As Lacombe is full of rich history, so are its houses.
And, on Aug. 24 around two-dozen Lacombians took advantage of the Lacombe & District Historical Society’s annual Heritage Home Tour.
Executive Director Marie Péron said the event goes hand in hand with the Historical Society’s mission to promote local history within the community. She added there is a lot to learn about local history by spending just a few minutes in a historic home.
“I think the houses are very telling of the people who lived there.” She went on to say that the houses are often a reflection of what the historical owner’s social status was and what they did in the society. Péron added that getting to tour these homes help people make a personal connection with the history.
“You get the feeling like you live there for a couple minutes,” said Péron.
The tour, which has been running since before Péron became involved with the Society in 2011, featured five houses including the Michener House Museum which was the starting point for the tour. After picking up their booklets at the museum, tour-goers then traveled to their other destinations where they were met by homeowners and/or volunteers of the Historical Society who were available to tell them more about the home’s history.
This year’s tour showcased the 1922 Owens residence at 5210 53 St., the 1912 residence at 5430 53 Ave., the early 1900s Puffer residence at 5224 C&E Tr. And the 1919 Morrison House at 5331 51 Ave.
The Owens residence, named as such for its first owner Percy C. Owens, was originally assessed at $350. Hard to believe this beautiful property was once worth less than the average renter pays in a month now. Between then and 1953, the house changed hands several times and the price fluctuated reaching as low as $320 to as high as $3,240 in that period.
Little is known about the origins of the 1912 residence now owned by Ellen Corea.
Over the years, the home has undergone extensive renovations to make it more modern, but the house still has a distinct historical feel in some areas. Now, Corea said she has plans to make modifications to the home that will further that historical feel by installing a staircase and claw-foot bathtub salvaged from another (now destroyed) home in Lacombe that was built during the same period.
William Puffer, the prominent businessman and politician, was who the Puffer house was built and named for. It was also used as a boarding home during the dirty 30s and dances used to be held for boarders in the kitchen of the home. Later still, the building was split into two apartments and current owner Lorraine Pearson has a historical photo of the home in her kitchen that shows the buildings two separate entrances.
Morrison House, now the Morrison House Café operated by current owners Cindy and Chuck Bourn, was the final stop of the Heritage Home Tour. Participants were treated to a tea at the café and shown around the home that once belonged to W. Norman and Bertha Morrison. Likely the largest and most expensive home to be built at the time, the Morrison House cost $12,000 to build in 1919.
Much of the information used in identifying homes for the Heritage Home Tour comes from the City of Lacombe’s heritage survey inventory. Péron added that, even with this spectacular resource at the Society’s disposal, it can sometimes be difficult finding historical information about the houses. She also said one can never tell what information might be found.
Péron said the Historical Society tries to feature different homes on the tour each year. She said that there have been some repeats, but the Society tries to avoid having them run consecutively.
“We always try to mix it up from year to year because there are so many homes to choose from,” said Péron. “We have so many homeowners in the community that are just so wonderful to work with so we try to give everyone that opportunity.”
Homes for the tour are chosen by the Historical Society who contact homeowners to find out if they are interesting in participating in the tour. Péron added that anyone who wishes to make their heritage home a part of the tour is welcome to contact the Lacombe & District Historical Society.