structure to its site. A raised parapet over the angled corner contributes to the good, simple styling.

 

 

 

 

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