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Firm: J. A. Cawston

Address: 629 Hillcrest Avenue SW

Date of final plans: August 1956

Status: standing as built

Only a few years after King Houston built his first house on Hillcrest Avenue (see here), he purchased the empty lot across the street and hired Jack Cawston to design him a new house. The result was, in my estimation, one of the best mid-century houses in Calgary. The roof has an ultra-low 12/2 pitch giving the house an intimate, grounded feel embematic of mid-century design in general. On the front façade the garage and office include tall slit windows embedded in Manitoba limestone facing. The main floor has three bedrooms, a den, and a built-in garage.

Unfortunately, today the house doesn't present as well as it should. The garage is hidden behind a spruce tree and a garage addition has been built next to it, while the covered entrance has been closed in. Additionally, the house is now painted in a decided un-1950s grey-brown. Nevertheless, the Cawston design hasn't otherwise been tampered with.

Given this is one of only maybe a half-dozen Cawston houses that survive today – and one of the best among them – I can't understand why it isn't on the city's heritage register. As one of the finest surviving works by Calgary's foremost mid-century architect, this house really needs to be protected.



King Henderson Houston (1897-1965) was born on 15 December 1897 in Petrolia, Ontario to King Houston (1843–1913) and Annabelle Henderson (1865–1951). In 1923 he went to Iran to work as an oil driller and then worked in Negritos, Peru with the International Petroleum Company. In 1938 he came to Turner Valley to work as a production superintendent for Royalite Oil Company. He later became Vice President of Royalite and settled in Calgary. In 1955 he formed Petrolia Drilling Company with Fred Cameron before retiring in 1959. Houston was a member of Grace Presbyterian Church and the Calgary Petroleum Club.

In 1925 Houston married Beatrice Ellen Blythe (1903–1966) in London, Ontario. They had one daughter, Patricia.

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