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Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Isolation Hospital is a two-storey building situated on a single lot in a residential neighbourhood in Lethbridge. It features a red brick exterior, clipped gable roof with a prominent central cross gable, flaring eaves and exposed brackets, dormers on the front and rear elevations, and two large, round-arched banks of windows on the north-east corner of the building.
The heritage value of the Isolation Hospital in Lethbridge lies in its architectural value as a rare example of an institutional building manifesting the strong influence of the Arts and Crafts movement. It also possesses significance for its design, which includes functional elements associated with its use as an isolation hospital.
During the early decades of the twentieth century, the mining community at Lethbridge had proven especially susceptible to communicable diseases such as whooping cough, smallpox, and measles. In 1907, a public health by-law was passed that called for the establishment of an isolation hospital. The institution was constructed the following year and relocated in 1911 to a wood-frame building near Mountain View cemetery. By the 1920s, the isolation hospital was proving inadequate. It was plagued by poor ventilation, dismal heating, and dubious hygienic arrangements. Elizabeth Dodds, the extraordinarily committed and competent nurse tasked with managing the hospital, convinced town council to relocate the institution to a two-storey brick building originally constructed to serve as a children's shelter.
The new hospital was well-appointed with luxuries like a gas stove, furnace, washing machine, and electric iron. These creature comforts were married to a general architectural philosophy that tended to emphasize the residential over the institutional, the elegant over the strictly utilitarian. Designed by the architectural firm of Whiddington and Fry, the large building manifests the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement in the informality of the design, the wide eaves and exposed roof rafters, and the interior emphasis upon high quality materials finely crafted. It appears that this location and the style and residential environment were deliberately chosen to convey a sense of domestic warmth to the young children who initially inhabited the building. It remained in service throughout the 1950s and was pressed into service during the terrible polio epidemic in the early part of that decade. In the late 1950s, the isolation hospital was closed and, appropriately, was adapted for reuse as an apartment building.
Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1976)
The character-defining elements of the Isolation Hospital include such features as:
- location in a residential neighbourhood in Lethbridge;
- exterior elements of the building that manifest the influence of the Arts and Crafts style, including the informality of the exterior, six-over-one double-hung windows, cedar-shingled roof and dormers, the brickwork arrangement featuring a stretcher bond pattern with a soldier course every six courses, exposed rafter ends and wide eaves, clipped gable roof, and the two large, round-arched banks of windows in the north-east corner of the building;
- interior elements of the building that manifest the influence of the Arts and Crafts style, including high quality materials finely crafted into mouldings, frames, baseboards, doors, as well as original flooring;
- elements expressive of the building's historic institutional role, including the scale of the building, the double stair that meets on the main entry level and served as the division between the boys and girls wings of the children's shelter, the two back entrances for girls and boys sheltered by a gable.
Province of Alberta
Historical Resources Act
Provincial Historic Resource
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
- Building Social and Community Life
- Education and Social Well-Being
Function - Category and Type
- Single Dwelling
- Health and Research
- Hospital or Other Health Care Institution
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8
Cross-Reference to Collection