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Morrison House History and Architecture

    Original Owner: W. Norman and Bertha Morrison

    Contractor: Bert Newman

    Date of Construction: 1919

    Statement of Integrity

    The Morrison residence is in near original condition and has retained its original location, form, scale and massing, its wooden siding, and wooden-sash windows. The house is well maintained and is a key historic resource in the City of Lacombe.

    Description of Historic Place

    The Morrison residence is an elaborate two-storey Colonial Revival residence situated on 51st Avenue (Hamilton Avenue) a residential neighbourhood west of downtown in the City of Lacombe. This historic landmark is distinguishable by its symmetrical massing, high-pitched gambrel roof, prominent central eyebrow dormer, and central enclosed front entrance with balcony above.

    Heritage Value of Historic Place

    Constructed in 1919, the Morrison residence is an important heritage landmark in the community and is valued as a symbol of the growth of Lacombe’s economy during the inter-war period. The Morrison residence was the home of prominent local resident and entrepreneur, W. Norman Morrison. In partnership with James Johnston, Morrison operated the community’s first general store and subsequently opened M & J Hardware in 1906 located in Lacombe’s commercial center on 50th Avenue downtown. The prosperity of this business enabled the addition of a Ford motorcar repair shop and garage at the back of the shop in 1912. Morrison also owned Fox Farm between 1912 and 1920. He was additionally active in political circles, serving as mayor of Lacombe between 1917 and 1920, and was a founding member of the Board of Trade.

    The Morrisons lived in the house until the early sixties. Since that time it has been well-preserved by subsequent owners and served briefly as a tea house and etiquette school in 1995. Chuck and Cindy Bourn are the current residents, and they opened the Morrison House Cafe on the first floor in March of 2013.

    The residence is a reflection of the success of Morrison in the inter-war period. The Morrison residence is additionally valued as an outstanding example of Colonial Revival architecture, and is a rare example of the style in Lacombe. Built by prominent local contractor Bert Newman, the house was built for a cost of $12,000; it is likely that Newman adapted a pattern book design for the house. Typical of period revival houses, the Newman residence demonstrates the modern ideals of economy with solid design and quality materials. The symmetrical facade, eyebrow dormer, and front enclosed porch of the Morrison residence is a demonstration of the popular recreation of vernacular period revival styles between the two World Wars; a time of entrenched traditionalism and nostalgia. The historic dwelling has been well-maintained and continues to contribute to the historic character of the neighbourhood.

    Character-defining Elements

    Key elements that define the heritage character of the Morrison residence include its:

    • location on a residential lot with minimal set back from the property lines
    • form, scale and massing as expressed by its two-storey height; high-pitched gambrel roof with wall dormer and eyebrow dormer
    • wood-frame construction with wooden lapped siding
    • influences of Colonial Revival style such as: gambrel roof, central projecting enclosed porch, closed cornice returns, dentil moulding & 2nd storey balcony over central porch
    • original internal and external red-brick chimneys
    • original windows such as 6-over-1 single-hung wooden windows in single assembly and multi-paned wooden casement windows
    • original multi-paned front door
    • associated landscape features including red-brick path

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