Manie Opera Society

The Manie Opera Society in Lethbridge, Alberta is on the 2017 Top 10 Endangered Places List. 

Created by the National Trust for Canada

June 8, 2017

Location 

Lethbridge, Alberta

Why it matters

Built around 1907, the Manie Opera Society (also known as the Kwong On Lung Building) is the oldest building in downtown Lethbridge’s Chinatown district and has served as a grocery, household goods store, and restaurant. The two-storey, flat roofed, stucco commercial building speaks to Chinese emigration to southern Alberta in the 1880s and 1890s and the once thriving Chinese Canadian commercial neighbourhood. The Manie Opera Society was designated as a municipal historic resource in 2014.  

Why it’s endangered 

In 2013, the City of Lethbridge declared the Manie Opera Society structurally unsafe following a heavy rain. The current owner – son of the original builder/owner and also owner of the historic Bow On Tong Building (1919) next door – does not have the funds to repair the building and is reluctant to sell. The “Save Chinatown Lethbridge” community group, Downtown Lethbridge Business Revitalization Zone, and other community voices, have been actively trying to bring attention to and find a rehabilitation solution for this exceptional and imperiled heritage property.

Every year, the National Trust publishes its Top 10 Endangered Places List as part of its mission to raise awareness of the value that historic places bring to quality of life, local identity and cultural vitality.

First published in 2005, the Top 10 Endangered Places List has become a powerful tool in the fight to make landmarks, not landfill. The National Trust believes that historic places are cornerstones of identity, community and sense of place, yet every year, more are lost due to neglect, lack of funding, inappropriate development and weak legislation. By shining a spotlight on places at risk, the Top 10 Endangered Places List raises awareness about their plight and bolsters the efforts of local advocates working to save them.

Skip social share links

Related to Historic Sites