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Door closes on Hart House
Harts partying for last time in Stu's grand old mansion
By BRET HART - Calgary Sun
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The historic Hart Mansion.

Hart House has been sold. If only the walls could talk. They can't, so I will. To that extraordinary old house, I'd like to say, thanks for the memories. Growing up in the world of pro wrestling was zany and chaotic but Hart House was always a safe place. It was home.

The sturdy mansion was built in 1905 by Edward Henry Crandell, a brick baron who came from Ontario to settle in Calgary in 1899.

After the Crandell children were grown, the house became a refuge for orphans, run by the Red Cross until it gave up the lease.

Crandell's son moved back in with his own family until his brick business collapsed in the '30s. He turned the manor over to Judge H.S. Patterson, who raised his own children there until putting it on the market in '51.

My father fell in love with the estate on first sight and bought the house, along with the 30 acres atop Patterson Hill.

It wasn't long before the Harts turned this house of distinguished lineage into a cross between the Beverly Hillbillies and the Munsters -- filled with a cast of characters Barnum and Bailey would be hard-pressed to top.

Maybe not so oddly, the house was always a reflection of my father: Strong, sturdy, there for you in times of trouble. Warm.

The heart of Hart house was unquestionably the dining room. Every Sunday for 50 years, my parents delighted in throwing lavish feasts.

The Hart kids chewed the fat with an endless assortment of freaks, musclemen and giants, who found out at Hart House they were more normal than they thought.

The rest of the time the Hart kids generally ate in the kitchen, which Stu had equipped with the finest in second-hand restaurant ware from Calgary's best steakhouses and hotels.

Just to set the record straight, Dad did the cooking, Mom ran the office.

Stu grew up in the dirty '30s and, having known plenty of hunger, he was strict about wasting food. He got great satisfaction in filling 12 plates, with the older kids getting the bigger portions. He'd call us to dinner and we all would race to the table.

It wasn't that we were hungry, it was because the heaping portions were way too big for any of the youngsters, so the older boys would grab the smallest dishes and the littlest kids would be left there, for hours, finishing off giant plates of spaghetti while my father stood guard. Nobody went hungry at Hart house.

My poor mother completely gave up trying to be Susie Homemaker and we Hart kids knew as much about housekeeping as we did about rocket science. Most of the bedrooms were knee-high in clothes. I always figured if you didn't step on them, they were clean!

I slept in a room with five beds and as many brothers. Trying to sleep on school nights, or any night, was a lost cause.

It was all part of the routine, Stu slamming his hand on the wall the office shared with the boys' room telling us to knock it off.

So, after more than 50 years of celebrations, victories and losses, the credits are about to roll at Hart House. There's only one more hurrah before the final curtain call.

In keeping with my parents' long-standing open-door policy, you're all invited. On Aug. 14, from 2-6 p.m., a cover charge will benefit The Stu Hart Amateur Sport Foundation and space is limited. For tickets and info, call Frank Sisson's Silver Dollar Casino at 287-1183.


Visit the SLAM! Wrestling store!


  • Order Best of Stu Hart's Calgary Stampede Wrestling Vol. 1 VHS


    RELATED LINKS:
  • Nov. 28, 2003: Last hurrah for Hart house
  • Nov. 28, 2003: Famous Hart House up for sale
  • More on the Harts