A deal has been finalized to save the historic McHugh House — the sixth oldest residence in Calgary.

The city has signed an agreement with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary, which owns the property at 18th Avenue S.W. and Centre Street, to move the building to a piece of land nearby.

The Queen Anne Revival-style house was built in 1896 for John Joseph McHugh, one of three brothers from Ottawa who came to Calgary as pioneers and became prominent ranchers.

The diocese initially told the city the house would have to be demolished or removed from the site by April 6 so its developer could begin a new project on the property.

But the diocese has now agreed to extend that deadline to June 30, which will allow city officials to set up a competitive bidding process to pick a contractor to move the house.

Mayor praises diocese for co-operation

Mayor Naheed Nenshi praised the church for its co-operation.

"The diocese was put in a very difficult position given the timing and the difficulty of moving forward on this and they have been extraordinarily helpful and extraordinarily generous in moving this forward," he said.

City council voted last month to approve up to $450,000 in funding to relocate the house to Humpy Hollow Park at 17th Avenue and Centre Street, beside the Catholic Pastoral Centre.

The McHugh House is worth saving because of its architectural uniqueness — including a gabled roof and a tower topped with a steep turret — and its historical significance to the community, according to the city's historic resources department.

It is also the oldest known house in its original location in the Rouleauville area of the Mission district.

The house was bought by the Catholic Church in 1960, which used it as a group home and for other social agencies in the ensuing years. The house was put on the city's heritage inventory in 1982.

"It is an honour to give McHugh House to the citizens of Calgary,” said Bishop Henry in a written release. 

“The Catholic Church has been a part of Calgary’s history since before the city even existed, and we’re proud to play a role in preserving that history.”