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Architect William M. Dodd

William Marshall Dodd, winner of the commission to design City Hall

In March 1907, Calgarians heralded the news that, after many years of debate, their city was to have a new city hall at last.1 Without further delay, city council announced a design competition for the combined civic building and police station. Council received eight submissions from across Canada, but it awarded first prize to William Marshall Dodd (1872–1949), whose design they considered "very much superior" to the rest. 2

Business card of Architect William M. Dodd Dodd was born in Ontario in 1872. 3 Though it was rumoured he was a plasterer by trade, 4 Dodd had allegedly studied architecture under R.T. Pope.5 In 1900 he began working in Calgary, where he completed several commercial, residential, and public buildings, including the sandstone Alexandra and Central (later James Short) Schools. He was well known across western Canada and served as vice president of the Alberta Association of Architects from 1907 to 1908. Dodd also maintained a branch in Regina where he completed the Regina City Hall, with associate Edward Collis (E.C.) Hopkins (1857–1941), in 1907.6

Hopkins had resigned from his post as provincial architect of Alberta in 1907 to become Dodd’s partner.7 He had previously worked in eastern Canada and the U.S., where he would have come into contact with the work of Henry Hobson (H.H.) Richardson (1838–1886), an influential architect known for his interpretation of the European Romanesque Revival style, which came to be known as Richardsonian Romanesque.7 Hopkins may have therefore influenced Dodd’s use of the Richardsonian Romanesque style; however, there is no evidence that he was directly involved with the design of Calgary’s City Hall.9

Dodd’s vision for Calgary’s City Hall was sophisticated and ambitious—but it also had a distinct advantage over the other submissions: with Regina’s City Hall near completion, Dodd was confident in his cost estimates. As construction progressed, however, the original plans had to be stripped back to bring the project within budget.10 Then, in the spring of 1909, cost over-runs and a major dispute with the contractor, the Alberta Building Company, eventually ended Dodd’s role in the project.

In April 1909, the City put a bylaw before ratepayers for additional funds to complete City Hall,11 but the bylaw was voted down.12 Dodd held back payment owed to the Alberta Building Company, who walked off the job in protest. The contractor was consequently dismissed and initiated a legal suit against the City.13 The City took possession of the unfinished structure, and construction resumed with architect Dodd as superintendent.14 However, while the case between the Alberta Building Co. and the City lingered in court, attention soon turned to Dodd’s own conduct in managing the project. City council appointed Aldermen John W. Mitchell (1872–1952), James A. Hornby (1861–1944), and Richard Brocklebank (1864–1916) to form a special committee to look into the project finances.15 Unable to sort out the value of work that had been done, or estimate the remaining costs, the committee hired the General Appraisal Company of Seattle to draw up a report.16

When the report came back in early November, things did not look good: The Alberta Building Company had been paid some $105,000 for work estimated at only $85,000.17 The City Hall Committee called on Dodd to explain. At first he was silent, rebuffing reporters and evading a special meeting in favour of a night out at the movies.18 Finally he met with council, claiming in his defense that the Seattle company’s appraisal was simply too high, and that the Alberta Building Company had allowed unreasonable costs, such as paying stonecutters to carve balustrades by hand rather than using the much-cheaper machine method. Unfortunately for Dodd, he had kept no record of such details; after all, what architect could afford to "stand around all the time to count every brick going into the building”?19 Dodd drafted his own report but the City Hall Committee was not convinced, and its members agreed the time had come to let him go.20 On January 20, 1910, the City officially replaced Dodd with the local architecture firm of Hodgson & Bates.21

Dodd severed ties with Calgary in 1910 and moved to Vancouver,22 where he passed away in 1948 at the age of seventy-six.23 His dismissal had ended his involvement in Calgary’s City Hall long before the building’s final completion in 1911. However, the style, materials and construction of the sandstone structure remain the embodiment of Dodd’s vision for Calgary’s City Hall, and the best-known example of his work in Calgary.


References:



[#20] "A Gigantic Scheme for Calgary." The Morning Albertan, 7 May 1907, p.4.

[#57] "Another Architect to Look Over City Hall." Albertan, 4 Jan. 1910, pp.1-2.

[#64] "Architect Makes a Few Explanations" Albertan, 11 Nov. 1909, pp.1, 5.

[#704] CCCRA, Board of Commissioners to City Council, 20 Mar. 1909, City Clerk’s Correspondence, Box 28, File 211 [pdf pp.20-23].

[#639] CCCRA, City Hall Committee Report to City Council, 25 May 1909, City of Calgary Papers, Series IV, Box 22, File 172.

[#656] CCCRA, City Solicitor to Clerk, 26 Jan. 1911, City Clerk’s Correspondence, Box 35, Folder 267.

[#652] CCCRA, City Clerk’s Correspondence, 1909. Box 28, File 215.

[#665] CCCRA, Council Minutes, 20 Mar. 1909, pp.74-76.

[#665b] CCCRA, Council Minutes, 26 Apr. 1909, p.107.

[#663] CCCRA, Council Minutes, 6 May 1907, p.62.

[#668] CCCRA, Council Minutes, 26 May 1909, p.124.

[#670b] CCCRA, Council Minutes, 30 Aug. 1909, p.180.

[#666] CCCRA, Council Minutes, 13 May 1909, p.118.

[#671] CCCRA, Council Minutes, 18 Dec. 1909, p.249.

