Keeping the Deane House alive after flood destroys interior

The popular Inglewood restaurant, Deane House is off limits after a flood swept through the interior of the 113 year old heritage building. 

The 113-year-old heritage building is an important Calgary landmark

Water spewed throughout the Deane House on Sept. 8 when a sprinkler valve failed in the attic. (Chris Amat)

Popular Inglewood restaurant Deane House is off-limits after a flood swept through the interior of the 113-year-old heritage building. 

Owner Sal Howell has been overseeing cleanup efforts for nearly two weeks after a sprinkler valve failed in the attic and water flooded the restaurant on Sept. 8. 

"It was very eerie the next day. The water had mostly gone but the building is like a sponge and it absorbed all of the water," said the restaurant owner.

She is hopeful the renovations are done before the end of the year, but since it's a heritage building, Howell has to ensure everything is done properly.

Sal Howell, owner of Deane House, says she also experienced damage at her other restaurant, the River Cafe, after the 2013 flood (Terri Trembath/CBC)

"This is a well-loved heritage house that has survived many, many things in its life ... It has been really lovingly restored and it is a big part of this community," she said.

Since the flood, Howell said an array of people have reached out and have offered their support.

"Hearing from everyone about how much [the Deane House] means to them has been very supportive. I think that just keeps us going," she said.

Deane House legacy

The historic Deane House was built in 1906 for the last commanding superintendent of Fort Calgary, Cpt. Richard Deane, and his wife Martha, who sadly passed away before she could join her husband in their new home.

It originally sat near the corner of Ninth Avenue and Sixth Street S.E., facing east toward the barracks, and allowed Deane, a passionate horticulturalist, to tend to the extensive gardens around the house.

In 1929, local entrepreneur C.L. Jacques bought the house and used boats and floatation devices to move it across the Elbow River — an endeavour so remarkable it was featured in a 1930 issue of Popular Mechanics.

It was brought to a new foundation and its current location, facing the Ninth Avenue bridge with the river running on one side.

The Deane House has since been an artists' studio, tea house and after a decade-long conversation with Fort Calgary, it became Howell's restaurant in 2016.

"When we did the renovation, we reused a lot of the wood in the house... but there's layers of material that's been installed since, along with the fire proofing requirements. It all absorbed quite a bit of water," she said.

"I don't know how long it will take to put the house back together but we're committed to doing so."

The Deane House is 113 years old. (Marnie Burkhart)

Heritage Authority responds

Josh Traptow with the Calgary Heritage Authority says the Deane House is a resilient building. 

"We always talk about how heritage properties need to have a use. They can't just sit vacant and for the Deane House, an excellent use for that is a restaurant," he said.

Traptow is confident the Deane House will have another chapter in its life.

"Everyone knows what the Deane house is...this house has seen lots of change and adversity and I know that it will be able to come through this alright," he said.

Josh Traptow with the Calgary Heritage Authority says it's a resilient building. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Paul Rogalski, owner of the restaurant and heritage building "Rouge," says he empathizes and relates to being a keeper of historic landmarks 

"My heart goes out to Sal right now. Just the nature of having a restaurant on its own is a huge accomplishment," he said.

He said that taking care of a historical site as a business owner adds multiple levels of responsibility and meaning.

"Having an old house, you become apart of it …There's the connection with history, and then there's that connection with how things have changed over the years," he said.

Despite the renovations and stress, Howell says that in the hospitality industry, you have to expect the unexpected.

"No one gives you the instruction manual when these things happen," she said.

With files from Julie Van Rosendaal and Terri Trembath


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