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Key Number: HS 32948
Site Name: O'Brien Mather Residence
Other Names:
Site Type: 0101 - Residential: Single Dwelling

Location

ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
52 24 4


Address: 10311 Saskatchewan Drive
Number: 11
Street: 103
Avenue: N/A
Other:
Town: Edmonton
Near Town:

Media

Type Number Date View
Source

Architectural

Style: Craftsman
Plan Shape: Rectangular Long Facade
Storeys: Storeys: 1 1/2
Foundation: Basement/Foundation Wall Material: Brick
Superstructure: Nailed Frame
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure: Medium Gable
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes: Massing of Units: Single Detached
Wings: None
Number of Bays - Facade: First or Ground Floor, 2 Bays
Wall Design and Detail: None
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: Shed
Chimney Location - Side to Side: None
Roof Trim - Special Features: None
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: None
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: First or Ground Floor, Without Railing
Main Stairs - Direction: Straight
Main Porch - Type: Open Verandah
Main Porch - Special Features: Columns
Main Porch - Material: Concrete
Exterior: Verandah with columns - brick and flagstone supports, sash windows.
Projecting verges.
Bungalow form; full open front verandah with paired columns - brick piers with stone insets.
Interior: N/A
Environment: Neighbourhood: Strathcona The O' Brien House/Mather House is a one and a half storey wood frame structure. Athough not a true bungalow the house displays many bungalow characteristics. It features a bellcast roof, a wide verandah, a shed dormer window, stone piers, and an offset bay window which are all typical of bungalows built in the years 1910-1920. It is picturesquely situated on Saskatchewan Drive, overlooking the downtown core. At this point Saskatchewan Drive is an attractive street following the edge of the river valley. The street has been affected by high rise development but remnants of this former avenue of larger houses still exist to the west.
Condition:
Alterations: The building has recently been renovated, and is in good condition. 1913 - garage.

Historical

Construction: Construction Date:
Built
1908/01/01
Usage: Usage Date:
Dwelling
Residence