[#699] CCCRA, Dodd vs. The City of Calgary, 1911-12. City of Calgary Papers, Series IV, File 208.

[#655] CCCRA, Judgment Justice Scott, Supreme Court of Alberta, p.10, City Clerk’s Correspondence, Box 35, File 266.

[#639] CCCRA, Minutes of Special Meeting of City Council, 18 May 1909, p.5, City of Calgary Papers, Series IV, Box 22, File 172.

[#704] CCCRA, New City Hall Correspondence, 1907-1909, Calgary, Alberta. City Clerk’s Department Fonds, Series II (1900-1909), Folder 211.

[#120] "City and District." Lethbridge Daily Herald, 7 Mar. 1910, p.8.

[#138] "City Hall By-Law Carried." The Morning Herald, 13 Mar. 1907.

[#157] "City Hall Judgment Favours Contractor." Calgary Daily Herald, 20 Jan. 1911, p.1.
 
[#199] "City’s Farewell to Architect Dodd." Albertan, 21 Dec. 1909.

[#2003] Floyd, Margaret Henderson. Henry Hobson Richardson: Genius for Architecture. New York: Monacelli Press, 1997.

[#2009] Hill, Robert G. "Pope, R.T.." Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada, 1800-1950. http://dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/node/1740.

[#2011] Hill, Robert G. "Hopkins, Edward Colis" Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada. 2010-15. Accessed 2 Sept. 2015 (http://dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/node/272)

[#311] "It Takes Gasoline To Win The Girl." Albertan, 6 Nov. 1909.

[#391] "Mr. Dodd Did Not Meet The Council." Albertan, 6 Nov. 1909, p. 1.

[#418] "Next Move in City Hall Trouble." Morning Albertan, 27 May 1909, p.1.

[#491] “Say $12,264 is Too Much for the City Hall Tower." Calgary Daily Herald, 17 Apr. 1909, pp.1-2.

[#792] Simpson, L. and Fedori, M. The Practice of Architecture and Construction in Calgary: 1900-1940. (Calgary: [n.p.] 1995).

[#578] "Too Bashful to Talk Before Crowd," Albertan, 9 Nov. 1909, pp.1, 5.

[#598] "Well Known Architect Weds." Daily Herald, 16 June 1904, p.4.

[#734b] William M. Dodd, Registration of Death, Province of British Columbia, 20 Oct. 1948.  


End Note



1William M. Dodd, Registration of Death, Province of British Columbia, 20 Oct. 1948.

2Lorne G. Simpson and Marianne Fedori, The Practice of Architecture and Construction in Calgary: 1900-1940 (Calgary: [n.p.] 1995).

3Robert G. Hill, "Pope, R.T.," Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada, 1800-1950, http://dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/node/1740.

4Ibid.

5Robert G. Hill, "Hopkins, Edward Colis," Biographical Dictionary of Architects in Canada, http://dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/node/272 (accessed 2 Sept. 2015). Hopkins appears on Dodd's letterhead in 1907 as associate architect; see New City Hall Correspondence, 1907-1909, Calgary, Alberta, City Clerk’s Department Fonds, Series II (1900–1909), file 211, 17, City of Calgary, Corporate Records, Archives (CCCRA).

6Margaret Henderson Floyd, Henry Hobson Richardson: Genius for Architecture (New York: Monacelli Press, 1997).

7Hopkins’ name is not reported in connection with Dodd’s winning submission; see "A Gigantic Scheme for Calgary," Morning Albertan, 7 May 1907, 4. There is also no mention of Hopkins in Dodd’s claims for work completed; see for example City of Calgary Papers, deries IV, file 208, 17, CCCRA.

8Board of Commissioners to city council, 20 Mar. 1909, City Clerk’s Correspondence, box 28, file 211, CCCRA.

9Council minutes, 20 Mar. 1909, 74-76, CCCRA.

10 "Say $12,264 is Too Much for the City Hall Tower," Calgary Daily Herald, 17 Apr. 1909, 1-2,

11City Hall Committee Report to City Council, 25 May 1909, City of Calgary Papers, series IV, box 22, file 172, CCCRA; Minutes of Special Meeting of City Council, 18 May 1909, 5, City of Calgary Papers, series IV, box 22, file 172, CCCRA; Judgment Justice Scott, Supreme Court of Alberta, 10, City Clerk’s Correspondence, box 35, file 266, CCCRA; "Next Move in City Hall Trouble," Morning Albertan, 27 May 1909, 1.

12Judgment of Justice Scott, 1.

13Council minutes, 26 Apr. 1909, 107.

14Ibid, 30 Aug. 1909, 180.

15Special City Hall Committee Report to City Council, 1 Nov. 1909, CCCRA.

16 "It Takes Gasoline To Win The Girl," Albertan, 6 Nov. 1909; "Too Bashful to Talk Before Crowd," Albertan, 9 Nov. 1909, 1, 5.

17 "Architect Makes a Few Explanations," Albertan, 11 Nov. 1909, 1, 5.

18 "Mr. Dodd Did Not Meet The Council," Albertan, 6 Nov. 1909, 1; "City’s Farewell to Architect Dodd," Albertan, 21 Dec. 1909; Council minutes, 18 Dec. 1909, 249, CCCRA.

19 "Another Architect to Look Over City Hall," Albertan, 4 Jan. 1910, 1-2.

20 "City and District," Lethbridge Daily Herald, 7 Mar. 1910, 8.

21William M. Dodd, Registration of Death.

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