Hart House (Alberta)
The Hart House is a residence located in the Patterson Heights neighbourhood of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Once owned by Stu Hart, it was home to his extensive professional wrestling family. While no longer under ownership of the Harts, the mansion continues to be referred to as the Hart House.
The 5,600-square-foot (520 m2) home, sitting on 2.17 acres (0.88 ha) of land, was built in 1902 by businessman Edward Crandell. It was converted into the Soldiers' Children's Home for Orphans in 1920 and then bought by Judge Henry Stuart Patterson from the Crandells. It was sold to Stu Hart in 1951 for $25,000. In its Hart-owned state, it featured twenty-two rooms, four fireplaces, five chandeliers from Edmonton's historic McDonald Hotel, two porches, a view of downtown Calgary, and a coach house behind the main house.
After the death of Stu Hart on October 16, 2003, the ten remaining Hart siblings put the Hart mansion up for sale. Alison Hart gave several tours of the home to guests before finally handing down ownership of the $2 million home. In June 2006, preservation plans for the mansion were defused in a tied 7-7 vote, leaving it susceptible to demolition. In October, however, a revised plan was authorized for thirteen townhouses to be built around the mansion as well as its restoration. Construction was stated to begin in summer 2007, but these plans were never implemented. Although the property went up for sale again in spring 2010, it was not sold. In December 2012, it was designated as a municipal heritage site by the City of Calgary as part of a development deal which also allowed the owner to build nine houses with secondary suites on the Hart House's undeveloped grounds.
The Hart Family Dungeon, otherwise known simply as The Dungeon, is the basement of the Hart mansion. It was established by Stu shortly after his founding of Stampede Wrestling in 1948; although, the nickname itself developed over time.
Aside from professional wrestlers, the Dungeon provided training grounds for various athletes from strongmen to football players. The majority of Hart's sons trained in the Dungeon and went on to become involved in the wrestling world including Bret and Owen Hart. Other famous Dungeon graduates include Billy Graham, Greg Valentine, Allen Coage, Davey Boy Smith, Brian Pillman, Jushin Thunder Liger, Ricky Fuji, Chris Jericho, Lance Storm, Chris Benoit, Justin Credible, Edge, Christian and Mark Henry. Natalya, daughter of Jim Neidhart and granddaughter of Stu, was the first ever woman to train at the Dungeon. The final graduate of the Hart Dungeon was Tyson Kidd (now Natalya's husband).
|“||I take a lot of pride in being one of the last guys that had the hands-on training from Stu Hart when I went to the Hart family to train . . . It was a good experience just to be there, to imagine all the people that had been through there, and all the blood, sweat, and tears that had been paid . . . Going to the Hart family for training was kind of like, if you're a very religious person, going to the Vatican.||”|
— Chris Benoit, WWE Unscripted, p. 54
One of the first televised acknowledgements, if not the first such acknowledgement, of the nickname "Dungeon" was by then WWF color commentator Jesse Ventura. Its first significant exposure was in the documentary Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows. In it, the Dungeon was moderately filmed for the first time and Stu Hart is shown demonstrating wrestling holds on a pupil. Bret also discusses being trained by his father and having submission holds applied to himself, often with graphic descriptions from his father of the holds' impact. A bonus feature on Bret's DVD set also shows him discussing the Dungeon.
Various activities took place in the Dungeon, ranging from weight lifting to Catch wrestling. Bret Hart has described the Dungeon in interviews as having holes in the walls and ceiling from bodies being driven into them. He also noted that practices could, at times, be as intense as MMA styled fighting. In July 1998, the WWF filmed a match between Owen Hart and Ken Shamrock in the Dungeon for the Fully Loaded pay-per-view. Leading up to the Hart House's sale in 2003, the Hart Brothers Training Camp still ran three times a week. A very similar training camp remains today at the family's gym, although none of the Hart brothers are involved. Students are, however, trained in the classic Dungeon style.
- "Hart mansion goes back on the block". CBC News. May 14, 2010. Retrieved 2014-05-15.
- Markusoff, Jason (December 4, 2012). "City council allows development around Hart house". Calgary Herald. Retrieved 2014-05-15.
- "Calgary's Hart House to be declared a heritage site". CBC News. December 3, 2012. Retrieved 2014-05-15.