Architectural Style: Queen Anne Revival
From 1915-35 this was the home of one of Calgary’s most significant pioneers George C. King. King was a major figure in Calgary’s history and was known as Calgary’s `First Citizen’. He was widely acknowledged as being the first member of the original North West Mounted Police contingent to set foot on the Calgary site in 1875 and remained a citizen of Calgary until his death in 1935.
King contributed to Calgary’s development in a number of ways. From 1877-83 he was the manager of the I.G. Baker store – an important commercial enterprise in early Calgary – before opening a well-known store himself. King became Calgary’s second postmaster, an important government appointment that he held from 1885-1921. He also served as Calgary’s second mayor from 1885-87 and a Town Councilor from 1889-90 and 1891-93. In 1934 King was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his service in the development of the district.
The 1911 King Residence is significant for its contribution to the earliest residential, suburban development in Parkdale. It is one of five distinctive, red-brick houses developed in 1911-12 on the east side of 37 St. by another Calgary pioneer Alfred S. McKay. The King Residence is one of a small number of houses (about one dozen) in Parkdale that represent the major economic and development boom in Calgary from 1910-13. During this period, the city grew at an incredible pace and annexed much of what would become Parkdale in 1910. The area was subdivided in 1910-11 into Parkdale and Parkdale Addition by the real-estate development firm Scott and Hartronft, who envisioned the development of a professional-class suburb accessible by streetcar.
During this period many homes in Calgary were built on a speculative basis including these houses in Parkdale. Parkdale gained streetcar service in 1911 – a move expected to support the community’s continued growth. However, a major economic downtown in 1913, followed by the First World War halted community development until the early 1950s.
The King Residence is also notable for its close association with its developer, Alfred S. McKay, one of Calgary’s most prominent pioneers. Originally, McKay owned the property between 37 and 29 Streets that was subdivided as Parkdale Addition. He planned to develop numerous houses there for speculative purposes however only five houses were built, including the King Residence.
The King Residence is valued for its understated Queen Anne Revival style architecture and is one of only four examples of this style in Parkdale. A characteristic of this style is the hipped roof with lower cross gables that contain ornamental half-timbering. Brick and sandstone were used for the home’s construction and these were obtained locally from the Crandell Pressed Brick and Sandstone Company across the Bow River. Front verandas as well as the high-quality materials set the house apart from the large number of wood-construction houses built in Calgary at the time. These attractive features served to give the King Residence and the four other houses a show-home quality that was intended to attract professional-class buyers to the new subdivision as well as set the tone for development.
The King Residence is an integral component of the collection of historic houses that line 37 Street. This striking and historic streetscape reflects Parkdale’s initial development as an urban community and serves as an important aesthetic asset to the community.