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Key Number: HS 17889
Site Name: Rees Residence
Other Names: Grierson residence
Site Type: 0101 - Residential: Single Dwelling

Location

ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
52 24 4


Address: 6124 - 111 Avenue
Number: 24
Street: 61
Avenue: 111
Other:
Town: Edmonton
Near Town:

Media

Type Number Date View
Source

Architectural

Style: Queen Anne Revival
Plan Shape: Irregular
Storeys: Storeys: 2
Foundation: Basement/Foundation Wall Material: Concrete
Superstructure: Nailed Frame
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure: Medium Hip
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes: Massing of Units: Single Detached
Wings: Unknown
Wall Design and Detail: Balcony
Roof Trim - Eaves: Plain Soffit
Roof Trim Material - Eaves: Wood
Roof Trim - Verges: Plain Soffit
Roof Trim Material - Verges: Wood
Towers, Steeples and Domes: None
Dormer Type: Swept
Chimney Location - Side to Side: Offset Left
Chimney Stack Material: Brick
Chimney Stack Massing: Single
Roof Trim - Special Features: Skylight
Window - Structural Opening Shape: Flat
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Plain Flat
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Material: Wood
Window - Sill Type: Plain Slip Sill
Window - Sill Material: Wood
Window - Trim Within Structural Opening - Head: Plain
Window - Trim Within Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Window - Number of Sashes: One
Window - Opening Mechanism: Single or Double Hung
Window - Special Types: Palladian
Window - Pane Arrangements: 2 over 2
Main Entrance - Location: Centre (Facade)
Main Entrance - Structural Opening Shape: Flat
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Plain Flat
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening Material: Wood
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Head: Plain
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Main Entrance - Number of Leaves: 1
Main Entrance - Number of Panels Per Leaf: 1
Main Entrance - Leaves - Special Feature: Glass
Main Stairs - Location and Design: None
Main Porch - Type: Open Verandah
Main Porch - Special Features: Columns
Main Porch - Material: Concrete
Exterior: The house features a relatively complex roof line, including Queen Anne octagonal tower and a swept dormer on the front roof slope.
Other than the arched windows with their side window tracery and the verandah supported by unturned posts, the house is plainly finished.
The white painted clapboard exterior treatment has none of the textural variation one would expect in a house of the Queen Anne style built during the period.
Turret, swept roof dormer, wrap around verandah, rear balcony, decorated frieze on turret palladian windows; lattice work in windows.
Hip roof with wall dormer; eyebrow attic window; corner turret with bay window on first and second floor; full open wrap around verandah; palladian windows front and side; double hung wooden sash windows.
Interior: N/A
Environment: Neighbourhood: Highlands Compatible. Corner location; hedge and spruce trees. The house is located on a well-treed lot in a quiet residential neighbourhood.
Condition: Structure: Good. Repair: Good. 8 AUG 1978. Good (1993)
Alterations: Recently the house has been partially remodeled and redecorated. This process has altered the interior appearance of the house, in two ways. Firstly, not all the redecoration has maintained the original appearance and secondly the process has altered the floor plan on the second floor. The recent replacement of the roof has allowed for massive intrusion of rainwater and deteriorated the structure somewhat. (03 NOV 1982) Skylight at rear.

Historical

Construction: Construction Date:
Constructed
1912/01/01
Usage: Usage Date:
Residence
1912/01/01
Owner: Owner Date:
Mayme Armstrong
R.W. Grierson
Charles J.B. Rees & Agnes Rees
1912/01/01
1916/01/01
1977/04/01
Architect: N/A
Builder: Magrath & Holgate
Craftsman: N/A
History: The Grierson House was built between 1912 and 1914 during Edmonton's greatest land boom. The rapid expansion of the city resulted in the creation of the exclusive Highlands subdivision by the firm of Holgate and Magrath in which a number of homes similar to the Grierson House were built. The first owner, Mayme Armstrong, did not reside in the house and may have taken part in the speculative process. In 1916 R.W. Grierson bought the house and his family continued to live in the house until 1972. The house has functioned as a single family residence since its construction.
Permit no. 1985 May 6, 1913 - Wm. Armstrong - Garage cost $200.00.
Permit No. 126 Magrath 840 Orpheum Ave. Nov. 22, 1912.
Jasper Avenue Dwelling Architect contractor = Owner $4300.00

** * **
The Grierson Residence was designated a Provincial Historical Resource in 1983. It is named for Robert Walter and Allie Grierson, who bought it in 1916. R.W. Grierson was the younger brother of Edmund Grierson, the namesake of Grierson Hill, Grierson Church on 82 Avenue, and owner of several early Edmonton hotels.

