The Mauro Gallery

The Mauro Gallery

On April 9, 2018, St. Mary’s University opened the doors to a unique new space — The Mauro Gallery — within the historic Water Tower on the StMU campus.

This amazing new space was made possible by a generous donation from Tom and Debra Mauro, whose commitment to the university and the initiatives on campus has helped ensure that StMU continues to provide innovative new spaces and opportunities for students and the community.

The public is welcome to make an appointment to view The Mauro Gallery and its collections. In some cases, you may need to make an appointment at least two weeks in advance. If you are interested in booking an appointment to view The Mauro Gallery please email

History of the Water Tower

The Water Tower at St. Mary’s University is without a doubt one of Calgary’s most prominent landmarks. It stands as both a symbol of the city’s heritage and a modern-day beacon for inclusion and community. Originally built in 1921 on the Midnapore site in Fish Creek Park, the Water Tower supplied much-needed water for the growing Father Lacombe Home community. The tower is believed to be the only structure of its kind in Canada, and possibly North America. It stands 73 feet tall and the water tank which sits 52 feet above the ground is 15’-8” in diameter and 16’-8” high. It held up to a ton of water or approximately 8980 litres. For reasons of cost, the tower was made of wood at a time when steel water towers were coming into vogue. As such, it did require regular, and at times extreme, maintenance throughout its lifespan through to the present day. The tower was designated a provincial historic resource in 1979.

St. Mary’s University moved onto the Father Lacombe/Midnapore site in 1999. Since moving onto this site, St. Mary’s University has remained committed to maintaining the structural integrity of the 100-year-old Water Tower and has initiated a number of key renovations to stabilize the tower, to rid the structure of invasive pests, and preserve the exterior wood. The distinct St. Mary’s Star was added to four sides of the hexagonal tower in 2014, proudly shining over the university campus below. In 2017 the tower received its most significant ‘gift’ since it was first erected: philanthropists Tom and Debra Mauro funded the complete renovation of the interior of the tower. This project has allowed us to restore much of the original interior wood panelling, to heat and better preserve the structure, to remove and restore the two pumps that were needed to circulate the groundwater, and finally, the technology and lighting needed to turn the tower into the most unique art gallery in Canada.

As students, faculty, and staff pass by the Water Tower each day, they are reminded of the rich history and traditions that have shaped St. Mary’s into the remarkable institution it is today. It stands as a testament to the enduring values of community, excellence, and the pursuit of knowledge that define the university’s character.

The Tower Restoration was made possible by a major donation from Tom and Debra Mauro as well as additional funding from the Government of Alberta Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP) and Alberta Historical Resources Foundation Heritage Preservation Partnership Program. 

The Water Tower is not merely a structure; it is a cherished symbol that connects the past, present and future. It serves as a beacon, guiding generations of St. Mary’s University community members, and embodying the spirit of progress, resilience, and the pursuit of excellence.

As St. Mary’s University continues to grow and evolve, the Water Tower stands tall, bridging the gap between the past and the present, and reminding all who encounter it of the university’s enduring commitment to education, community, and the power of collective history.

Tom and Debra Mauro

Tom and Debra Mauro are legendary citizens of Alberta whose philanthropic interests are varied and numerous. Co-chairs of the luxury home building company Albi Homes until 2015, Tom and Debra have always been focused on supporting worthy causes.

Tom spearheaded the first-ever Miracle Homes, raising money for the Alberta Children’s Hospital; the YWCA Sheriff King Home project; and the Native Women’s Shelter. He served as Co-Chair of the Founding Board of the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre. He was inducted into the Canadian Home Builders’ Association Hall of Fame in 2007 and also selected as a Distinguished Alumnus by SAIT in 2009.

Debra is Chair of numerous Boards including the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre and HomeFront, a Calgary organization dedicated to reducing domestic violence. She has been the proud recipient of Canada’s “Top 100 Women Entrepreneurs” distinction and was named one of the “Leading Entrepreneurs of the World” in 2002. In 2005, the Consumers’ Choice Award for Business Excellence named Debra “Businesswoman of the Year.” She is also a proud member of the St. Mary’s University Board of Governors.

Their passion for the arts is especially evident in their work supporting the Canadian Chapter of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums (which Debra Chairs), an organization that supports the restoration and preservation of the precious art heritage forming part of the Vatican Museums for present and future generations.

Their commitment to St. Mary’s University is significant and their gift, which has made possible the restoration of this unique gallery, will have a major impact for years to come.

The Mauro Gallery will hereafter be a meeting place for artists, students, teachers and the community.

Schedule an appointment to see the Mauro Gallery.