The Magrath Mansion is a two and one half-storey historical building situated on a large Highlands city lot overlooking the North Saskatchewan River providing amazing views year-round. It was built between 1912 and 1913 with a stately design strongly influenced by the Georgian Revival and Neoclassical architectural styles. The heritage value of the Magrath Mansion lies in its association with Edmonton's pre-World War One building boom.
Prominent features of the Magrath Mansion include the symmetrical front facade, two-storey colonnade supported by robust classical columns, hipped roof with gable dormers, and wraparound porch and balcony that expresses in its lavishness and scale the ebullient optimism.
In the years between the creation of the Province of Alberta in 1905 and the outbreak of World War One in 1914, Edmonton experienced substantial real estate, commercial and economic growth. Among the most significant figures during this time period were Bidwell Holgate and William J. Magrath, who both built mansions in this area. Unfortunately in the early 1930s, the Magrath family had fallen behind in the payment of property taxes and the home was seized by the local sheriff.
This entrepreneurial pair established a real estate company in 1909 and was involved in numerous projects to create residential areas for Edmonton's growing population. Their most ambitious undertaking was the creation, development, and promotion of Highlands, a subdivision located in the northeast Edmonton. Envisioned as an exclusive preserve of our municipality burgeoning entrepreneurial and professional class, Highlands was graced with such genteel luxuries as minimum building standards, streetcars, concrete sidewalks, street lighting, and sewer and water mains.
The impressive colonnade home with robust classical columns crowned by Ionic capitals is a bold expression of the Neoclassical architectural vision. The interior was equally ostentatious, graced by a variety of exotic materials - including mahogany, Italian marble, hand-painted silk and linen wallpaper, and Bohemian crystal. You will impress your friends with the architectural details like the French chandelier in the reception area, the winding oak staircase to the second floor, the fireplace faced with hammered brass in the library, and the intricately painted, and sculptured plaster ceiling in the dining room.
Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 323)