When R.W. Grierson started out in 1910, real estate was a good way to earn a living. By the midteens, however, the economic slump and WW I had made things much harder. Grierson continued in real estate, though the activities of his firm, R.W. Grierson Co., were interrupted during the 1930s. He last appeared in the city directory in 1940, but his wife, Allie, kept this house until 1972.

The $4,300 Grierson Residence was part of Magrath-Holgate's November 1912 development push. It was an important part of the streetscape on Jasper Avenue, as 111 Avenue was then known. The large properties on Ada Boulevard--especially the Magrath and Holgate Mansions--gave the houses on the north side of 111 Avenue river valley views, setting them apart from the rest of The Highlands, and giving them prestige second only to Ada Boulevard addresses.

Typically, Edmonton's narrow lots resulted in houses with architectural details concentrated on the front. Though The Highlands had wider lots than elsewhere in Edmonton, the houses could still be quite one-sided. In contrast, the Grierson Residence has a wrap-around verandah, corner tower, swept dormer and Palladian windows, creating a distinctive design on two sides. Its proportions are less vertical, and details less profuse than textbook examples, but the Grierson Residence is closest to the Queen Anne Style of any home in The Highlands.
* * *

SITE DATA FORM BUILDING/SITE DESCRIPTION:

The Grierson Residence is located at 6124 - 111 Avenue in the Highlands subdivision of Edmonton. It is a two-and-one-half-storey Queen Anne style building featuring an octagonal tower, arched windows and a verandah. The house is located on a well-treed lot in a quiet residential neighbourhood. Recently the house has been partially remodeled and redecorated. This process has altered the interior appearance of the house in two ways. Firstly not all the redecoration has maintained the original appearance. Secondly, the process has altered the floor plan on the second floor and on the ground floor in the kitchen. In addition to the planned changes, the removal of the roof and the unfortunate massive intrusion of rain water has altered, perhaps deteriorated, the structure.

ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE:

The Grierson (Rees) House, built in a style popular during the late Victorian period, conforms more to the Queen Anne style than any other. The style of architecture was most exuberant and eclectic in its use of texture, colour and form and as such was most 'Victorian'.

In the case of the Grierson (Rees) House in the Highlands, the conformity to style is mainly structural as the exterior treatments are not unlike houses built in the Gothic style, or built in any other style during the period in Edmonton. The house features a relatively complex roof line, including Queen Anne octagonal tower and a swept dormer on the front roof slope. Other than the arched windows with their side window tracery and the verandah supported by unturned posts the house is plainly finished. The white painted clapboard exterior treatment has none of the textural variation one would expect in a house of the Queen Anne style built during the period.

* * *
The Rees Residence, built in a style popular during the late Victorian period, conforms more to the Queen Anne style than any other. The style of architecture was the most exuberant and eclectic in its use of texture, color and forms and as such most 'Victorian'. In the case of the Rees Residence in the Highlands, the conformity to the style is mainly structural as the exterior treatments are not unlike houses built in the Gothic style or any other for that matter during the period in Edmonton. The Rees Residence features a relatively complex roof line, including the typical octagonal tower and a swept dormer on the front roof slope. Other than the arched windows with their delicate tracery and the verandah supported by unturned posts, the house is plainly finished in clapboard with none of the textural variation one would expect in a house of this type and of this period.

The first owner of the house appears to have been Mayme Armstrong, the wife of Walter Armstrong, a grain buyer in Edmonton. Mrs. Armstrong actually took possession of the property on April 5, 1915 while two years earlier a building permit was issued to Walter Armstrong to construct a garage on the property at a cost of $200.

