. massey-harris warehouse - ribtor
One of several implement warehouses built in Calgary's wholesale district, this 1912 structure was occupied by Massey Harris (renamed Massey-Fergusson in the 1950s) for over 50 years. The building is now occupied by Ribtor Manufacturing & Distrubuting Co., a sporting goods wholesaler.
The Massey Harris warehouse played an important role in the maturation of Calgary's wholesale district. In, 1902, Calgary was given a competitive freight rate advantage by the C.P.R. By 1906, there were 64 wholesale houses around the C.P.R. right-of-way, and at the apex of the boom, when this building was constructed, over 160. Massey Harris, an important national company formed in 1891, favored Calgary as its district centre as early as 1903. Keeping pace with population growth and the demand for agricultural implements by homesteaders, they opened a large distribution centre on 9 Avenue S, designed by architect William Dodd. By 1912, Calgary's office required greater access to spur lines as well as more space. This larger and more modern facility was constructed on 11 Avenue following negotiations with the C.P.R. to open a spur line to the property.
Designed by the Toronto head office, the project was monitored by the local architect, J.A. Cawson. Irregular in plan, the structure consumed four city lots and was four storeys. The brick facade design features elements of both warehousing and reail. The lower level has enlarged windows for display; however, the floor is set up at the height at which the railcars at the rear could be loaded and unloaded. Organization of the facade is in keeping with the Edwardian manner of ordered classicism, with pilasters, corbelled cornice, sandstone plinth, and a horizontal sign band element typical of retail storefronts. In addition to the sale of agricultural products, Massey Harris carried out a light assembly function from the site. Sales also included bicycles, windmills, stoves and engines.
The Head Office for Southern Alberta, the Massey Harris building played a significant role in the Province's agricultural industry. The site is representitive of Calgary's economic development, and an important component of a highly visible grouping of prominent warehouse buildings.
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