An almost century-old house in Edmonton’s Strathcona neighbourhood has been designated a municipal historic resource.
For the past 20 years, Leslie Main Johnson has called it home.
“I love old houses,” Johnson said. “I honour the materials and the craftsmanship.”
The Kenneth T. Henderson residence was built following the First World War, in 1921.
“When I saw this house, I went: ‘This is fantastic. This is perfect,'” she recalled.
“I got bulletins from the city saying I was living in the Kenneth Henderson residence I thought, ‘OK, that’s interesting.'”
Henderson is the first known owner. Not much is known about him, other than he worked as a contractor.
The city says the two-storey home is significant for its crafstman-style design.
It’s also a symbol of the confidence people felt about Edmonton’s future after the war.
“It was a period in which we had lost a lot of population,” Scott Ashe, the city’s principal heritage planner, said.
“The economy was going into recession and this is an example of the modest housing that was built during that period.”
In spring 2019, Johnson, a recently retired anthropology professor with Athabasca University, pursued historic designation.
“I’m not getting younger, the house isn’t getting younger — I would like it not to get knocked down,” she said.
The city recently approved the designation, meaning the property is now protected.
Ashe said these structures are important to the narrative of Edmonton’s evolution.
“We try to capture properties from all the periods in the city’s development,” he said
“Properties act as touchstones that can really connect Edmontonians with the city’s past.”
An investment of $160,000 will be made to restore the home’s exterior. Johnson will receive $75,000 from the Heritage Resources Reserve to help cover some of the rehabilitation costs.
“That was a big motivation,” she said.
“It’s also why the process takes a while, because you have to be careful that you have an appropriate prime contractor or a series of contractors who can do historic work.”
There were seven heritage designations in 2019; three of which are residential.
The Henderson house is the first to receive that status in 2020.
A plaque will eventually be placed in front of the house so others can learn more and appreciate all the unique elements Johnson does.
“The wood itself is worthy of historic preservation.”