In this then and now post we’ll be checking out Calgary’s historic Lougheed House, a fine looking palatial mansion, over a hundred and twenty years old. The first image is from 1914 and comes from a vintage postcard, the second, taken a century later by the BIGDoer.com crew, shows how it looks today. As you can plainly see, the building, visually, has changed very little over the years and it’s almost as though time here has stood still.
Lougheed House, sometimes referred to as Beaulieu (French, roughly translating to Beautiful Place), was constructed in 1891 for senator James Lougheed, a prominent politician and businessman. Its location is the beltline district directly south of downtown (note: when built Calgary’s population was several thousand, today it’s 1.2 million!). Locally sourced sandstone, solid, beautiful and fireproof, was used throughout. The building was expanded upon in 1907.
The residence remained in the Lougheed family for a number of decades and was a hub for many grand social events during those years. In the 1930s, it was foreclosed upon and came under the ownership of the city. For the next several decades it was used as a training centre for nurses.
In the 1970s the province took control, at the same time listing the building as a recognized historic resource (later it was nationally designated). For a time it sat empty.
In the late 1980s, plans were put in place to restore the building to its former glory. It took some time before the work actually started and many more years before it was completed.
Opened in the mid-2000s, Lougheed House is now a museum with an attached restaurant. The expansive grounds that surround the mansion are comprised of wonderful gardens and public green spaces, but these are not really seen from our angle. Perhaps we’ll revisit them in spring to shoot some photos. The group that oversees the building today is the Lougheed House Conservation Society.
Looking closely the only elements of the house to differ between the then and now photos is the area by the low fence in front. It looks the same but has been moved outwards while the ground around it has been built up and leveled. No other architectural elements seem to have changed. The neighbourhood, well that’s another story – it was a well-to-do part of town back then, but is more middle class now with lots of high density housing in place.
The old image is from a postcard, scanned and submitted to us by a reader, Carol from the Calgary Public Library. She’s sent an image like this before to use in a then and now post. Carol states the card has a print date of 1914 and that it was manufactured in Great Britain.
The postcard is tinted. Simply, it’s a black and white picture which by hand and using a stencil, is given a thin wash of translucent paints after printing, to make it appear as thought shot in colour. This method was used a lot in the postcard industry in the first half of the twentieth century. Starting in the 1940s or thereabouts, full colour printing came into widespread use.
If you have an old postcard like the one seen here and would like us to visit the location seen in it, to check out what things looks like today, and then document it all in this website, drop us a line. We can accept actual cards (they will get returned) or scanned copies.
Our photo was lined up in camera and was not manipulated in post production to make it fit better. We’ve developed a technique which works well, that helps us get real close to the composition of the old photo. This one is not one of our best, not by a long shot, but is still pretty good. Anyway, we had fun doing it!
If you wish more information on what you’ve seen here, by all means contact us!
Date: December, 2014.
Location: Calgary, AB.
The grounds seen in this report are publicly accessible.