'Hidden gem': Century-old Smeltzer House opens doors for rare Family Day tour
The century-old Smeltzer House, in Sherwood Park, opened its doors to the public on Family Day. Feb. 17, 2019. (John Hanson/CTV News Edmonton)
EDMONTON -- A century-old landmark in Strathcona County provided a warm welcome on a brisk Family Day for those seeking an art and history destination.
Smeltzer House, in Sherwood Park, is a designated historic resource hidden in plain sight for many in the Edmonton area. The former pioneer farmhouse is surrounded by the community that now celebrates it, but even its most ardent supporters know its not as well known as some other historic buildings.
“Smeltzer House is definitely a hidden gem,” says Lori Clapp, History and Heritage Specialist for the house. “It's nestled in the middle of a mature neighbourhood in Sherwood Park. The locals will know this house and it will be a favourite for them.”
Easy to miss behind a three-acre parcel of well treed land on Broadmoor Boulevard, the red brick walls and leaded glass windows are a respite from a busy world that swallowed up what was once a 480-acre farm.
When Maurice and Eliza Smeltzer built their family home in 1920, they could hardly have predicted it would become a destination for those wanting to learn the family’s history while also exploring the arts.
The site offers a range of creative classes during the year, with a ceramic studio and fused glass workshop occupying two smaller buildings on-site. This Family Day, experts offered demonstrations of their craft to steady crowds of enthusiastic visitors.
With a youngster in tow, Crysta Brown enjoyed the variety of activities.
“I wanted to come out and support the culture in Strathcona County, and it just got us out of the house on a cold winter day,” she said. “We’re very lucky to have a house like this here in Sherwood Park!”
Aside from the studios, handcrafts and storytelling filled rooms of the old homestead, while on the grounds, maple sugar taffy and ice carving craftsmen took advantage of a chilly but sunny day off for many families.
The house itself is not often open to interior tours, but for those wishing to walk its halls, the home’s centenary year will offer other opportunities. Smeltzer House will be open again July 8 during the Edmonton and District Historic week.
Until then, visitors are welcome to wander the grounds featuring botanic gardens and a gazebo, and explore the art class offerings.
“We’ve made good use of this house,” asserts historian Lori Clapp. “It's an old house but we’ve given it new life!”
Information on the historic house and its offerings can be found on Strathcona County's website.