November 28, 2003
Famous Hart House up for sale
By JASON CLEVETT -- SLAM! Wrestling
CALGARY -- With the passing of Stu Hart on October 18, 2003, his 10 remaining children were left with the decision of what to do with the historic Hart Mansion in Calgary\'s Patterson Heights. Although not an easy decision, the house has been put on the market with a price tag of $2 million, which includes a lot of its contents as well.
\"Before my Grandfather died, it was never a question. As long as he was alive, that was reason enough for us to keep it. He never would have lived anywhere else. After he passed away, it was pretty much for certain that we would have to sell it,\" said Nattie Niedhart, daughter of Jim \"The Anvil\" Niedhart and Ellie Hart. \"The house couldn\'t be left to just one person; it has to be divided up. The only person in the family who has the money to maintain the house is Bret, but with his stroke and such I don\'t believe he wants that responsibility.\"
The 5,600 square foot home, which sits on 2.17 acres of land, was purchased by Hart in 1951 for $25,000. Built in 1905 by businessman Edward Crandell, it was converted into the Soldiers\' Children\'s Home for Orphans in 1920. Judge Henry Stuart Patterson bought the home from the Crandells and later sold it to the Harts. It is a Historical Site and thus cannot be torn down, which is a relief to many fans and wrestlers who respect the history of the three story brick mansion. From Sunday dinners to the infamous Dungeon, the Hart House is one that has had the biggest and the best in wrestling walk through its doors, as well as various political and entertainment figures.
The house, which can be viewed at Remax\'s website www.mls.ca, is in need of approximately $500,000 in restorations. The plumbing for example is about as old as the house. In addition the regular upkeep costs and property taxes run about $13,000 a month, all of which makes it too steep for the remaining members of the family to keep. Family friend Gordon Stewart is handling the sale.
Some are surprised that the price tag is low considering the value of the land around it and the legend of the home.
\"Stu and Helen left it in their will that they never wanted the house torn down, and it can\'t be because it is a historical site. It would be great if a wrestling fan had the money, but the fact is that the only people who have the money to invest are developers. They can\'t do what they want with the land. They would want to tear it down, it would be easier to do that than invest the money to restore it, and so that makes it less appealing. To a developer, they don\'t care that it\'s the Hart House,\" said Niedhart, who resides on the property herself. One of the interested parties is a developer who wants to keep the house intact with condos surrounding it.
\"The developer wants to do something really special with it. He wants to do something he can put his name on and be proud of,\" Remax\'s Stewart told the Calgary Herald.
Featuring 22 rooms, four fireplaces, five chandeliers from Edmonton\'s historic McDonald Hotel, two porches, a view of downtown, and a Coach House behind the main house, the property is not likely to be on the market for long. There have already been two buyers expressing interest in the property. The future of the house is up in the air, there was talk of it being turned into a museum, while some fans and wrestlers have expressed an interest in seeing it turned into a bed and breakfast, something that would surely draw wrestling fans from around the world.
\"I would love that, but the difficulty in having a museum or a B&B is it would have to be re-zoned and such. The house is in a residential area, so issues such as high traffic and privacy have to be taken into consideration,\" she said.
The other question that many wonder is what will become of the Hart Brothers Training Camp that still runs three times a week in the basement dungeon?
\"When we can\'t be in the house anymore, we will have to find a new \"Dungeon. It is a monument to the people that have come out of it, being in the basement. But the essence of the Dungeon is whoever is in it. As far as I am concerned, the Dungeon will always be wherever my good friends and I train. It\'s four walls, a floor and a mat. Putting our heart into it is what makes it special,\" Niedhart, the first female third generation pro wrestler concluded.
Jason Clevett is a Calgary-based writer who has been fortunate to have
been to the Hart House on numerous occasions. He can be emailed at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.