Swan's is located in the Carson Block building in the historic Inglewood district of Calgary
The Carson Block: This elegant structure was built by James and Edward Carson, twice! In 1911, Calgary was expanding rapidly, and the original Carson Block was planned to meet the growing demand for retail space and for working class housing. A new construction method - reinforced concrete - was specified by architect David McIlroy. However, before the building was completed, the cement floors collapsed. Reconstruction was completed in 1912.
This incident aggravated a long-standing feud between Building Inspector Richard Harrison and Alderman A.J. Samis. The origins of their conflict related to the construction of the Samis Block on 8th Avenue, but carried over into the committee- chaired by Samis - which investigated the Building Inspector's department in regard to the Carson Block collapse. Tempers flared during the proceedings of the committee, and Mr. Harrison launched punches at Alderman Samis. As the committee was suspending Mr. Harrison for his actions, the Building Inspector resigned.
The Carson Block became city property in 1920 due to non-payment of taxes, and remained so until 1939. A depressed economy in the wake of World War I made the reversion of property to the City a common occurrence. The Inglewood branch of the Calgary Public Library was located in the Carson Block from 1946 to 1953, when commercial uses returned.
The exterior of the Carson Block has retained almost all of its original design, with commercial signs being the only additions in recent years. The classically inspired tripartite facade has projecting end bays, giving the wall surface a wonderful combination of variety and balance. Purple glass blocks found in the sidewalk at each of the entrances let light into the basement level of the building. Carved sandstone swags give an air of elegance to the buildings cornice. The facade was restored by the Inglewood Business Revitalization Zone and the Alberta Main Street Programme; the project received a City of Calgary Heritage Award in 1997.