The house was built sometime between 1912 and 1914, but regardless it was occupied in 1914 and 1915 by Daniel J. Simons, a bookkeeper for the Firm of Larose Company Ltd., probably on a rental basis. The early history of the house and its ownership record between 1910 and 1915 would indicate that perhaps Walter Armstrong and the firms of Magrath and Holgate and McDougall and Secord had a joint and overlapping financial interest in the house and property. The details of this arrangement are not clear at this time, but considering the land boom which occurred during the period of its construction, the purpose could be regarded as speculative as neither of the Armstrongs actually lived in the house.

In 1916 the house was purchased by R. Walter Grierson who owned the house until 1922 when title was transferred to his wife, Allie Grierson, who in turn occupied the house until its sale to James McGregor in 1972. The present owner, Charles Rees, purchased the house on April 1, 1977 and has undertaken extensive renovation of both the interior and exterior of the house.

The longest occupants of the house were the Griersons. R.W. Grierson was the brother of Edmund D. Grierson, a notable Edmontonian for whom the Grierson Church on 82 Street was named, as was Grierson Hill, a road leading into the river valley from the east side of the central business district of Edmonton. Edmund Grierson was also a member of Edmonton's City Council from 1902 to 1904. He was born in the township of Cavan, East Durham, Ontario in 1861. He moved west with a C.P.R. construction crew from whence he entered the hotel business, first in Field, B.C., then in Edmonton. He owned the Queen's Hotel and built the Alberta Hotel on Jasper Avenue in 1904. At the time of his death in 1922 he had two brothers in the Edmonton district, the previously mentioned R.W. Grierson and C.H. Grierson, a farmer at the time at North Edmonton. It would appear that R.W. Grierson's chief claim to fame would be through the accomplishments of his brother and his incidental association with some of Edmonton's pioneer developers.

The house itself is a good example of the type of housing built for members of the upper socioeconomic order during the early part of the century.

Architecturally the house shows Queen Anne style influences and elements, but is not exemplary of the style as it lacks the exuberance that was so characteristic of that particular architectural style. Its place in the architectural history and development of Edmonton will require further research. The present owner has undertaken extensive remodeling of the house both outside and inside, altering the original floor plan to some extent. More important perhaps, the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the replacement of the roof resulted in massive water intrusion of the entire house, the long term results of which cannot be understood at this time.

Historically the house has not been directly associated with any major contributor to either Edmonton's history or that of the province. On the other hand, it is linked incidentally with two of the founders of Edmonton, Richard Secord and J.A. McDougall, as well as to Edmonton's most well known developers, the firm of Magrath and Holgate, through its construction during the largest real estate boom Edmonton has ever known. In conclusion, the house was built during a period of speculative boom in Edmonton, as a private residence and for about 70 years the house has served as an elegant private residence.
* * *

DRAFT PRESS RELEASE
The Honorable Mary J. LeMessurier, Minister of Culture, announced today that the Rees Residence in Edmonton has been designated a Registered Historic Resource.

Located at the corner of 61st Street and 11th Avenue, the Rees Residence is a tangible reminder of the economic boom experienced in Edmonton during the decade prior to World War One. The residence was one of the first to be built in the Highlands subdivision being developed just before the War by the prominent Edmonton real estate firm of Magrath-Holgate. Original plans, curtailed after 1913 by the end of the boom, were intended to create an exclusive residential area with a school and a 30 acre park on the slopes of the river.
Arrangements were also made to ensure that it would be served by Edmonton's new street railway. In 1916 the house was purchased by R.
Walter Grierson, whose brother, town councillor Edmond D. Grierson, owned the Queen's Hotel and built the Alberta Hotel in 1904. Members of the Grierson family occupied the building until 1972.

The Rees residence was built in the Queen Anne style popular before World War One. Exterior features include an octagonal tower, arched windows with delicate tracery in the second story dormers, and a verandah extending the full length of the west and south facades.

Internal

Status: Status Date:
Active
Active
1978/08/08
1993/04/20
Designation Status: Designation Date:
Municipal B List
Provincial Historic Resource

2009/10/08
Register: B118
Record Information: Record Information Date:
K. Williams 1989/06/15

Links

Internet:
Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0688
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