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Edmonton Historical Board’s 2011 Plaque Awards


Buttercup Farm House.
Courtesy of the City of Edmonton, Sustainable Development.

 

The Edmonton Historical Board has presented its 2011 Plaque Awards, recognizing a total of nine buildings and one district. Each of the selected sites receives an alloy plaque explaining its historical significance.

Here’s a capsule look at the first five recipients honoured at the ceremony at the Prince of Wales Armouries Heritage Centre on November 3, 2011.

Buttercup Farm House

Completed in 1912, the Buttercup Farm House at 11243 58th Street has been home to just three families in its century of life. The residence was one of seven similar homes constructed in the fledgling Highlands neighbourhood in the early 20th century. It is the only one of the bunch to survive unaltered.

The house was completed in 1912, but apparently not fully occupied until 1917 when auctioneer Clyde Smith and Minnie Smith bought it. The Smiths kept a small barn in the back, with chickens and a cow, named Buttercup. As the years progressed the house became known as Buttercup Farm House, even though it was never part of a farm.

The two-and-a-half storey side-gabled big brown house is clad with wood shingles and clapboard siding, and shows modest influences of the Arts and Crafts school of design. Its distinctive elements include wooden shingles on the upper surface, clapboard siding below, an open porch which is wider than its roof, and intersecting front and rear gables.

Edmonton’s Chinatown

Chinese immigrants first came to Edmonton in 1892 when brothers Chung Gee and Chung Yan travelled north from Calgary to start a laundry. The community grew slowly, limited by the federal government’s head tax for Chinese migrants, in place from 1885 to 1923. The tax also skewed the gender balance.

By 1931, Edmonton’s Chinese community numbered about 440 men and 27 women. As several Chinese businessmen established stores and restaurants around 97th Street and 101A Avenue, an identifiable Chinatown emerged.

Over the next three decades, services for the community were established and grew, including clubs and benevolent societies which provided seniors’ housing, language and cultural activities. During the 1960s and ‘70s, Chinatown faced increasing pressure for urban renewal, and the community organized to consolidate and expand. Today Chinatown stretches from Jasper Avenue north to 107th Avenue between 94th and 97th streets. The installation of the China Gate on 97th Street in 1987, a gift from Edmonton’s sister city of Harbin, helped further establish the community’s permanent place in Edmonton.

Dr. Nathaniel Minish Residence

This L-shaped Craftsman-style bungalow at 11222 123rd Street was built for $3,600 in 1932. The 800-square-foot house was constructed by contractor Robert Atkingson atop a concrete foundation with parged relief patterns to resemble stone, clad with clinker brick for exterior walls, and shingled with cedar. The principal beams and joists were set right in the concrete foundation, and the house was framed with timber.

It was one of about 150 homes built in Edmonton between 1913 and 1935 using clinker brinks. While they were discarded in many other places, these distinctive bricks, with their coloured glaze and hard shell finish, became prized in Edmonton.

The residence, which still has most of its architectural elements intact, was first occupied by Alex L. Clarke, who called it home between 1932 and 1939. Dr. Nathaniel Minish, who taught anatomy at the University of Alberta, bought it in 1942. He owned it for the next 25 years and lived there with his wife Elza. She died in 1964 and he died in 1970 at the age of 91.

Fraser-Rose-Hocking Residence

When farmer William Fraser commissioned the construction of this two-and-a-half storey house at 11511 75 Avenue, there was nothing around it except fields, bush and McKernan Lake. The house was built sometime between 1912 and 1916 in the four-square style that was popular on the Prairies before 1920 for its practicality and good interior space at a modest cost.

The style can be seen in its square shape, symmetrical massing and hipped roof.. The house originally had a full front veranda, removed sometime during the 1940s. But most of its original materials and design features have been retained, including narrow wood lap siding, single-hung windows, hardwood floors, 12-inch baseboards, trim, and hallway staircase.

Fraser lived in the house for five years, and then sold it to Walter Rose, a claims adjuster for the Workmen’s Compensation Board. Rose lived in the house for 24 years, from 1922 to 1946. Professor Brian Hocking purchased the property in 1946, when he joined the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Agriculture as a teacher and researcher. The Hocking family still owns the house, and renovated it in 2010 with support from the City of Edmonton and Province of Alberta.

Frederick S. Jones Residence

Built in 1926, the Frederick S. Jones Residence is a distinctive Craftsman-style bungalow in the Calder neighbourhood at 13067 115th Street. The house was constructed by Jones himself, a skilled builder, mason and bricklayer.

He used locally-made colourful clinker brick, which he purchased from local brickyards as “seconds” for $10 per ton, and mixed them in with other bricks to create a unique patterned veneer. The design of the house came from catalogue plans drawn by George Fowler purchased from Touchstone magazine based in New York City.

Jones was the owner of the Elm Park Greenhouses which were located east of the original homestead. He worked as a market gardener and grew plants until the late 1940s.

The house was constructed on a roomy corner plot of land, four lots large. True to the Craftsman style, the one-and-a-half storey residence has hipped gables over the front and sides and exposed roof rafters. The fireplace is centrally located in the living room with an internal chimney. The bungalow survives with many of its original features including the stucco finish on the south gable.

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