What's the Story Behind the Cecil Hotel?

Posted by Justin Havre on Friday, February 20th, 2015 at 7:51am.

Question Mark - Image Credit: http://pixabay.com/en/users/Rednic-416086/

The Cecil Hotel is one of Calgary’s most notorious hotels. It’s 100 years old and has become a city landmark. It reminds locals of a simpler time and gives them a piece of history to walk by whenever they’d like.

Located at 4th Avenue S.E. and 3rd Street S.E. since 1912, the 57 room hotel was designed to accommodate blue collar workers in the east end as well as travellers. Today the hotel is being sold to the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation for an unknown use of the site. What is the story behind the Cecil Hotel?

Built in 1912

C.J. Cote and H.P. Bell opened the hotel in 1912 at the corner of 4th Avenue S.E. and 3rd Street S.E. It contained 57 rooms and a beautiful dining area. It opened even before the popular Palliser Hotel which opened in 1914. Cecil Hotel was designed with brick and sandstone and over time contained a grocery store, blacksmith shop, a stable, a café and even a tavern. The tavern wasn’t available until the prohibition era ended in 1924 in which it took of the whole ground floor.

New Owner

In 1938 until 1967, A.E. Cross took over as owner of the site. Cross was a prominent Calgarian who also owned the Calgary Brewing & Malting Company. It was later sold in 1968 to Leo Silberman and Saul Rosenbaum and became a popular meeting spot for the lesbian community softball teams in the 60s. The hotel actually closed in 2008 because of a bad reputation and being considered a threat to public safety.

What was the reputation?

In 1979, two employees for murdered for $100 in the till and in ’82 a fire occurred on the top floor because of a careless smoker. Six people ended up in the hospital due to the fire. Eventually the hotel gained a reputation as being a drug dealing spot.

People were actually called 1,700 times in the last year it was open. When a 23 year old man was stabbed, the hotel’s tavern had its license revoked and the police calls nearly stopped for this area after that.

The city bought the build from Silberman in 2008 and it is now selling it to the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation. They’ve discussed making it a retail space or affordable housing but this will depend on the interior state.

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