August 23rd, 2019

Former owners of the Tweed House want to see local history preserved

By Letter to the Editor on July 31, 2019.

Re: “Old owners try to save historic house,” July 17

As noted in the Medicine Hat News recently, the Tweed House at the corner of Division Avenue and First Street SW might soon be removed or destroyed. My husband and I were devastated upon hearing this news, after the sale was concluded. We thank Collin Gallant at the News for writing that article. We would like to give additional context by sharing our experience with this wonderful home in the hope that it may convince the community that its removal or destruction would be a great loss to the history of the city. We were the last owners before the house was sold to Nickel Developments at the end of May 2019.

Prior to this sale, my husband and I, who are currently in our early 70s, had owned the home since the early 1990s. At that time, it had already been converted into four apartments. We continued renting the apartments while making significant improvements to the property. Later on, we finished converting the home back into a single-family dwelling with an attached grandmother suite. Preserving the structural integrity of the house with meticulous attention to detail took my husband several years over the course, on a part-time basis. Unfortunately, in September 2017, a deliberate criminal fire was set on the property, causing us to lose time and effort. Ultimately, we felt that it would be best to sell the house in its damaged state. We conveyed to our realtor that the house should be sold to someone who would cherish its history. During the sale, our realtor informed us the new owners’ intentions were to keep the house and build a garage with an upstairs suite. Delighted to hear this, we agreed to sell. To our shock and dismay, in early July, we noticed that the developers had posted their plans on Facebook stating (and I paraphrase) that the home was available for sale … but the purchaser must be willing to pay for the move … and the company would give a discounted rate for the renovations.

After further investigation, we were disheartened to discover that the home could potentially be torn down and to have its lot divided into two, making way for the building of two duplexes. We shared this information with neighbours on First Street, many of whom have lived there for years. We remain grateful to friends and acquaintances who have tried their best at helping us in this cause. We are also overwhelmed with the vast positive comments on social media who support the saving of the house on its present location. We also thank Sally Sehn, of the Heritage in the Hat, who published a detailed column outlining the history of the Tweed family, in the Medicine Hat News on July 20.

We are grateful to owners in this city who preserve older homes (our present house dates to 1910) and to those who had their house designated as historic. One fine example is the 1887 Ewart Duggan house (said to be the oldest standing brick home in Alberta) which we, in partnership with the Stimsons, helped save and have the house designated as historic. Later on, through the generous philanthropy of I-XL Industries who later donated the house to the City of Medicine Hat under the stewardship of the Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre. And it stands proudly today adjacent to the Esplanade! Our wish is that the citizens, the home owners and the developers might do their part to see our local history preserved and lend credence to the city’s encouragement to visit our historic downtown.

Pat Auger-Iannattone

Medicine Hat

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