Alberta family giving away 123-year-old house with a Hollywood connection

·2 min read
Mike Wilman hopes to give away a century-old house that his family has owned for years. (Madeleine Cummings/CBC - image credit)
Mike Wilman hopes to give away a century-old house that his family has owned for years. (Madeleine Cummings/CBC - image credit)

A century-old house is up for grabs in Strathcona County as an Alberta family searches for someone willing to move it off their lot.

The Craftsman semi-bungalow sits on a 150-acre parcel of land northeast of Sherwood Park and the Yellowhead Highway.

Mike Wilman said his family has owned the house for more than a decade but they no longer want it and would like to see it go to someone who appreciates its history.

"It would be such a shame to see it just get destroyed by weather," he said.

First the family tried donating the house to Fort Edmonton Park, which has streets devoted to the late-19th and early-20th centuries, but Wilman said the heritage park did not want another 1890s-era home.

Wilman then posted ads for a free house on Facebook Marketplace and Kijiji.

So many people responded that Wilman has temporarily stopped answering new inquiries.

Vacant since last year, and stripped of some of its interior features, the house has seen better days, but the family believes its bevelled glass windows and pocket door could be original.

According to their property summary report from Strathcona County, the 1.5-storey home was built in 1898 and has a living area of 156 square metres.

Neighbour Barry Fraser, whose mother used to own the house, said she had it moved from the University of Alberta area in 1964.

Madeleine Cummings/CBC
Madeleine Cummings/CBC

Fraser, who is 85, did not live in the house but remembers its hardwood floors, oak doors and stone fireplace.

"Everything was top-of-the line," said Fraser, who inherited some of the home's furniture.

After his mother died, Fraser said he hired a Realtor from Sherwood Park and put the house up for sale.

It sold within three weeks, he said, and one of the bidders was from Marseilles, France.

House hosted Hollywood stars

The house was one of the locations for the 2014 American thriller Cut Bank, starring Liam Hemsworth, Billy Bob Thornton and John Malkovich.

Though named after the city in Montana, the movie was filmed in and around Edmonton, as well as in the village of Innisfree, where a giant penguin statue left by the crew still stands.

In a pivotal scene, Hemsworth's girlfriend — a pageant queen played by Teresa Palmer — wanders through the old house's kitchen before another character holds a gun to her head.

How much to move it?

Wayne Warkentin, who owns Warkentin Building Movers, said he has visited the property and fielded inquiries about it.

He estimates it would cost between $30–60,000 to move the house, plus the cost of any power line lifts and third-party charges.

"The move itself is very doable," he said, with Alberta's high load corridors accommodating buildings of its size on some provincial highways.

Though moving the building won't be cheap, Wilman hopes someone takes it on.

"We don't want it to go to waste," he said.

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