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40-year-old Calgary home gets historic resource designation

The front of the Norman and Jo Anne Stewart residence, designed by Wolfgang Wenzel. City of Calgary / handout

It’s been said Calgary is a young city, but that’s not why a municipal historic resource designation is being granted to a home that was built in 1977.

The city’s planning and urban development committee is recommending three homes receive designation including the home of Norman and Jo Ann Stewart.

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“It’s historic for its style and architecture,” Josh Traptow, executive director of the Calgary Heritage Authority, told Global News. “This specific property was symbolic for it’s style, it’s design value and the fact it was built into the ground.

“When it was built in the 70’s it likely was ahead of its time in terms of energy efficiency.”

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Located in the southwest community of Glengarry, the home was designed by prominent Calgary architect Wolfgang Wenzel. It has earth berm construction with earth around all four of its sides. Most of the living areas are partially below ground level providing for natural insulation.

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“We were very young and on a limited budget,” homeowner Joey Stewart told Global News. Stewart said the home came about when she and her husband weren’t able to afford another Wenzel design.

“We had met him and done some work and when he heard our story he asked if we had $250,000. We said no and we were kind of saying, ‘I guess we can’t work together.'”

Before leaving the meeting, the architect told the couple he had an idea for a home when he was 21.

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“It was a simple little house with a garden in the middle. There was a lot of light with roof windows and I went, ‘Oh, tell me more,” Stewart said.

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The rear yard of the Norman and Jo Anne Stewart residence, designed by Wolfgang Wenzel. City of Calgary / handout
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Detail of the conservatory/garage of the Norman and Jo Anne Stewart residence, designed by Wolfgang Wenzel. City of Calgary / handout

She said Wenzel was able to realize his dream and she and her husband’s adventurous nature made the home a reality.

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Being designated as a historic resource means the property can’t be demolished — something that thrills Stewart.

“I am so proud of that. I just think preserving that piece of Calgary is just amazing and I hope it inspires people to take risks and to do things that are maybe off the wall a bit but work like a dream.”

While approved by committee, Calgary city council must give it’s okay to the designation later this month.

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