One of Lacombe’s most recognizable historic buildings recently landed a special designation.
Late last month, the Flat Iron Building was designated a Municipal Historic Resource and a new plaque was unveiled, said Myles Chykerda, chair of the City’s Heritage Resource Committee.
“It was a celebration and a formal unveiling of the plaque,” he said of the ceremony held Sept. 24.
The designation provides not just special recognition but also a layer of protection as it means the building can never be demolished, he explained. “It’s protected, and particular elements of the building are protected as well.
“Every building that is designated has something called a Statement of Significance that is attached to it,” he said, adding that the designation also makes these buildings like the Flat Iron eligible for various grants which can go towards upkeep.
“We do expect any work to be done in a sensitive manner that matches the historical nature of the building,” he said.
Constructed in 1903-4 by the Merchant’s Bank of Canada, the Flat Iron Building is one of two remaining in Alberta and is the oldest known building of this type in western Canada, according to Historicplaces.ca.
The building was occupied by the Merchant’s Bank of Canada from 1904 until its purchase by the Bank of Montreal in 1922.
The Bank of Montreal continued to occupy the building until 1967.
Meanwhile the Heritage Resources Committee also recently launched a project to update Lacombe’s Heritage Survey & Inventory.
Heritage researchers and community volunteers are scanning Lacombe – updating files, taking photos and recording data – all to help preserve the City’s heritage, noted a release.
Chykerda said that a Heritage Survey is the first step in heritage preservation – identifying which historic resources remain in the community.
“Our mandate is to inform and advise the City on any matter related to historic properties and places. We are not the Lacombe & District Historical Society, so we don’t operate any museum or take in artifacts, etc. We are really about the promotion and designation of (built) history or landscapes – anything in the environment that is of historical significance.
“So right now, a big thing that we are doing is having an update done of what is called the Places of Interest list,” he said.
From there, these places can possibly have a Statement of Significance attached to them.
He noted that hearing people’s stories of various homes or places can lead to some fascinating historical glimpses into a community’s past.
“The significance can also come from the stories behind (these places). For example, maybe there’s a house standing where an early City mayor once lived. It might not be the fanciest or largest building on Main Street, but there is the significance of the role that it played in an individual’s life,” he said.
Meanwhile, a Heritage Inventory is a filtered list of significant resources. Heritage Inventories are typically developed by evaluating sites listed on the Places of Interest List.
The Places of Interest List is a listing of sites that have heritage potential and may require further investigation.
Currently, Lacombe has 109 sites listed on the POIL.
The current update includes reconnaissance, reviewing those 109 sites, and adding new sites to the Places of Interest List.
Sites are added to POIL by recommendations from historians, municipal staff or HRC members and/or specialized heritage researchers. They are also added via community engagement and input.
Local residents are encouraged to watch for a booth or tables to pop up at various community events including the evening of Oct. 13 during the Farmer’s Market at the LMC.
Last month, the Committee also launched the Community Survey. It is available online at Lacombe.ca or in hard copies which are available at the engagement/popup events.
The information will guide both survey work and evaluation and assist in a better understanding of the community’s awareness, interests, and passions for heritage, which is an essential part of the overall project scope.
“We are very fortunate to have strong support from City council in these efforts,” said Chykerda.
“There are also efforts going on with the Downtown Area Redevelopment Plan committee – the DARP committee. In some of the surveys that helped to launch that effort, the answers they were getting really indicated how the historic preservation of the downtown core ranked really high on not only citizens’ radars but also those of tourists.
“So it’s a very important part of what Lacombe is.”