The inspired renovation of the nearly 100-year-old water tower at St. Mary’s University has been recognized as a symbol of Calgary’s heritage and as a modern day beacon for inclusion and community. At a standing-room only ceremony held at the historic Palace Theatre in downtown Calgary, the University was awarded a prestigious Lion Award for Resource Conservation from the Calgary Heritage Authority.
In 2017, with the guidance of Chalmers Heritage Conservation Ltd., St. Mary’s University started renovations to restore the Heritage Water Tower on the St. Mary’s campus. Completion of the restoration and conservation work of the rare 80-foot wooden structure ensured that this landmark would be preserved for the appreciation and enjoyment of current and future generations. The renovations to redevelop this space allowed St. Mary’s the opportunity to redevelop the interior of the tower, including refinishing of the original wood paneling, heating of the structure and meticulous rebuilding of the two pumps once used to circulate groundwater.
The Water Tower has been turned into a unique boutique art gallery thanks to a major donation from Tom and Debra Mauro as well as additional funding from the Government of Alberta Community Facility Enhancement Program and Alberta Historical Resources Foundation heritage Preservation Partnership Program.
As Tom Mauro explained, “Looking at the finished project, I feel that it’s a work of art. It’s not just a water tower.” According to Debra Mauro, the project is “truly genuine. Something that speaks to the heart. To have artists of all backgrounds and genres able to be featured in this building is a testament to what St. Mary’s University is all about.”
“We are so fortunate to have this iconic landmark on the St. Mary’s campus,” said Dr. Gerry Turcotte, President and Vice Chancellor of St. Mary’s University. “But just as importantly, we are fortunate that we were able to realize a vision for this one-of-a-kind building, and that through the Mauros and the Government of Alberta we were able to create a cultural hub that will now serve our wider community.”
The first official exhibition in the new Mauro Gallery — Aisinna’kiiks — was opened during Aboriginal Awareness Week and is dedicated to First Nations and Métis artists and is open to the public for viewing by appointment until mid-September.
Winner in Resource Conservation Public: Water Tower at St. Mary’s University