In January 2002, Patricia Dunnigan bought a house rich in history and now lives in the 1914 house with her husband, Aydan Dunnigan-Vickruck.
Throughout the years, past owners have done a lot of work on the house.
“The interior was quite beautiful, someone had done a lot of renovation in 1995,” Dunnigan said. “I can sit anywhere in the house and I can see a different view, a different angle,” she continued.
As I walk through the house, I can see the care and effort put into renovations. The first floor has a creative artistic curved wall. It’s likely previous owners removed a double doorway to achieve this look. The brick wall between the kitchen and the living room has been exposed and partially removed, creating more light on the first floor. A gas fireplace is now in the same wall. Previous owners also replaced part of the foundation and built a small extension at the back of the kitchen.
Patricia and Aydan have also completed some renovations.
“When I first bought the house, I hired a guy to fix up the exterior, it was really grim,” said Dunnigan. “He did the supports on the front balcony, it was really sagging,” she added. As for the interior, “we did very little to it until this year when the old stove in the kitchen broke…one thing led to another and we ended up renovating and getting a new kitchen,” Dunnigan said. Dunnigan-Vickruck hopes to rip out the carpeting in the main bedroom to expose the wooden floor and to refinish the original stairway banister and spindles.
The couple knew something about the history of the house, and I was able to add details and check some dates.
The house is known as the Grant house because Alfred Grant, a lawyer, was the original owner. According to Henderson’s City Directories, in 1911 Grant was a law student rooming at the YMCA. Still living at the YMCA, Grant started a legal practice on Jasper Avenue in 1913. By 1914, Grant had bought the home on 94 Street (formerly Carey Street).
According to the 1915 and 1916 Henderson’s Directories, Alfred Grant continued his legal practice while taking on work as a contractor and a warehouseman while his wife May clerked for the Hudson’s Bay Company. But by 1919, the Grants had moved to an apartment and a provincial government clerk named Walter A. Murphy moved into the house. The difficult First World War economy forced many Norwood homeowners to leave.
The house is designed in the American Foursquare Prairie Box style popular in streetcar suburbs during the mid-1890s to the late 1930s. The Grant house is quite typical for an American Foursquare. This boxy two-and-half story home has four rooms on both the main and second floors. The second floor hallway fans out to three bedrooms and a bathroom. The hallway includes original built-in closets. There’s also the typical wide front porch. It’s a simple and practical design which leaves a small footprint and “is easy to keep clean,” said Dunnigan.
The house also has balconies at the front and back, and the roof has a triangular extension leading to the top of the front balcony.
The couple are delighted with its character. Dunnigan-Vickruck pointed out the “coal chute at back” as we were examining exposed boards in the basement. The floorboards contain many vintage square nails.
This house may have been a mail order kit home shipped by rail and assembled on site. It’s certainly the correct style and vintage. We looked for numbers on exposed boards to confirm this with no luck.
The Grant house is an example of the rising middle class prior to the First World War and a reaction to the ornate detail of the Victorian era. It deserves the care and appreciation it is getting.
Header image: Aydan and Patricia enjoy the character of their home. | Chantal Figeat
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