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Watson Residence


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Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Watson Residence is an impressive Edwardian Foursquare residence with exterior detailing reflective of Classical Revival architecture. The house is located roughly mid-block on 14th Street S between 3rd Avenue S and 4th Avenue S in the Lethbridge neighbourhood of Victoria Park. The property encompasses three lots with the substantial residence straddling two of the lots. The house fronted by a moulded stone retaining wall with central access stairs.

Heritage Value
The Watson Residence, constructed in 1910-1911, is valued as representative of Lethbridge’s initial period of economic prosperity and residential development during the Edwardian era prior to the start of the First World War. The city’s Edwardian economic boom (1908-1914), a result of its development as a key distribution and service centre, its coal deposits, available arable land, irrigation networks, and railway positioning, attracted immigrants to the area. The filing of nearly 5,000 dryland homestead applications with the Lethbridge Land Office in 1910 is a reflection of the rapid influx of settlers. The city’s economic development and settlement in turn created a demand for housing, which today is reflected in the wealth of historic resources dating to this period. The Watson Residence’s large scale, exquisite design, and decorative elements suggest it was constructed by one of Lethbridge’s more affluent residents, reiterating the prosperous environment of the period.

The Watson Residence is further significant for its connection with Allan James Watson, education professional and long-serving Lethbridge School District Superintendent. Watson was born in Tara, Ontario, on May 20, 1886 to Scottish immigrants James and Annie Watson. He obtained his teaching certificate from the Calgary Normal School in 1911, which initiated his over five decade-long career in public education in Alberta. Following his marriage to Christena McLennan in 1912, he first worked in Edmonton as a teacher before transferring to High River to serve as Inspector of Schools in 1918. That same year he moved to Lethbridge occupying the same position for both the city and district. In 1924, the Lethbridge School Board appointed him Superintendent of Schools (1924-1951) and Principal of Lethbridge Collegiate Institute (1924-1936). Due to the rapid building program of schools in Lethbridge during the 1950s, the school board was re-organized and Watson took on the role of Secretary-Treasurer, a position he held until his death in May 1961. He also played a critical role in the establishment of the college in Lethbridge. As a testament to Watson’s commitment to public education and the citizens of Lethbridge, the city established Allan Watson School, originally located at 2104 6th Avenue S, in 1950. The school was moved to the old Hamilton Junior High building, which was recently renamed Victoria Park High School (2010). The Watson family owned and occupied the extant house from 1925 to 1961, and it is the sole remaining physical link to one of Lethbridge’s pioneering educators.

The Watson Residence is also valued as an elegantly designed Edwardian Foursquare style residence in the City of Lethbridge. Edwardian architecture emerged in the early 20th century following the ascension of King Edward VII, and was contradictory to the previous architectural styles of the Victorian period, which were complex and highly decorative. The style was a reaction to the mass production of goods that arose during the Industrial Age that resulted in a reduction in craftsmanship. It is characterised by houses two-storeys in height with a square or rectangular floor plan divided into quadrants; entry and stairs either in the middle or one side of the structure; four rooms per floor; hipped roof with dormers; arched entries between rooms; and well-crafted wooden elements. The house was constructed in 1910-1911 by active local developers Hans Matson and John Carlson, who constructed a number of houses in the city. Shortly after it was built, the house was sold to Catharine McCann, a rancher, who used it as a rental property. The Watsons purchased the house in 1925 and lived in the residence for nearly four decades. The home’s square-plan, two-storey height with hipped roof, second floor sleeping porch, projecting eaves, lapped wooden siding, and full-width hipped roof porch with tapered columns are hallmarks of Edwardian Foursquare architecture.

Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the Watson Residence include:
-location nearly mid-block spanning three lots on 14th Street S between 3rd Avenue S and 4th Avenue S in Lethbridge’s Upper Eastside neighbourhood;
-setback from the street behind a moulded stone retaining wall; access from an alley to the rear of property;
-landscaped grassed lot with mature deciduous and coniferous trees;
-form, scale, and massing as expressed by its: two-storey height with full-height basement; square-plan; bellcast hipped roof; bay window on first floor; full-width hipped porch; hipped roof sleeping porch on second floor;
-wooden-frame construction including: concrete foundation with stamped parging; lapped wooden siding;
-Edwardian Foursquare style details including: symmetrical square plan; hipped roof; central entry; wooden siding; projecting eaves with wooden soffits; plain corniceboard; full-width front porch with tapered columns, piers with recessed panels, closed balustrade with lapped wooden siding, wooden soffits, wooden tongue and groove floor; bay window;
-fenestration such as: multi-light wooden-sash basement windows; triple assembly asymmetrical 1-over-1 single-hung wooden-sash windows; single assembly asymmetrical 1-over-1 single-hung wooden sash windows; single assembly 1-over-1 single-hung wooden-sash windows with multi-light wooden-sash storm windows; single assembly 1-over-1 double-hung wooden-sash windows with 1-over-1 wooden-sash storm window; single assembly 1-over-1 double-hung wooden-sash windows with multi-light wooden-sash storm window; triple assembly 1-over-1 double-hung wooden-sash windows with multi-light wooden-sash storm window; single-panel wooden door with glass panel and wooden transom;
-additional elements such as: internal red brick chimney with grey mortar; one-storey shed roof entry with lapped wooden siding and wooden soffits on rear of residence; and
-interior elements including: wooden floors; wooden trim; wainscoting; lathe and plaster walls; wooden newel post and balustrade; five-panel wooden doors with hardware; single-panel wooden door with multi-light glass panel; cast iron radiators.


Street Address: 323 - 14 Street South
Community: Lethbridge
Boundaries: Portion of Lot 27 and all of Lots 28 and 29, Block 93, Plan 4353S
Contributing Resources: Building: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
Portion of Lots 27 to 29

Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
49.6955 -112.822133 Digital Maps NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type


Recognition Authority: Local Governments (AB)
Designation Status: Municipal Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2016/06/13

Historical Information

Built: 1910 to 1911
Period of Significance: 1910 to 1911
Theme(s): Peopling the Land : Settlement
Historic Function(s): Residence : Single Dwelling
Current Function(s): Residence : Single Dwelling
Builder: Hans Matson & John Carlson

Additional Information

Object Number: 4664-0424
Designation File:
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 50760
Website Link:
Data Source: City of Lethbridge City Hall, 910 - 4th Avenue South, Lethbridge, Alberta T1J 0P6
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