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Key Number: HS 56539
Site Name: Chown Residence
Other Names:
Site Type: 0101 - Residential: Single Dwelling


ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
52 24 4

Address: 11141 - 62 Street
Number: 41
Street: 62
Avenue: 111
Town: Edmonton
Near Town:


Type Number Date View


Plan Shape: Irregular
Storeys: Storeys: 2
Foundation: Basement/Foundation Wall Material: Concrete
Superstructure: Nailed Frame
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure: High Hip
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes: Massing of Units: Single Detached
Wings: Unknown
Number of Bays - Facade: First or Ground Floor, 4 Bays
Number of Bays - Facade: Second Floor, 2 Bays
Wall Design and Detail: Balcony
Roof Trim - Eaves: Plain Soffit
Roof Trim Material - Eaves: Wood
Roof Trim - Verges: Pediment
Roof Trim Material - Verges: Wood
Towers, Steeples and Domes: None
Dormer Type: None
Chimney Location - Side to Side: Offset Left
Chimney Location - Front to Rear: Offset Rear
Chimney Stack Material: Brick
Chimney Stack Massing: Single
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: Off-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, Closed Railing
Main Stairs - Direction: Straight
Main Porch - Type: Open Verandah
Main Porch - Special Features: Columns
Main Porch - Special Features: Arcade
Main Porch - Material: Concrete
Exterior: Wrap around verandah, balcony brackets under soffit, gable dormer projecting, tracery in windows.
Bellcast hip roof; full wraparound verandah with paired columns; open second floor balcony; wide eaves with scroll-cut brackets; bellcast gable side entry; bay window 1st floor south side.
Interior: N/A
Environment: Neighbourhood: Highlands Compatible; residential area; typical setback. Large in scale and proportion, the building has a distinct presence on the street.
Condition: Good
Alterations: Chimneys have been stuccoed.


