City aims to protect more historic homes with new grant

The city is moving toward protecting more homes as heritage properties.

Up to 15 per cent of property value can be returned as restoration grant

Architect Mark Erickson in the 1911 bungalow he and his firm, Studio North, are restoring in Parkdale. (CBC)

The city is moving toward protecting more homes as heritage properties.

This 1911 craftsman-style bungalow in northwest Calgary's Parkdale district had a well in the basement for water, its new owners discovered. (CBC)

A new grant program aims to encourage property owners to consider accepting an historic resource designation. If they do so, up to 15 per cent of the home's assessed value could be returned as a restoration grant.

"I think that's really for telling a story of how Calgary has developed and how it's changed over the years, to still have this in place and to stand as an artifact of Calgary's past," said Mark Erickson, a local architect whose firm Studio North recently purchased a 1911 craftsman-style bungalow in Parkdale.

The Withrow residence was the first home built in the new northwest district, which was billed as a street-car suburb for the well-heeled. 

Since the house was so far from the city, it had a water-well in the basement, Erickson discovered.

"It was almost like an archaeological dig, pulling back layers of history," he said.

Erickson said the former owner of the property insisted on a meeting before she sold the property, seeking assurance that it would be restored.

"Because for her it was really important that this house was maintained, and kept as a heritage home," he said. 

Under the new program, Erickson and the firm could claim up to $100,000 toward the restoration, provided that the building's exterior is preserved along with some unique interior finishes and hardware.  

Erickson said the firm plans to preserve the well and a river-rock fireplace that was also found in the basement hidden behind a wall.

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