In its day, the Willson House would have been one of the finest residences in Red Deer.
Perched near the top of the Michener Hill off Ross Street, the home built in 1911 and lovingly restored more than once is up for sale.
Local historian Michael Dawe said the home was built by brothers Ernest and Arthur Willson at 5011 43rd St. during what was a heady time for Red Deer.
The population had exploded from 300 in 1900 to close to 3,000 by the time the house was built and two years before Red Deer became a city.
“The house was built for $3,500,” says Michael Dawe in a YouTube video posted on realtor Andrew Russell’s site.
“To put that into context … you could buy a reasonably good house in those days for under $1,000, and an average wage those days was $2 a day,” says Dawe.
It was built as a showpiece, from the best materials and all the extra touches that were so popular in the day, such as mouldings and finishes, and the five bedrooms were large by 1911 standards.
“You look at the detail — even in the radiators,” marvels Russell.
For those interested in owning a piece of Red Deer history, the price today is $469,900. Mark and Patty Marback, who have owned the home since 2012, are moving to B.C.
Red Deer’s first boom did not last. The First World War intervened and the Willsons sold it in 1917 to local merchant James Carscadden, who kept it until 1945, when it was sold to Benalto farm implement dealer Alfred James Foster and his wife.
From 1951 to 1953, the house was run as a seniors home called Grandview Villa.
Owners Garry and Wendy Kopeck completely renovated the home in the late 1990s.
“They numbered everything, pulled it out, refinished it and put it back in,” said Russell, who said it is rare that a historic home in this condition hits the market in Red Deer.
All of the plumbing, heating and electrical was brought up to date, and even the original lath and plaster walls were replaced with modern drywall.
The Willson House was designated a municipal historic resource in 2015, one of the few local buildings to be so recognized in recent years.
“That’s a reflection that not only is this a beautiful old house, it has a lot of history connected to it, and it’s something the community as a whole takes a great deal of pride in,” said Russell.