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Nellie McClung House

Calgary

Other Names:

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Nellie McClung House, built in 1907, is a Tudor Revival style house with an Arts and Crafts style interior. Located in a residential section of Calgary’s Beltline neighbourhood, the house is dominated by steeply pitched roofs, half-timbered gables and several verandas and porches. The property was designated as a Provincial Historic Resource by the Province of Alberta in 1978.

Heritage Value
This property is of heritage value as the home of Nellie McClung (1873-1951), a writer, temperance leader and women’s rights advocate of national significance, as well as being one of Alberta’s earliest female legislators. McClung and her husband Robert occupied the house from 1923-32.

McClung first gained fame as a novelist in 1908, publishing a national best-seller, Sowing Seeds in Danny. While continuing to write, McClung became prominent as a successful campaigner for prohibition, first in Manitoba and then Alberta, moving to Edmonton late in 1914. She is best known as a suffragist, and was instrumental in the fight to secure women the right to vote in Manitoba and Alberta in 1916 by campaigning for the like-minded Liberal party in each province. Later, with four other important Canadian women, together known as the ‘Famous Five’, McClung was at the fore in bringing Canadian women the right to serve in the Senate. In 1927 the Famous Five petitioned for the word “Person” in the British North American Act to include females. This change was enacted in 1929 thereby allowing women the eligibility for appointment to the Senate.

In 1921 McClung was elected to the Alberta Legislative Assembly, becoming one of the first three women to join that body, and one of the first six women to be elected to a provincial assembly anywhere in Canada. McClung served as an Edmonton member in the Alberta Legislature until 1926, despite moving to Calgary in 1923. While residing at this house McClung commuted to Edmonton to sit in the Legislature, returning to Calgary for the weekends. She entertained a variety of personalities of the period in this house including other members of the Famous Five, as well as nationally recognized authors, social reformers and politicians.

McClung was a prolific writer while living here. Working from her second-storey bedroom, she completed books that included Painted Fires (1925), All We Like Sheep (1930), Flowers for Living (1931) and many essays and articles. She also continued to make extensive speaking tours of Canada, the United States and England as an author or activist. Subsequent to her time in Calgary, McClung served as the first woman member of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Board of Governors from 1936-42. She was the only woman member of the Canadian delegation to the League of Nations in Geneva Switzerland in 1938.

The Nellie McClung House is architecturally important as an excellent example of Tudor Revival style in Calgary. Built in 1907 for attorney Harry Woodburne Blaylock, the house is one of Calgary’s earliest examples of the style utilized in residential design in the city, and the only one of its type in its neighbourhood. The exterior of the spacious house is dominated by its mock half-timbered gables, broad and steeply pitched roofs and several verandas and porches. The interior of the house is notable for compatible Arts and Crafts style detailing that includes darkly stained wood (fir) detailing, beamed and cross-beamed ceilings, three-quarter-height paneling and clay-tile fireplaces.

The substantial size and sophisticated architectural treatment of the house further serves to recall the area’s status as a choice residential neighbourhood at the time of its construction. Bordering the city’s original exclusive residential area of 12 – 14 Avenues, prior to the development of the Mount Royal area, the McClung House exemplifies the early character of its vicinity.


Character-Defining Elements
The exterior character-defining elements of the Nellie McClung House include its:
- One and one-half storey, irregular, asymmetrical plan;
- Steeply pitched, cross gable roof with gable-on-hip roof dormers; red brick chimneys (3); wooden shingle roofing; wooden bargeboards with multiple mouldings;
- Wooden shingle cladding and half timbering with rough cast stucco;
- Skirt roof enclosing the gables with closed, tongue-and-groove eaves;
- Open verandas (2) and porch (1) with wooden-shingle-clad roofs; solid, shingled balustrades and stair walls; wooden tongue-and-groove ceilings and wooden floors; and
- Fenestration with a variety of wooden-sash single-hung, fixed and casement windows; multi-pane upper sashes (12- and 18-pane) and casement windows (16-pane); fixed, leaded, multi-pane windows; wooden-sash storm windows (2- and 4-pane); French windows (veranda) with patterned glazing.

The interior character-defining elements of the Nellie McClung House include its:
- Floor plan consisting of a centre-hall plan surrounded by eight rooms on the main floor and six rooms (5 bedrooms, 1 lavatory) on the upper floor;
- Dark-stained fir wood detailing including the Arts and Crafts-style staircase with squared balusters and tapered newel posts with diamond-shaped cut-outs; beamed and cross-beamed (false) ceilings; three-quarter-height paneling; built-in bookcases; paneled chimneypieces with bracketed mantles; mouldings such as window and door casings, picture rails, baseboards; paneled doors and French windows with patterned glazing;
- Fireplaces with clay-tile hearths and surrounds - some with original cast-iron insets;
- False skylight (conservatory);
- Upper-storey lavatory with wooden, three-quarter height, tongue-and-groove paneling, cast-iron claw-foot tub;
- Upper-floor fir flooring; and
- Cast-iron radiators throughout.

The character-defining elements of the Nellie McClung House property landscape includes its:
- corner-lot location and original placement on the property; and
- Soft character of its landscaping.


Location



Street Address: 803 - 15 Avenue SW
Community: Calgary
Boundaries: Lots 17 to 20, Block 110, Plan A1
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
5
1
24
16
02

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
A1
110
17-20


Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
51.03892682710 -114.07963879000 Secondary Source NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Local Governments (AB)
Designation Status: Municipal Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2009/02/09

Historical Information

Built: 1907/01/01
Significant Date(s) N/A
Theme(s) Building Social and Community Life : Social Movements
Peopling the Land : Settlement
Historic Function(s): Residence : Single Dwelling
Current Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Office or Office Building
Architect:
Builder:
Context:

Additional Information

Object Number: 4664-0264
Designation File:
Related Listing(s): 4665-0560
Heritage Survey File: HS 19192
Website Link:
Data Source: City of Calgary, Heritage Planning, File No. 05-112
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