Allen Bungalow & Gardens
The Allen Bungalow

The Allen Bungalow is one of the few remaining pre-World War One “grand” houses in the City of Red Deer. It was constructed in 1912 by Archibald W. Allen, a prominent local accountant, with Lawrence M. Gotch of Calgary as the architect. The house is an excellent example of an Edwardian bungalow and was designed so as to make the most of its location next to the Red Deer River and the East Hill Escarpment. The residence also reflects the concepts and ideals advanced by Mr. Allen and Mr. Gotch in the “City Beautiful” planning proposals, which were adopted by the City of Red Deer in 1912–1913.

As it was built on the fringe of the City, the residence later became a farm home, owned first by the Busby family, who operated the River Glen Dairy, and later by Ronald and Mattie McCullough, who were very prominent in local affairs and were noted Aberdeen Angus breeders. In 1982, the Red Deer Regional Planning Commission in the Waskasoo Park Master Plan identified the Allen Bungalow as a potential historic resource. After a Historic Resources Impact Assessment, prepared for the entire park project, confirmed the historical significance of the residence, the house and property were acquired by The City of Red Deer in 1984 for the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary project of the Waskasoo Urban Park.

In 1985, the house, which had been divided into a series of small apartments, was extensively renovated at a cost of more than $90,000. The structure was converted into the Waskasoo Park Naturalist’s residence and a public meeting facility. Great care was taken by the architects, Bill Boucock Partnership, to do a “sympathetic renovation” of the house. This made the Allen Bungalow resemble its original exterior appearance, without being exactly restored to its original design. It is approximately 3300 square feet or 307 square metres.

In November 1985, the architectural significance of the Allen Bungalow was recognized when it was designated as a registered historic resource by the provincial Minister of Culture. Grants were consequently made available by the Provincial Government for the renovation project.

The Allen Bungalow has proven to be a great success. It is an excellent example of a restored historic structure becoming an integral part of a new development. Its use as a residence greatly assists in the management of both the Kerry Wood Nature Centre and the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary. The public meeting space helps to attract natural history organizations and other non-profit community groups to the complex, while at the same time providing some revenue to defray the maintenance costs. There are approximately eighty thousand visitors to the Nature Centre/Sanctuary/Allen Bungalow complex each year.

The success of the Allen Bungalow was recognized by the Alberta Historical Resources Foundation when it awarded its 1991 Architectural Heritage Award to the project for being “an outstanding example of small scale architectural restoration in Alberta.”

Who was Archibald W.G. Allen?

Archibald W.G. Allen was the son of the Captain W.T. Allen, R.N. Retired, and Mrs. Margaret Allen, of Erith, Kent, England. He was an accountant: married with four children.

In 1904 he opened an office in Red Deer, in the Advocate chambers, where for several years he conducted his own accounting business. Following this he entered the employ of Western General Electric for a while, leaving that position to again open his own accounting office, this time in the Smith and Gaetz block.

From 1914 until the outbreak if the First World War, Mr. Allen was involved with much of the business and social administration of the burgeoning community of Red Deer, and until he enlisted in the armed forces, shortly after the war began, he served the community in many capacities: he was appointed official auditor for the City of Red Deer in 1908 and through the years was Secretary Treasurer of the Agricultural Society, the Red Deer Exhibition and the Memorial Hospital Board, Secretary of the Alberta Union of Municipalities, Treasurer of the Red Deer Rifle Association, and President of the Horticultural Society. 

In May 1911, Mr. Allen was appointed as one of the census takers for Red Deer. In 1913, he was appointed auditor for the Village of North Red Deer and in 1914 he and Mr. F.J. Boyce appeared before the City Council asking for support to establish a public library.

Mr. Allen’s military service was with the 187th Infantry Battalion in France and he contracted nephritis in 1918 and was invalided to England.

After the war Mr. Allen returned to Red Deer and for a while resided in a house in the Waskasoo sub-division, overlooking the Red Deer River, which he built in 1912. (The contractor for the house was T.S. Miller. In 1931 this house was sold to H. Busby.)

In 1920 Mr. Allen accepted employment in Calgary, in the City Assessor’s office. So, he and his family moved there, leaving elder son Blake to operate the farm at Pine Lake, the farm where Mrs. Blake and the children lived while Mr. Allen was away at war.

In 1923 Blake Allen and Edith Anne Pierce were married in Red Deer. In 1927, W. Harold Allen and Bertha Pierce were united in marriage in Calgary.

Mr. and Mrs. Archibald Allen settled in the Okanogan Valley, B.C. in the early 1930s, where they were engaged in fruit farming.

-Red Deer and District Archives:
D.M. Carlyle, July 7th, 1982

Feb 9th 1916

Judge J.J. Dahaffy
Medicine Hat

Dear Sir,

Replying to your favor of 4th inst received yesterday following I beg to give you a description of my Wife’s property. This property is part of the N.E. 4 21-38-27-W of 4th N.E. of the City of Red Deer. It takes me about 25 minutes to walk from the Post Office to home. I am sending you a blueprint showing the location. There is a good road, called Riverside Drive, which passes right by the house. We are on the bank of the Red Deer River and command some of the most beautiful views around here.

The house is an eight-room frame bungalow. Outside ground measurement 58’ 6” by 48’ 8” built on solid concrete foundation, walls 410” at top. There is a very fine basement 51’ 2” by 37’ 10” comprising a large laundry, pantry store room, furnace room, and other store room, and two large coal cellars which will hold 40 tons of coal or more. Floors in this basement are concrete and the dividing walls are shiplap on studding.

On ground floor are, living room 19’ 5” by 15’, dining room 16’ by 15’, kitchen 14’ by 13’ with a large pantry 8’ by 7’ and a dumb waiter to basement pantry.
A passage 5’ wide separates this portion of the house from the bedrooms which are on the north side of the house. There are four bedrooms, one 12’ 6” by 12’, two 12’ by 9’ and one 12’ 6” by 11’ and a library 11’ square.

There is a bathroom with a bath and wash basin and two W.Cs, one each end of the passage.

All wash basins, toilets and the wash tubs in the laundry are the usual enamel-ware installed in modern houses.

We pump our own water from a well 30’ from the house by gasoline engine into a pressure tank placed in the basement and thus have water all over the house, both hot and cold, the hot water being heated by tank connected with kitchen range. Water closets are connected to a septic tank.

The house is wired ready for electric light and the Western General Electric Company have promised to give both light and phone on certain arrangements being made.

The house is heated by hot water systems (Honeywell) and has been satisfactory.
I am sending you a set of plans of the house so that you can get a better idea of the layout. You will see that there are two large verandahs, one on the north and the other on the south. There is a porch over the front door and also over the back door.

Ceilings are 8’ 10”. There is ample room in the roof for more rooms. A very fine billiard room could be made up there. It is not finished off at the present. In the living room is an open fireplace. This is a beautiful room and has been admired by most folks who have been in it. Beside the house there is a large poultry house, which cost me $1,000 to build, and there are some sheds which I have used for stables for cows and horses. Most of the 124 acres have been cultivated and we have always had a fine garden. The soil is a light sandy loam which we have found produce well. You can see from the enclosed photos that we have grown some good things here. Strawberries we have had ever since we have been here now 13 years. All garden truck does well. Even corn has ripened and we have used our own seed of the squaw variety.
Description of the Allen House
Photo from Red Deer and District Archives
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