REACH BLOCK HISTORIC CONSERVATION
Fort Macleod, Alberta
The main street of Fort Macleod, Alberta retains many historic landmarks and sites including the much loved Empress Theatre, drawing tourists and hobbyists from all over Western Canada. Across from the Theater is the 1907 Reach Block, which housed the operation of a general store with its attractive facade. Having been updated in the 1970s with flagstone, the original sandstone facade lay beneath it before being reborn in 2014.
Charles James Reach established the commercial store ‘Reach & Co.’ in 1886 in a wooden framed structure - it burnt down on December 6th, 1906. Excavation began on a new two-storey commercial store which would cost $25,000 to build – MacLachlan & Lambert were the contractors. The building included a portion of the basement to extend under the front sidewalk, which was a new feature of commercial buildings at the time in Fort Macleod. Reach’s operated as a commercial store into the 1990s before closing down.
The historic building underwent an extensive conservation and conversion project in the summer of 2014. Antique collector and enthusiast Peter Maas acquired the property in 2011, casting a vision for renewed retail space and loft condos above. With an eye for detail, historic pieces were refitted or replaced to create a unique historic conversion synthesis. The condos benefit from the building’s spaciousness and the many beautiful historic details.
The retail space provides prime real estate for the entrepreneur. The town of Fort Macleod has provided many improvements to the main street, creating an inviting stop for travellers. The storefront design mimics the original windows, drawing shoppers and visitors. Leveraging expertise in historic restoration, the client/architect team successfully transitioned the building into another century of commerce.