1982/08/01
Owner: Owner Date:
John Gainer
John Robinson Benson
Eulalia P. Gainer
Nils Oscar Christenson
Martha Alvira Christenson
William Miller (Grocer) and Louis Dopf (Taxi Operator)
William Miller (Grocer)
South Side Hardware Ltd.
William Roscoe
Muriel Roscoe
Sovereign Finance Ltd.
Zodiac Investment Corporation Ltd.
Elms Investments Ltd.
Old Strathcona Foundation
Kenneth MacCrimmon
Philip T. Sunohara
1893/12/12
1905/04/12
1936/12/22
1943/06/16
1943/10/13
1946/03/08
1959/11/02
1963/02/15
1963/04/24
1969/04/11
1972/10/27
1972/11/15
1973/10/11
1978/07/24
1979/07/27
1983/09/20
Architect: N/A
Builder: N/A
Craftsman: N/A
History: Only one other house is listed next to the Ritchie Residence in 1909; Alexander H. Hunter, manager of W.E. Ross Hardware was its first listed occupant. Robert J. Benson, road contractor, was occupant in 1911. Fred Duguid, clerk, was occupant in 1912. Samuel Q. O'Brien then was occupant for several years. O'Brien was owner of Samuel Q. O'Brien Co. Lumber Dealers (10405 Whyte). John Gainer (owner) built a garage in 1913. * * * BUILDING/SITE DECRIPTION: The O' Brien House/Mather House is a one and a half storey wood frame structure. Athough not a true bungalow the house displays many bungalow characteristics. It features a bellcast roof, a wide verandah, a shed dormer window, stone piers, and an offset bay window which are all typical of bungalows built in the years 1910-1920. It is picturesquely situated on Saskatchewan Drive, overlooking the downtown core. At this point Saskatchewan Drive is an attractive street following the edge of the river valley. The street has been affected by high rise development but remnants of this former avenue of larger houses still exist to the west. HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE: By 1918 the prosperity of Strathcona was well displayed in its many substantial commerical and public buildings and its fashionable neighbourhood on the rim of the valley. The house at 10311 Saskatchewan Drive is representative of this 'coming of age' built as it was on the northerly edge of Strathcona, in a neighbourhood typified by large houses. S.Q. O'Brien, a successful lumber merchant had the house built in a style somewhat different than most of the houses on the street. His role in the lumber industry, and his access to a variety of evolving North American building patterns may have contributed to this relatively unique incursion of common style into the larger homes of the merchant upper middle class. ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE: The O'Brien/Mather House is a one and a half storey 'bungalow'. Its recessed front verandah, shed dormer window, bellcast roof and use of rustic materials are all features typical of bungalows built between 1900 and 1920, although at the time of its construction, the bungalow type was not yet common in Edmonton. The house's significance is mainly derived from its comparative rarity at its time of construction, while its pleasing impact on the streetscape and its fine construction also contribute to its merit as a heritage resource. * * * The largest concentration of more substantial houses in Strathcona lay at the northerly end of the settlement, especially along Saskatchewan Drive. Saskatchewan Avenue, as it was then called had many of the attributes traditionally associated with good neighbourhoods. The street curved along the top of the valley affording changing views of Edmonton to the north setting it apart from the mundane streets of the grid pattern and giving Saskatchewan Avenue a certain cachet among Strathcona's residents. The orientation of the street along the edge of the valley gave it a more landscaped appearance than most, especially considering the trees lining the edge of the valley provided a sharp contrast to the barren streets that predominated in Strathcona. The fact that Saskatchewan Drive was a fashionable place to live and could offer competition to neighbourhoods such as Groat Estate in Edmonton and Mount Royal in Calgary can be confirmed by an examination of the street's early residents. One of the first to build was Robert Ritchie, proprietor and founder of the Ritchie Mill. In the early part of the century he built his house (no longer standing) between Main Street (104th Street) and Second Street East (102nd Street) on a lot that was to have no neighbours for a number of years. Among other prominent inhabitants of pre-World War One Saskatchewan Avenue was John Gainer, proprietor of Gainer Meats, J. Douglas of the Douglas Block, J.J. Duggan, one-time mayor of Strathcona, R.R. Buchanan, manager of the Bank of Commerce and J.R. Lavell, a lawyer. Premier Rutherford's first house was located just south of Saskatchewan Drive on Main Street (104th Street). The houses on Saskatchewan Avenue were an eclectic mix of architectural types and were more a reflection of the builder's tastes than any one 'style'. Builders were also constrained by chronic shortages of materials due to the building boom in most western cities. Often they were forced to use wood when brick or stone was preferred. Many of the more elaborate houses that used to line the south side of Saskatchewan Drive have now been demolished but a few such as the house at 10311 Saskatchewan Drive remain. The land upon which the house stands was subdivided by John Gainer in 1914 and Gainer's house was built just to the east. His new neighbour, Samuel Q. O'Brien arrived in Strathcona in the late 1890s and became the first teacher at the Colchester School in 1898. By 1901 he had saved sufficient capital to start his business. He established his yards on land leased from 'Timber' Tom Anderson, at the corner of 