The Nimmons Residence is significant for its association with its builders and first owners William Nimmons (c1826-1919) and wife Isabella (c1851-1936). They are important for their role as pioneer ranchers, for the contribution of William’s quarry and brickworks to Calgary’s early construction and for his role in the city’s urban development. After his marriage to Scottish-born Isabella (nee Munneck) in 1883, William emigrated from England to raise his family and establish a ranch outside Calgary’s city limits. William had lived in North America prior to their marriage and his imprisonment by Louis Riel while surveying in 1869 did not deter him. Isabella showed equal fortitude, giving birth to Isabella, her second child and one of the first non-native children born in Calgary, within six weeks of arrival. William and youngest son Albert worked as ranchers and farmers, Albert later competing in Calgary’s first Stampede. Nimmons established a quarry and brickworks on the northwest part of his estate. His quarry, managed by James Oliver, supplied sandstone for the Lougheed House, Carnegie Library, and many early schools. He also operated greenhouses on the estate.
The Nimmons Residence holds symbolic meaning for the Bankview and Richmond/Knob Hill neighbourhoods as the first house in the area and because the lands – surveyed for William in 1905 and annexed in 1907 – eventually became Bankview and part of Richmond/Knob Hill. William acted as real estate agent for his lots, working from the Nimmons & McCloy office on 8th Avenue and later from the Isabella Block, aka Nimmons Corner at 1431 17th Avenue, which he built in 1911. Despite losing it to the City for back taxes for a period in the 1930 and 40s the Nimmons family and descendents lived in the house through the 1980s and owned it until the 21st century.
The construction of the Nimmons Residence is significant for the early use of red brick (of 14,842 dwellings in Alberta by 1901 only 97 used brick), even more unusual since buff-colour was most common in 1890s Calgary. The resource is notable because the brick comes from his brickworks and the sandstone for the lintels, sills and foundations came from his quarry.
The Nimmons Residence possesses stylistic value as one of the finest examples of the Queen Anne Revival-style architecture in Calgary. Characteristically, it has a hipped roof with cross gables, an asymmetrical façade, polygonal corner tower, and numerous small stain glass windows. The classical detailing expressed in the broad wraparound veranda associate the Victorian house with the ‘free classic’ variant of the style.
The resource is a community landmark due to its prominent location on a large corner property on a main traffic artery. There are significant views of the city from the resource. According to youngest daughter, Kate McCloy, the ranch house was built “on a hilltop so mother could look out the windows and see the great sweep of the prairie and the village of Calgary in the distance”.
Character Defining Elements:
- Two-storey, rectangular plan with irregularities, including a polygonal corner tower
- hipped roof with lower cross gables; polygonal tower roof; numerous, short, wooden finials; closed, wooden tongue-and-groove soffits; tall, corbelled, red-brick chimneys;
- wood-frame construction with red-brick cladding in stretcher bond; rock-faced sandstone foundation and detailing (sills, lintels); wood-shingle gable cladding with mock half timbering;
- fenestration, with one-over-one, wooden-sash windows; fixed-sash leaded, stained and ‘jewelled’ windows; a four-pane window with a stained and patterned upper sash; some four-pane, wooden storm sashes; square-sided bay / oriel window with wooden tongue-and-groove panelled finish;
- an elaborate and classically detailed, open, curved, wrap-around veranda and balcony of wood construction with single-bellied balusters, Tuscan columns, pedimented entry, wood shingle-clad base and wooden tongue-and-groove ceiling;
- main doorway assembly with panelled sidelights containing oval-shaped leaded and bevelled glass lights, and a panelled oak door with bevelled oval glazing
- interior features including extant elements of the original layout such as the side-hall plan, large first-storey rooms; open staircase with turned balusters and panelled, square newels; wood door and window casings some with cornices or corner blocks, and baseboards; panelled wood doors and hardware; softwood flooring;
- contextual features including the elevated and prominent location of the property along a primary street; original placement of the house on the property; the large (as of 1934) size of the property; the extremely significant street setbacks of the house in each direction; unobscured views of the house from multiple directions; view from the property to downtown.