Construction: Construction Date:
Construction started
Usage: Usage Date:
Single Family Residence
Owner: Owner Date:
Magrath & Holgate
Russell Chown
Architect: N/A
Builder: N/A
Craftsman: N/A
History: Russell Chown purchased this home from the Magrath-Holgate Co. in 1913. Russell, wife and children had arrived in Edmonton the previous year to join Russell's parents who had moved from Belleville, Ontario in 1906 to establish Chown Hardware. Originally employed as the manager of the family hardware, he became the superintendent of the City of Edmonton's City Stores and Works Department until it disappeared in a municipal reorganization in 1916. In that year Chown Hardware also went out of business and rest of Russell Chown's family left. Russell and his family remained in Edmonton until 1924 at which time the house was converted to suites.
'The Chown Residence was one of four houses on Grace (62) Street for which Magrath-Holgate Co. received building permits in November 1912. Of the four, it was the most costly, at $4,800. The architect was listed as 'Owner', but Ernest Morehouse probably designed the Four Square Style Chown Residence.
Russell Chown, this home's first resident and private owner, came to Edmonton from Belleville, Ontario in 1912 to join his parents and siblings. They had established Chown Hardware in Edmonton in 1906.
Russell became secretary-treasurer of the company, and managed one of the two stores. On December 31, 1913 he purchased this house from Magrath-Holgate. Russell's brother Leroy lived one block away, at 11145 - 63 Street. The Chowns and Magraths were acquainted; they came from the same Ontario town. In the Magrath-Holgate subdivisions of The Highlands and the Bellevue Addition, 116 Avenue was originally named Chown Avenue.
Russell Chown's timing was bad. Edmonton suffered a severe downturn in 1913, and so did Chown Hardware. In 1914, their business '...showed quite a large loss. The volume of trade (was) so reduced that the results cannot be expected to be profitable.' This evaluation proved accurate. Despite the security provided by Russell Chown re-mortgaging his home in 1915, Chown Hardware was liquidated in May of 1916 and the entire Chown family, except for Russell, his wife and children, left Edmonton.
Russell stayed on, but his persistence was not rewarded with better fortune. In 1914 he had taken an outside job as superintendent of the City Stores and Works Department, but this, along with the entire department, was eliminated in 1916 or 1917. Chown then became a travelling salesman for a series of building and hardware supply wholesalers, but by 1923 was unemploed, and was a labourer in 1924.
At that point, Russell Chown gave up on Edmonton. He and his family are believed to have returned to Ontario.
The Chown Residence also suffered a decline. In 1913 Russell Chown had paid $7,000 for it. By November 1916, the appraised value was $4,300. In 1922, Magrath-Holgate Limited foreclosed on Chown's mortage. The title was transferred to Magrath Limited in 1924, and the house was converted into two suites, resulting in some unfortunate alterations to its interior. Not until 1946, when it was sold for $8,000, did the Chown Residence regain its 1913 value.
The Chown Residence was designated a Registered Historical Resource in 1993. With asistance from the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation, the process of preservation and restoration has begun.'
'Constructed by the Magrath-Holgate Company as a speculative house, this building was one of four to receive a building permit on 62 Street in November of 1912, yet at a price of $4,800 of was the most costly. The first resident of the house was Russell Chown, who came to Edmonton from Belleville, Ontario, and purchased the building on December 31, 1913. Russell Chown was secretary tresurer of the Chown family hardware store.
Designed in the Foursquare tradition, the buiding features a full open wraparound verandah with paired columns, as well as an open second storey front balcony, wide eaves and scroll cut brackets. Large in scale and proportion, the building has a distinct presence on the street.
In 1922, the mortgage was foreclosed by Magrath-Holgate, and two years later the house was converted into two suites, resulting in interior alterations. With assistance from the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation the preservation and restoration process has begun.'
* * *
It appears that Russell Chown was related to the Chown family which owned 'Chown Hardware Company, Limited'. Mr. W.W. Chown (who I believe was probably Russell's father) came from Belleville, Ontario in 1906. Russell Chown made his first appearance in Edmonton in approximately 1913. In the 1913 Henderson's Directory he is listed as the manager of Chown Hardware Ltd. and as residing at 1667 Grace (Highlands) (even though he did not purchase the property from Magrath-Holgate until December 1913). A letter on file at the Edmonton Archives, dated 1914, shows R.C. Chown as the secretary-treasurer of Chown Hardware on the letterhead.
1914 saw Russell Chown make a change in his career. He became the Superintendant of the City of Edmonton 'City Stores and Works Department'. Since Magrath also came from Belleville Ontario, one can only speculate as to whether Chown and Magrath knew each other personally and as to what influence that had over Chown's purchase of a Highlands home and his obtaining a municipal position.
The title issued to Russell Chown on December 31, 1913, shows the value of the property to be $7,000.00. The property was mortgaged in the total amount of $4,500.00, $3,500.00 to Mutual Life and $1,000.00 to Magrath and Holgate. Russell Chown must have gotten involved in some business investments since he further mortgaged the property to the Canadian Bank of Commerce, in the approximately amount of $6,000.00 in October of 1915.
Unfortunately, Russell Chown was a victim of the depression which hit Edmonton in about 1915. There was a reorganization of the City departments, resulting in Russell Chown losing his job. The 1917 Henderson's Directory no longer showed a 'City Stores ans Works Dept.' and showed R.C. Chown as being employed as a traveller for British American Paint Co. In the subsequent years, Chown held a number of jobs with various companies - all as a salesman or traveller. It is also interesting to note that Chown Hardware appears to have been a victim of the depression. It was no longer listed in the 1917 Henderson's Directory.
Things appear to have gone from bad to worse for Russell Chown. In the 1923 Henderson's, he is listed as having no occupation and in 1924 he is simply listed as being employed as a 'labourer'. In the meantime, his house had been foreclosed. The Order of Foreclosure, dated February 20, 1922, transferred to property to Magrath Hartt Limited. Finally, the Chown family left Edmonton in approximately 1924-25. He is no longer listed in the 1925 Henderson's.
The house appears to not have fared well, either. It appears to have been split into two suites in about 1924 since the Henderson's that year listed the residents as Chown and a Matthew Forran, a reporter for Bradstreet Co., as residents. In the 1925 through 1928 directories, the residents were Forran and James Henderson, an architect.
The Magrath family also did not fare well. When the property transferred to the Magrath Limited company in July, 1924, an additional mortgage of $2,800.00 to the Edmonton Credity Co. Ltd. was taken out. The property was transferred to the Edmonton Credit Co. in June 1931.
* * *
HISTORICAL INTEREST SUMMARY: This house was one of the first houses constructed by Magrath and Holgate as part of their development of an exclusive residential neighbourhood in the Highlands. It was constructed in 1912 and unlike many other homes in the area it has only been slightly modified and thus retains a high proportion of its original interior fittings and trim.
The first owner, Russell Chown, worked as the manager of 'Chown Hardware' in 1913 before moving on to become Superintendent of the City of Edmonton's 'Stores and Works Department'. Chown, however, fell on difficult times and he was listed as a 'traveller' or salesman for a series of companies after 1916. In 1924 his status had further declined to 'labourer', and it was at this time that the house was first divided into apartments.
This house exemplifies several interesting themes in Alberta's history. It is an excellent example of upper middle class housing from the pre World War I period, as well as being one of the most intact examples of the type of housing that Magrath and Holgate planned for the Highlands area. The career of Russel Chown reminds us that not everyone prospered even in the early expansionary period of settlement, and that emigration to the west was fraught risk, even for experienced and well-connected businessmen.
September 14, 1992.
* * *
Architectural Presentation Services Evaluation File The Chown Residence is a professionally designed building constructed in the Highlands area in 1912. It is a large, square, two storey frame building. The owner, as a principal in the Highlands Society, has a high interest in preserving and restoring this building to continue its use as a residence.
This building follows the best of construction methods for the pre first war era. It has a balloon frame system in horizontal siding, a hip roof with gables and the entire structure rests on a concrete foundation. In addition, there is a verandah across the east or front elevation.
The interior is appointed with typical architectural features of good quality as produced by mills of the day.
Given its age this building is in good condition. The foundation will require replacement in 15-20 years, the verandah will requare a low level of restoration, the basement windows require restoration and upgrading and the exterior surface will require major refinishing.
Also, the interior will require minor restoration under a programme which is phased to suit the owner.
This residence has undergone few changes. The basement has a small bedroom and the original furnace has been replaced. The second floor has been converted into a separated apartment with a separate entrance. The kitchen on the first floor has been modernized and there has been some refinishing to all interior surfaces in recent years.
The building is located in the heart of the Highlands District and set on a large lot as was the case with buildings constructed during the pre-First World War era. It is set among mature trees and it has good visibility from the road.


Status: Status Date:
Designation Status: Designation Date:
Municipal A List
Registered Historic Resource

Register: A67
Record Information: Record Information Date:
S. Khanna 1993/02/09


Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0697
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