Lacombe Main Street
Flat Iron Building
(Designated a Provincial Historic Resource on January 16, 1990)

Historical Summary: The Lacombe Flat Iron Building was constructed in 1903-1904 by the Merchants Bank. The Merchants Bank originally opened for business in Lacombe on February 28, 1901.  The arrival of the Merchants Bank was recognition of Lacombe’s development following the construction of the Calgary and Edmonton Railway in 1891.  The passage of the railway through the town not only created the triangular shaped block on which the “flatiron” building is the most prominent feature, it also gave vitality to its business sector.  In addition to being on the main north-south transportation corridor through the province, Lacombe also was the terminum of the Canadian Pacific Railway line running east from Central Alberta to Winnipeg.  Therefore, Lacombe’s central location provided convenient passenger and freight connections to the major centres in the province and to eastern Canada.

The building opened in 1904 and served as the only financial institution in the area until the construction of the adjacent Union Bank in 1907.  The decision to build with fire-resistant materials proved wise as a fire in 1906 razed the remainder of the business block.  As a result, all new construction in the block followed the bank’s example.

The Merchant Bank (Flat Iron Building) was certainly Lacombe's most sophisticated and commanding structure.  Designed in the Beaux Arts tradition of classically-inspired architecture, it cost $30,000 to build in 1904.  The design, however, set this structure apart; specific classical features includes the giant order pilasters or simulated columns which run through the second and third stories, a cornice along the top of the structure and scallop-shaped hood over the main entrance.  The three-storey “flatiron” building is unique in the Town of Lacombe and the oldest of three such structures built in western Canada.