Duggan Residence

“The J.J. Duggan residence embodies the kind of architecture favoured by Strathcona’s upper middle class residents during the early 1900s.” ~ David Murray, architect.

In 1981 the Architects Association of Alberta (AAA) purchased and restored the Duggan House as a 75th anniversary diamond jubilee project. Built in 1907 and lived in for twenty-five years by the politician and lumber merchant John Joseph Duggan and his family, this house was eventually purchased by the City of Edmonton and slated for demolition in order to make way for road construction. Fortunately the municipal project never happened and the AAA acquired the home for use as their main office. Gerry Tersmette, executive director of the AAA in 1981, told Western Living Magazine that “Duggan House is neither an outstanding architectural design nor a house with great historical importance; instead, it represents a style of home in brick construction which was abundantly used in the Strathcona district early in the century… There are few such buildings left and Duggan House represents a quality and character of housing of a pioneering family.” Frustrated by the destruction of Edmonton’s historic buildings in the name of progress, the association wanted to set an example of restoration for the city and for future developers.

Duggan House, overlooking the North Saskatchewan River valley, is a stately orange-brick home with substantial scale and an irregular roofline conveying the owner’s upper middle class prominence and discerning style. Diverse architectural detailing is apparent in the rusticated sandstone quoins and corbelled brick chimney, but the front gabled dormer with the oculus window and the Tuscan columns supporting the second floor balcony give the home its Classical Renaissance feel. Significant deterioration had occurred inside and out by the time the AAA purchased the house in 1981. In about 1940 the home had been converted to a duplex and the front porch was removed. Fortunately the home sat on a secure brick foundation. Restoration work involved rebuilding the front façade and verandah, restoring the wooden window frames and doors, refurbishing the interior, and bringing the work up to modern building code standards. There were, however, numerous original features that helped to recapture the early home’s great beauty. The interior includes the original wood floors, oak-finished stairwell and banister, two fireplaces, and Ionic columns which separate the foyer from the former drawing room. Outside, the solid oak front door and original bay windows were preserved, and only selective repairs were needed to the masonry.

John Joseph Duggan was already a successful businessman when he and his family moved to this address on Saskatchewan Drive. Duggan had immigrated to western Canada from his birthplace in Ontario and in 1891, at age twenty-three, he arrived in the new town of South Edmonton to work for his uncle Cornelius. Cornelius J. Duggan had established the first lumber yard in South Edmonton. John Duggan went on to run his own lumber operation, deal in agricultural equipment, invest in real estate, and farm and ranch in the South Edmonton subdivision which now bears his name. He also served on the first town council when South Edmonton incorporated and was renamed Strathcona in 1899. He was elected mayor twice in 1902 and 1903, and gained the position three times by acclamation later that decade. John Duggan and his wife Margaret Belle MacDonald were founding members of St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Strathcona, and Margaret was a charter member of local Catholic Women’s League. John Duggan died in 1952.

Details

Type

Residential

Designation Status

Provincial Historic Resource

Neighbourhood

Strathcona

Year Built

1907

Architects

Unknown

Architectural Styles

Classical Revival

Character Defining Elements

Three storeys or more , Brick structure , Hipped roof , Columns , Quoins , Balcony , Veranda , Chimney , Irregular footprint , Oculus window

Gallery

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