City celebrates opening of historic Yorath House

People take a tour during the grand opening of the renovated Yorath House in Sir Wildfred Laurier Park in Edmonton, on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. Photo by Ian Kucerak/Postmedia Ian Kucerak / Postmedia

A historic home nestled in the heart of the river valley has officially opened after undergoing restoration.

On Friday, the City of Edmonton celebrated the official opening of Yorath House after it had gone through $5.7 million in renovations that expanded the house and transformed it into a historical landmark and destination to be rented for special occasions.

Yorath House, located in Buena Vista Park, was sold to the city in 1992 by the family that has lived there since it was built in 1949. After sitting vacant for years, in 2015, the city designated it as a Municipal Historic Resource to ensure the protection of its original features, including the exterior cladding, the staircase and fireplace.


People take a tour during the grand opening of the renovated Yorath House in Sir Wildfred Laurier Park in Edmonton, on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. Photo by Ian Kucerak/Postmedia

Ian Kucerak / Postmedia

“The city bought the house because they saw the value in such a beautiful historic home in the heart of the river valley, which is very rare and unique in the city of Edmonton, outside of any established neighbourhood,” said Rhonda Norman, director of river valley and horticultural facilities.

“We really saw the vision of having the value of a really beautiful space that would eventually be available for the public to use.”

Yorath House has been upgraded to meet today’s building standards. There were upgrades to utilities including replacing the water, gas, power and sewage systems and upgrading the washrooms and kitchen.

To improve accessibility, an elevator has been installed and an additional staircase to the second floor that meets current codes.

The house has a main floor event space, a second-floor multi-purpose space with a large terrace, a second-floor meeting room with a small terrace and a large outdoor event space.


People take a tour during the grand opening of the renovated Yorath House in Sir Wildfred Laurier Park in Edmonton, on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. Photo by Ian Kucerak/Postmedia

Ian Kucerak / Postmedia

Elizabeth Yorath-Welsh grew up in Yorath House and lived there for about 30 years.

“They’ve done an amazing job. When I saw the outside and the colour and whatnot, because it used to be a reddish stain, I was blown away because it looks so much better. I just love it,” said Yorath-Welsh.

“I am thrilled to see this can be put to good use again and I was delighted. I was here a few weeks ago and saw they had it set up for a wedding, so that was really nice.”

Norman said the city wanted the space to be able to be used for programs such as photography, meditation and outdoor activities such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

It’s also available for private rentals such as weddings, corporate events and birthday parties.

ajunker@postmedia.com