History of The GRAND Theatre
The Lougheed block, which houses The GRAND, was built in 1912, when Calgary had a population of only 50,000. It was built as a multi-purpose commercial building, accommodating retail stores, offices, living quarters and the Sherman Grand Theatre. This year also marked the first Calgary Stampede, as the population of the city exploded due to high employment opportunities in various industries.
Initially hosting touring productions and vaudeville, the Sherman Grand, soon evolved into the most renowned theatre in the Pacific Northwest. The theatre has a storied past. As the biggest theatre in Western Canada it attracted stars like Sarah Bernhardt, Fred Astaire, Ethel Barrymore, the Marx Brothers, George Burns, Arthur Rubinstein, Paul Robeson, among others. Both the Liberal and Conservative Parties held rallies here, as well as speakers such as Nellie McClung of the “Famous Five”, Prime Minister Robert Borden and Premier William Aberhart.
The original theatre had 1,350 seats upholstered in green leather with 810 on the main floor and 540 in the gallery. The theatre was very modern for its time – all 15 of the changing rooms below the stage had hot and cold water as well as electric lighting. The theatre was even equipped with an automatic sprinkler system. In 1957 with the opening of The Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, The Grand continued as a movie house, an incarnation that lasted for almost 50 years.