In 2016, Hunter Heggie and a friend decided they were not going to let the building across from Heggie’s business, The King of Trade, get knocked down.
Heggie decided to buy the building and renovate it.
He said he was a bit shocked at how run-down it was at first when he embarked on the project.
“Even now, when I look back at pictures, it’s hard for me to remember how poor it was,” Heggie said.
“It was literally slated for demolition because it was a hazard. It was falling down and the structure was crumbling.”
Heggie has a passion for small business, for the city of Lethbridge and for old buildings, so saving the Oliver Building was a natural fit.
“To buy a building like this and save it, you have to have some love of the city… and the history of the building,” he said.
Belinda Crowson with the Lethbridge Historical Society said the Oliver Building has been a staple of the downtown since the 1800s.
“(There were) buildings constructed in 1899, 1906 and 1910 that were then added together in 1919 into the beautiful building we have today,” she said.
Now that the renovations are complete, the entire building is full of tenants.
“In the basement, there… (are) two residential spaces,” Heggie said. “On the main floor, there is one residential, four retail, and upstairs there… (are) nine office spaces.”
He added that he is thrilled about is the amount of women entrepreneurs who are utilizing his building.
“These are, like, kick-ass women — getting-it-done kind of women — who have great ideas and are willing to take a chance and open a business,” Heggie said.
Crowson noted the roots of pioneering women run deep in the Oliver Building.
“Miriam Barber, the first woman dentist in Lethbridge, had her office in that building,” she said.
The building has once been an opera house and it was where the first motion picture was ever shown in Lethbridge. Now, after its major facelift, Heggie said it will be around to continue building on its history.
“The building is 120 years old and I know, and everybody else knows, it will be here 120 years from now, so that makes me happy,” he said.