Old Red Deer Courthouse - Red Deer, AB
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member ScroogieII
N 52° 16.140 W 113° 48.679
12U E 308179 N 5794681
Quick Description: Completed in 1931 using a 1907 design, the Old Red Deer Courthouse was the last classically detailed courthouse to be built in the province, serving as the centre of justice for Red Deer and area until 1983.
Location: Alberta, Canada
Date Posted: 6/25/2020 3:49:28 PM
Waymark Code: WM12PA9
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Weathervane
Views: 2

Long Description:
The official grand opening of the the old courthouse took place March 6th, 1931. While construction on Red Deer's first courthouse began in 1904, because of various construction problems the facility did not officially open until March 1906. By this time, the Province of Alberta had been officially created. With the administration of justice now a provincial responsibility, arrangements were made for the provincial government to lease a portion of the building for court facilities. However, in 1915, the federal government decided to turn the Dominion Lands Office/Court House building into a post office for Red Deer. Consequently, the province was forced to look for new space.

While the province was able to lease space in an old blue jean factory, this was not really suitable nor adequate for the needs of the community. Nonetheless, the arrangement continued for another 15 years before the provincial government gave serious consideration to the construction of a new courthouse. It was the onset of the "Great Depression", combined with a hotly contested upcoming election, which provided the impetus. Make-work projects, such as the construction of government buildings, were the perfect vehicles with which to ensure reelection for the incumbents.

The major problem the province faced in building a new courthouse in Red Deer was "Where to put it". Several proposals and land swaps were considered before the final choice was made, the courthouse ultimately being placed on the northeast corner of Ross Street and 49 Avenue.

As a side note, the actual design of the building was laid out in 1907, shortly after the creation of the Province of Alberta, at a time of much government construction in the province. For various reasons, the Red Deer courthouse project was shelved for over two decades, until political necessity again brought it to the fore. The 1907 plans were used for the 1930-31 Red Deer Courthouse, by which time more modest design had become the norm, making it the last classically designed courthouse to be built in the province.

Following is text from an Alberta Historical Marker at the courthouse.

Old Court House The austere brick walls and Tyndall limestone columns of the Old Court House convey a sense of awe. This was intentional, as the building's Classical Revival style was meant to give the impression of power and civilization —attributes designed to garner public respect for the young province of Alberta and its new judicial system.

Completed in 1931, the court house served the central Alberta area for over five decades. Inside the impressive structure, a terrazzo staircase led to the 1,300 square foot courtroom on the second floor. The main floor housed court offices, a law library and judges' chambers. Both the Provincial Court and the Court of Queen's Bench operated out of the building until 1983.

When it was no longer needed for legal purposes, the building was used as a community arts centre for several years; it now houses businesses and professional offices. The Old Court House has been designated a Provincial Historic Resource.
Old Red Deer Courthouse
This building was designed by D. MacDonald, provincial superintendent of buildings. It is the last courthouse in Alberta to be designed incorporating classically inspired detailing, and as such marks the end of an entire tradition of building in Alberta. It is important also in that it broke with the tradition of using local material by incorporating Tyndall limestone from Manitoba.

Description of Historic Place
The Old Red Deer Courthouse is a landmark two-storey brick building in the Classical Revival style constructed in 1931. It is located on four city lots on the northeast corner of Ross Street and 49th Avenue in downtown Red Deer.

Heritage Value
The Old Red Deer Courthouse's significance lies in its status as the last Alberta courthouse built in the Classical Revival style. It represents the end of a marked tradition in Alberta courthouse architecture that developed from 1907 to 1912.

Based on a standard Alberta Public Works plan, it was designed under the supervision of D.E. MacDonald, provincial General Superintendent of Buildings. Like many public and commercial buildings of the period, its monumental style and classical detailing (and, more unusually, the use of Tyndall limestone specially imported from Manitoba) was intended to engender public respect. Although planned as early as 1907, its construction was delayed until 1931, by which time the trend was toward more modest courthouse design. The Courthouse in Red Deer is thus a rare artifact of the City Beautiful movement in Alberta, and, retaining full integrity of its design and historic fabric, it is a provincial landmark.

The Old Red Deer Courthouse also has historical significance for its association with Premier Brownlee and the policy of the United Farmers of Alberta government of decentralizing public buildings throughout the province. Enlarged by a 1958 rear addition, the Courthouse housed both the Provincial Court and the Court of Queen's Bench, and served as the centre of justice for Red Deer and area until 1983.

The Old Red Deer Courthouse is also historically significant as the location of the 1959 murder trial of Robert Raymond Cooke, the last person sentenced to be hanged in Alberta.
From the Alberta Register of Historic Places
Photo goes Here
Official Heritage Registry: [Web Link]

4836 Ross Street
Red Deer, AB
T4N 1X4

Heritage Registry Page Number: Not listed

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