Architectural Style: Arts and Crafts
The 1912 Grant Residence is significant for its contribution to the earliest residential, suburban development to occur in Parkdale. It is one of five, distinctive, red-brick houses developed 1911-12 on the east side of 37 St. N.W. by Calgary pioneer Alfred S. McKay. This assembly of houses, along with six others concentrated within the 3100 – 3300 blocks of Parkdale Boulevard constitute two original groupings of development that defined Parkdale until the end of the Second World War.
The Grant Residence is one of only a small number of houses (about one dozen) in Parkdale to represent the major economic and development boom to occur 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 streetcar suburb. During this period many homes in Calgary were being built on a speculative basis including these houses in Parkdale. Though Parkdale gained streetcar service in 1911, presumably assuring it continued growth, a major economic downtown occurred in 1913, followed by the First World War, halting development of the community until the early 1950s. As such, the Grant Residence recalls an important period in Calgary’s history of economic optimism, expansion and initial suburban development.
The Grant Residence is notable for its close association with its developer, Alfred S. McKay, one of Calgary’s earliest and most prominent pioneers. McKay was a well-known rancher and farmer who homesteaded across 37 St. N.W. at Point McKay in the 1880s. McKay is remembered as a member of the original survey party that chartered the route of the C.P.R. across the prairies and Rocky Mountains, and as a ferry operator on the Bow River from 1882-87. Originally, McKay owned several quarter sections adjoining his homestead, including the property between 37 and 29 Streets N.W. that was subdivided as Parkdale Addition by Scott and Hartronft. McKay had planned to develop numerous houses in Parkdale Addition for speculative purposes yet only five houses were ever built, including the Grant Residence. McKay retained all of the houses until his death in 1940 despite his original intentions.
The house was owned by McKay’s granddaughter until 1954 but had been occupied by the Grant family since 1936 when William H. Grant, a steamfitter – who lived elsewhere in Parkdale from the early 1910s – first rented the house. Members of the Grant family occupied and owned the house until 2005, likely making the Grant’s family’s tenure in Parkdale unequalled.
The Grant Residence is also valued for its Arts and Crafts architecture, and is one of the few examples of this style in Parkdale. Characteristic of the style are the mock half-timbered gables and clipped-gable roof. Significant is the use of brick and sandstone for the home’s construction which was obtained locally, with brick from the Crandell Pressed Brick and Sandstone Co. at Brickburn. These high-quality materials set the house apart from many of other houses constructed in Calgary at the time, which were mostly of wood construction. Other distinctive features of the house, built by Johnson Bros. contractors, include its spacious, two-storey plan and full-width front veranda with second-story sleeping porch. These attractive features served to give the Grant Residence and the four others a ‘show-home’ quality that was surely intended to attract professional-class buyers to the new subdivision and set the tone for development.