Owner of $9.7M Magrath Mansion opens doors of Highlands home to the curious
'The public pretty much demands it. Everybody I talk to or meet ... says, 'When can I see this house?'
From a sunny spot in his favourite chair on the veranda, Sid Braaksma watches car after car slow down to stare at his house.
The city has assessed the home at $9.7 million according to Braaksma.
But the home has come a long way from when he and his wife of 52-years, Nellie Braaksma, bought the place back in 2000.
"The floor was creaking and peaking and all kinds of spots where it was totally worn. It took a year and a half to renovate," Braaksma recalls.
The mansion, at 6240 Ada Blvd., was sold to the City of Edmonton in the 1930s and, after sitting vacant for a time, was rented as suites before the Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop took up residence in the 1940s.
The property came up for sale again in 2000.
Gardeners are now planting flowers and the painters putting an extra coat of white paint on the railings in preparation for a public open house on July 2.
"I don't mind having the house shown to people at all and having the historical society do this as a fundraiser for them is a great way to do it," Braaksma said.
The Highlands Historical Society is planning buggy rides, a mini classic-car show with some of the vehicles in Braaksma's collection, and a chance for the public to explore the mansion for a donation of $10 per person.
The society is one of 54 community organizations, businesses, churches, and museums involved with this year's Edmonton Historic Festival and Doors Open event which runs July 1-9.
"People don't know a lot about what's going on around them," said festival producer Susan Lacombe. "They walk past buildings all the time and they don't know the rich stories that are around them.
"It can make people more proud of where they live and more knowledgeable about their surroundings."