602 18 Avenue Northwest, Calgary

640273-house

Built c. 1911, this house represents the earliest phase of development of the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, one of Calgary’s early communities.

It is the only Queen Anne Revival-style dwelling in the neighbourhood, with other early houses remaining on this and surrounding blocks being more modest bungalows and foursquare-style homes.

This property was constructed and first owned by carpenter Benjamin Upshall who occupied the house upon completion. The property was most likely developed for speculative purposes and was subsequently sold numerous times while being rented out by the various owners.

John and Mary Corson owned and occupied the house the longest — together from 1933 until John’s death (c. 1955), then by Mary until 1976. There they raised five sons and a daughter and also housed other relatives.

The Corson children’s walk from this house to Crescent Heights High School was almost entirely through vacant lots. In the winter, the empty lot west of this house was used as a community skating rink, and the house’s basement served as a kind of clubhouse for neighbourhood children, who entered through the side door to change in and out of skating equipment. Some basement graffiti still remains from those days!

The family planted potatoes on one of the empty lots that then dominated the area, and stored them in their basement root cellar. During the Stampede, the family used the roof deck to get an unimpeded view of fireworks from the Stampede grounds.

There has been much interior renovation over the years, but efforts have been made to retain the original character. The extension at the rear (with a new kitchen) dates from the mid-1990s.