“Cornerstones” were articles that appeared in the Sunday edition of the Calgary Herald between 1997 and 2000. The following article appeared November 23, 1997.
Coste House (see Coach House)
• 2208 Amherst St. S.W.
• Built: 1912 -1913
• Architect: Owner Eugene Coste probably designed the house.
• Original owner: Eugene Coste was a pioneer of the discovery of natural gas in Alberta, a geologist and engineer born in Ontario and educated in France. He came west in 1908 as a consulting engineer with the Canadian Pacific Railway and in 1909 discovered the Bow Island gas field. He leased the field from the CPR in 1912 and founded the Canadian Western Natural Gas, Light Heat and Power Company.
• Contractor: Rutty and Weare of Calgary
• Original cost: $50,000
• Construction materials: Brick, sandstone and timber. Red clay tiled gable roof. Lead glass casement windows.
• Architectural style: Tudor Revival
• Original interior details: Coste designed the home to suit his personal tastes with rich walnut, oak and mahogany panelling, spectacular reception hall, games rooms, billiard room, music room, wine cellar and conservatory. The interior was rich with ornamented mouldings and carved woodwork completed by craftsmen Coste brought to Canada. Imported marble and tile from France and Italy was used throughout the house. House was decorated with gilded mirrors and crystal chandeliers. Heated with natural gas. Brass bells in the kitchen summoned the maids to the rooms of "Miss Gabrielle, Miss Marie, Mr. Dillon and Mr. Coste".
• October 1911 Coste bought lots 10 and 11 from CPR for $10,500
• July 1912 bought lot 9 from CPR for $7,200
• The 28 room house was strategically built on two acres of landscaped grounds in the heart of Mount Royal. Other buildings on the property included an elaborate one and a half storey brick coach house, two-storey dower house for his widowed mother-in-law, Louisa Tims. A large greenhouse was used to propagate plants for the grounds which were maintained by a full-time gardener.
• In 1922 Coste left Calgary after the death of his son Dillon and moved to Toronto.
Coste offered the estate(valued at $75,000) to the City of Calgary with the provision that it be used as a hospital for sick children. City Commissioners declined the offer.
1924 Coach House sold to Maurice and Hilda Groberman.
• In 1935 the City took possession of the property and buildings for non payment of taxes.
For a short time in 1936, Coste House was used to display some of the 7,500 artifacts from the Civic Museum's collection.
• From 1939 to 1946 the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art used the Coste House as temporary quarters for the art and dressmaking programs when No. 2 Wireless School took over the Institute's buildings and campus for the duration of the war.
• After the war (March 1945) the City Planning Commission recommended that Coste House be demolished and the property subdivided into seven residential lots. Lawyer J.E.A. Macleod acting on behalf of the Calgary Art Association successfully argued to retain Coste House for use as a cultural centre.
• Between 1946 and 1959 the Allied Arts Council, under the direction of business manager Archie Key, leased the building for use as a cultural centre for $100 a month from the City of Calgary. Funded primarily by private donations and in part by civic financing extensive renovations were undertaken by volunteers and a tea room with a "club-like" atmosphere was opened on the main floor. The officers of the Council in 1946 included: President Alexander Calhoun, vice-president Douglas Doherty and secretary - treasurer F.D. Motter.
• 800 visitors attended the opening on September 8, 1946.
• Coste House provided space for art exhibits and theatrical productions, office space for cultural clubs, a centre for continuing education and a hobby centre. The grounds were used for outdoor productions where a temporary theatre was constructed.
• The Arts Centre played a significant role in supporting the development of performers and artists in Calgary, building the foundation for the vibrant arts community of present day. In 1959 the Arts Centre moved to a downtown warehouse and shortly after disbanded.
• In 1960 the house reverted to private ownership when it was sold by the city. Between 1960 and 1974 the property had three owners; lawyer George McKim in 1960, Maurice McCaig in 1972 and Gunther Kockerbeck in 1974.
• In 1978 Coste House sold for $750,000 to Bob Lamond chairman of Czar resources.
The three properties including the original Coste House, the Dower House and the Coach House were subdivided over the years. All three buildings are privately owned residences.
This “Cornerstones” article appeared November 30, 1997.
Coach House (See also Coste House)
• 2224 Amherst St.S.W.
• Built: 1912
• Architect: ?
• Contractor: Rutty and Weare.
• Original owner: Eugene Coste, a geologist and engineer, pioneered the discovery of natural gas in Alberta. Born in Ontario and educated in France, he came west in 1908 as a consulting engineer with the Canadian Pacific Railway and in 1909 discovered the Bow Island gas field. He leased the field from the CPR in 1912 and founded the Canadian Western Natural Gas, Light, Heat and Power Company.
• Construction materials: Brick, batten and stucco. Half timbered details on gables. Sandstone trim. Partial concrete foundation and basement. Pressed tin roof in a clay tile pattern replicated the red clay roof of the Coste Mansion.
• Architectural style: Tudor Revival.
• Original interior details: Grease pit, gas pumps. A separate entrance provided access to the chauffeur's quarters which were on the main floor and included a living room and kitchen. Two bedrooms and a bathroom were located on the upper floor. The living quarters featured beamed ceilings and plastered walls.
• Coste purchased lot 9 where the Coach House was built from the Canadian Pacific Railway in July 1912 for $7,200.
• The Coach House was an integral part of the two acre Coste Estate which also included a 28 room mansion, a Dower House for Coste's widowed mother-in-law, a greenhouse and landscaped gardens.
• It was among the first "auto sheds" built in Mount Royal specifically designed for automobiles, not horse drawn carriages.
• The one and one-half storey brick structure included living quarters for the chauffeur and a service area for automobiles.
• The front apron of the garage consisted of two large archways opening to massive oak doors.
• In 1922, Eugene Coste left Calgary and moved to Toronto. Coste offered the entire estate; property and buildings to the City of Calgary with the provision that it be used as a hospital for sick children. The offer was declined.
• Coste's long time chauffeur, Lancelot Dobson, remained behind in Calgary. He continued living in the Coach House until 1935 when ownership of the Coste Estate including the Mansion, Coach House and surrounding property reverted to the City of Calgary for non-payment of taxes.
• During the War (1939 -1946) when the estate was used by the Provincial Institute of Technology, now S.A.I.T., the Coach House was rented to artist and art instructor Henry Glyde.
• In 1960, Calgary lawyer, George McKim purchased the estate, including the Coach House and carried out some renovations.
• 1960 to 1975 the Coach House was used as a garage and guest house.
• In 1975 the estate was subdivided and ownership of lot 9 and the Coach House transferred to Herbert Grant Marshall from Mr. Kockerbeck.
• 1975 - extensive renovations. Addition of fireplaces, bathroom and kitchen. Oak floors installed. Walls stripped down to old brick. Concrete foundation removed, windows moved. Exterior archways glassed in. Original oak doors refitted.
• between 1975 and 1990 the property changed ownership twice.
• Coach House has now been returned to its original function as a garage and is privately owned.
• For more information see the Cornerstone Column on the Coste House.