103rd Street and 80th Avenue. By 1902, he had built an office, fenced the yard and had sufficient business in the Strathcona region to warrant the use of a team full time. O'Brien's first teamster, whom he paid $18.00 a month was Alfred Dreger, longtime Strathcona resident and businessman. O'Brien's business prospered during the following years. In fact, he was so prosperous that he was accused of cornering the lumber market in Strathcona, and left the city in a storm of controversy in 1921. The bungalow first became popular in North America in the years between 1900 and 1920. The style was a derivative of the Bengali house type which had been imported from India by the British during the colonial period. The basic one storey, bellcast roofed house with an inset verandah was elaborated on upon its arrival to North America and the 'California Bungalow' was not always a 'true' bungalow since it often had two stories and borrowed heavily from the chalet form but it did share some characteristics of the classic bungalow such as inset front verandahs, dormer windows and exposed beams. Both bungalow types utilized rustic materials, especially shingles, random rubble masonry and art glass windows. Henry Saylor, an American architect discussed the bungalow at great length in his 1911 volume entitled BUNGALOW, dividing the style into ten types and including the one and a half and two storey bungalow. He admitted that these styles were not 'real' bungalows but pointed out that it was cheaper to gain space by raising the roof and adding dormer windows than to expand the floor space since ...the bungalow is essentially an expensive type of building, for the reason that it requires more material to build a house of one storey than a house having the same area of floor space in three stories. The House at 10311 Saskatchewan Drive belongs to Saylor's group of houses 'built along bungalow lines'. It has the recessed front verandah, the bellcast roof and the shed dormers common to bungalows. It is also built of 'rustic' materials. The house is wood frame construction with wood and shingle siding. The large overhanging eave that forms a verandah on two sides is supported by five sets of wooden pillars based in piers of brick and stone construction. There is a bay window facing the view to the north west. Although Saylor implied that bungalows were really only suitable for summer residences he admitted that they had begun to be thought of as a 'better' housing type, particularly when their interiors were furnished elaborately. The principal reception rooms of 10311 Saskatchewan Drive are thus furnished; they are both wood panelled and distinguished by large fire places. It is details such as these and the carefully bevelled glass in the front door that make 10311 Saskatchewan Drive much more than just a simple bungalow. The construction of S.Q. O'Brien's house was a novel advancement of style and design in Strathcona. It was built before the explosive proliferation of the bungalow when men of means still built two and three storey brick houses. O'Brien, because of his association with the lumber business undoubtedly had access to the most recent pattern and style books coming out of the United States, finding among them the 'California Bungalow'. Instead of building the vaguely neo-Georgian type of house so popular with his neighbours, he chose a bungalow derivative. His association with the lumber trade also explains his choice of wood, at a time when 'men of substance' generally built houses of brick. Ultimately the O'Brien house provided a showcase for what could be done with wood, illustrating that they need not be rustic pioneer houses but could be sophisticated, urbane houses suited to a modern metropolis. The O'Brien/Mather house at 10311 Saskatchewan Drive is currently protected under a Heritage Canada covenant. It was purchased by this origanization in 1976 and then sold in 1979 to its present owner. * * * NEWS RELEASE The former residence of S.Q. O'Brien, a successful Strathcona lumber merchant, is now a designated Registered Historic Resource, announced Honourable Mary J. LeMessurier, Minister of Culture. An enterprising young man, Samuel O'Brien arrived in Strathcona in the late 1890s at the end of Strathcona's first boom. He taught school for three years, saving enough from his meagre salary to lease land for a lumber yard. As a full participant of Strathcona's second business boom, O'Brien turned his fledgling business into the leading lumber supply in the city. By 1918, he was prepared to join the merchant elite by building a residence on Saskatchewan Drive. The new house would reflect both his individuality and business interest. One of the few wood-frame structures in the area, the O'Brien House was built in the brash new style that had begun to sweep the mass production market in the western United States - the California Bungalow. It is one of the earliest examples of this style in the old Strathcona neighborhood. Due to its pleasing impact on the streetscape, and O'Brien's interesting role in the Strathcona business community, the residence is protected by Heritage Canada and the province. Owners of a Registered Historic Resource must obtain the permission of the Minister prior to undertaking any action which would affect the site.

Internal

Status: Status Date:
Active
Active
1982/08/01
1993/09/28
Designation Status: Designation Date:
Municipal B List
Registered Historic Resource

1982/03/09
Register: B259
Record Information: Record Information Date:
S. Khanna 1992/12/17

Links

Internet:
Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0677
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