Named after its first owner, Oscar Grant Devenish, a prominent oil and real estate tycoon in Calgary’s early boom, the Devenish was one of 13 large apartment buildings to spring up in 1911 in order to cater to a population that swelled by 33 per cent in one year.

A building of notable distinction, in its time as an urban apartment complex it was a high-tech showpiece, featuring steam laundry, garbage chutes, central hot water heating and even Murphy beds. In the beginning of the 1980's a transition in The Devenish's mandate occurred with new owners. The building was deemed a historical resource by the province in 1981. A year after, The Devenish was purchased for $2.5 million and converted into a commercial building.

The city followed suit almost 30 years later in 2008. Bob Van Wegen of the Calgary Heritage Initiative, an organization that lobbies for the protection and productive use of architecturally and historical significant sites in the city, says the Devenish is important. “It’s the main landmark on the avenue, it’s the landmark that really defines 17th Ave. and has done so for almost 100 years now,”

About Oscar Grant Devenish
    American, OG Devenish was also an important figure in the border fields as well as Turner Valley. He ws born in Indiana in 1868 and came to Calgary in 1902 from Spokane, Washington to open a brokerage insurance and real estate business. In 1912, one year after creating the Devenish Building on 17 ave, he became the driving force behind a series of syndicates that took out leases in southern Alberta that eventually amalgamated to form United Oils ofAlberta Ltd, destined to be one of the most active firms in southern Alberta before the depression. Devenish did go to the purblic markets for financing and soon drilled in Turner Valley and near Foremost - he also contracted to drill other wells in the Foremost field on behalf of other firms. United Oils became dormant by 1916 and Devenish moved to the Texas oilfields where he was active for a number of yearsin a company called Devenish, Thomas and Ludlow. He returned to Calgary in the 1920's and United drilled a successful well in the border fields of Southern Alberta. In 1926 Devenish formed a new company named after himself and assembled a large acreage in southeastern Alberta which proved to be unproductive. However, further United drilling in Turner Valley was successful and the company survived to be taken over by Home Oil in 1965. Devenish lived until 1951 but unlike his contemporaries was not involved in petroleum development in his later years.
Archives: Nov.1966; vol VII, no.3 'Breen' William Stewart erron father of the pertoleum industy in Alberta, / 1984 Cass, Douglas; Investment in Alberta Petroleum, 1912-1930 MA thesis, U of C,1985