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 family made world famous for their accomplishments in professional wrestling. 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 (8,800 m2) 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. Sold to Stu Hart in 1951 for $25,000, the three story brick house has had many famous professional wrestlers as well as political and entertainment figures pass through its doors.
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. Members of the professional wrestling community around the world hold a great deal of appreciation and respect for the Hart House and the legacy it holds.
The Hart Family Dungeon, otherwise known simply as The Dungeon, is the basement of the Hart mansion. It is known as one of the most notorious training rooms in the world of athletics and 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 the legendary Bret and Owen Hart. Other famous Dungeon graduates include "Superstar" Billy Graham, Greg Valentine, Bad News Allen, Davey Boy Smith, Brian Pillman, Jushin Liger, Ricky Fuji, and Chris Benoit. Natalya Neidhart, daughter of Jim Neidhart, granddaughter of Stu, was the first ever woman to train at the Dungeon.
In 1990, when Chris Jericho and Lance Storm enrolled at the Dungeon, Ed Langley and Brad Young conducted their training. At this point, Stu Hart was not involved and the trainers simply relied on a book of his teachings. Langley reportedly taught them how to take falls constantly from about 500-1,000 times during some sessions. When Jericho brought this information to the attention of Bret Hart, Bret responded that he didn't know the Hart training was still active. Jericho later expressed dissatisfaction over the three month training course and felt that he and Storm had been snubbed by the Harts. Jericho elaborated that the only Hart they trained with was Keith for merely their first day and that they were never invited to Hart shows or celebrations. Regarding the training, he commented, "Nothing against Keith as a person but as a business it was a ripoff." However, Jericho also noted that he trained with Stu later on.
â 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. â
âChris 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 in severe pain. Bret also discusses the brutality his father would inflict on him and the morbid words Stu uttered as he tortured his teenage son. A bonus feature on Bret's DVD set also shows him discussing the Dungeon and its legendary status.
Various activities took place in the Dungeon, ranging from weight lifting to shoot 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.
After the death of Stu Hart on October 18, 2003, the ten remaining Hart siblings were forced to make the difficult choice of putting the Hart mansion up for sale. It was in need of great restoration and held high property taxes, the likes of which the family couldn't afford. Stu Hart also instructed in his will that his family not tear it down.
Prior to its sale, there was talk by the family of turning the house into a museum or bed and breakfast; however, this would likely have required zoning changes further diminishing the chances of securing protected status for the historic home. 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. As of spring 2010 the property was again for sale.