The Lougheed House ~ Calgary

Needed out yesterday and have wanted to check out The Lougheed House for almost forever!!  So yesterday was the day. What a great old place, didn't go inside but checked out the gardens and what a beautiful spot among all the buildings and traffic.  Made for a very peaceful spot to hang out and enjoy a good book.


One of the earliest surviving mansions on the Canadian prairies, this 1891 home brought a new elegance to its frontier town.  Designed by Ottawa architect James R. Bowes for Senator James Lougheed and his wife Isabelle (nee Hardisty), it hosted visiting royalty, traveling dignitaries and local society gatherings.  An early domestic example of Calgary sandstone contraction, the house combines historical style in a robust Victorian Eclectic design.  At one time, porches, carriageways and a terraced formal garden were edged  by balustrades.  Despite later uses, the grand interior is largely intact.

Changes Over Time

When the house was built in1891 this area was still an expanse of prairie southwest of the growing town of Calgary.

Built of local sandstone from the Butlin quarry, the three storey home with its red metal roof and colourful window trim was a striking landmark on the horizon.  When the house was enlarged and redecorated in1907, the trim was sand-painted a labour-intensive technique whereby sand is thrown against wet paint to create the look of stone.  During the restoration of Lougheed House, 2000-2004, sand-painting was re-introduced.  Only the row of tower windows facing this exhibit was painted to interpret the original house trim colours.  Over the years the front portico and west porch were rebuilt a number of times.  The sandstone carriage house was demolished in 1951.

The Gardens

By the early 1900s the 2.8 acre estate included the 1891 residence, carriage house and stable, as well as a formal garden with swan sculpture fountain.

Backyard and kitchen gardens, floral beds, tree-lined carriageway and boulevards, and pasture transformed the prairie setting.  Garden parties at Lougheed house were grand occasions, particularly the 1919 event for Edward, Prince of Wales.

After WWII, the formal garden and pasture were sold and three apartment blocks constructed.  Following their removal c. 1978, large towers were designed but never built.  In 1993, the City re-purchased that part of the estate for parkland. 

In the 1970s,  the Canadian Red Cross, then owner of the house, needed more space and suggested demolition. Already provincially protected, the historic house was saved by an agreement that moved the Red Cross and gave title to the Province of Alberta.  A Lougheed House Conservation Society proposal in the 1990’s resulted in today’s Public Heritage Centre, ensuring a vibrant future for the house and gardens.

Just a few flowers from this beautiful garden.  I wish I could have seen it in its glory days, I am sure it would have been beautiful!!