Council designates 1975 Calgary home as historical resource

Gail Anderson's home is the youngest building on the municipal list that includes other edifices such as Lougheed Building and the Glenmore Water Treatment Plant.

'I think it's important that we save some of the key architecture from our history,' said home owner

Calgary City Council approved the bid for a 41-year-old Mount Royal home to become the youngest building recognized as a municipal historic resource on Monday. 

The house at 1013 Royal Ave. S.W. is an example of West Coast Modern-style architecture, according to the assessment report.

Gail Anderson owns and lives in the home and said she would rather see the building's price possibly decline with the designation, than to see it bulldozed later when she sells it. 

"I think it's important that we save some of the key architecture from our history," Anderson told The Calgary Eyeopener. "Calgary is a 20th-century city. It's not a Victorian city. You know, people always thinking historical, 'well it's got to be a really old house,' but I think we want to save some of the best design from every era."

Currently there are 64 properties in Calgary with municipal historic resource status, 90 per cent of them built after 1900. Other buildings on the list include the Glenmore Water Treatment plant, built in 1933, and a mid-century home in Elboya, finished in 1953.

The designation makes the property eligible to apply for conservation grant funding from The Alberta Historical Resources Foundation Conservation Grant Program, and it also ensures future changes and conservation work in the home aligns with best practices in heritage conservation.

A tropical oasis

The Anderson Residence, as the home is referred to in city documents, was described as a "tropical oasis"  by the CBC's Falice Chin, when she went on a tour of the building. 

Most noticeably upon entering the home, you see its open-concept living room with a skylight and atrium filled will all kinds of plants, including bougainvillea and jacaranda. 
The Anderson Residence in Calgary's Mount Royal neighbourhood is best known for is impressive atrium. (Falice Chin/CBC)

"We didn't really know what would grow 40 years ago because there weren't many atriums in those days. So we talked to the people at the zoo and we just tried different things," Anderson said. 

The amount of plant life in the house makes it more humid and comfortable, she added. 

Attention to detail

Anderson's attention to detail in the decor of the home also sets it apart. Among the many imported adornments are hand-made Mexican tiles. A novelty when the house was built, Anderson said.

"The architect took studies of the sun so that at midday the sun... is coming right through the centre [of the skylight]," Anderson said.

The main living room windows also overlook Calgary's skyline. 

"Of course when the house was built, that skyline wasn't there." 
Gail Anderson has spent years collecting the art she displays in her home. She says collecting art is a life-long endeavour and shouldn't be rushed by trying to match it to your furniture. (Falice Chin/CBC)

Anderson's tips for homeowners

1. Be selective when it comes to decor

Anderson recommended not rushing the purchase of art. Develop a taste and let your art reflect your personality.

"Have a feel for the kind of place you want," she said. "You want to buy things you just love and it will reflect your character."

"Don't buy it because it matches the sofa."

2. Bars are a must

Anderson has had great success as a hostess in her home and recommends keeping people out of your kitchen. 

Her secret is a well-stocked drink cart in her living room. 

"A bar is important," she said. 


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