Description of Historic Place
The Revelstoke Courthouse is a four-storey Neoclassical courthouse located at 1123 Second Street West in Revelstoke. The site comprises the city block bounded by Second Street, Kootenay Street, Third Street, and Wales Street.
The value of the Revelstoke Courthouse lies in its connection with the early development of the Kootenay region in British Columbia. BC's economy was resuscitated by a sharp rise in the international price of silver in 1895, rekindling interest in the rich mines of the Kootenays. The resulting boom spawned frantic development, leading to the establishment of urban centres connected by the newly-constructed railway. Towns were established through the Speedy Incorporation of Towns Act (1897) as the provincial government scrambled to establish an administrative network of courthouses, schools and other public buildings. The original Revelstoke Courthouse was one of the first to be built in 1897. As was the case in other towns, this was replaced by a larger structure in 1911-13, reflecting the expanding needs of the community. Its construction was a source of pride throughout Revelstoke and was lauded in the Revelstoke Mail Herald as 'the finest building of its kind in the interior of British Columbia.' The laying of the cornerstone was a gala event, preceded by a community parade several blocks long and involving local dignitaries.
The Revelstoke Courthouse is valued for its association with architect Thomas Hooper. Born in Devon, England in 1857, his family moved to Canada in 1871, settling in London, Ontario, where Hooper apprenticed as a carpenter and joiner after completing his education. The family followed the booming Canadian economy to Manitoba and finally to Vancouver in 1886, arriving months after the fire that destroyed much of the city. Establishing a private practice in 1887, he was responsible for major commercial, religious, industrial and domestic commissions throughout the province. In the 1890s, Hooper established a Victoria office, although he maintained offices in both centres. At the time of the construction of the Revelstoke Courthouse in 1911-1913, Hooper was well established as an architect and had changed his focus to large-scale commercial and institutional projects, calling himself a 'specialist in steel-framed structures.' Other major commissions during this era included E.A. Morris Tobacconist (Victoria, 1909), Chilliwack City Hall (1910-12), Vernon Courthouse (1911-14), ice arenas in Victoria and Vancouver (1911-12), and several buildings for the Royal Bank of Canada.
The Revelstoke Courthouse is also valued for its association with builders Anselmo Pradolini and William Foote. Anselmo Pradolini was one of seven friends from the Italian Alps who arrived in Revelstoke in 1903 to work for the Canadian Pacific Railway as masons. Anselmo set up his own contracting business shortly thereafter and began constructing houses, including a concrete block home on Second Street (now called the Pradolini Apartments). Pradolini formed a partnership with William Foote and together they constructed, in addition to the Courthouse, Selkirk School (1911, demolished in 1983), Guy's Barber Shop (1912), Macdonald's Drug Store (1912), the Howson block (1911), and Manning's Ice Cream Parlour and Candy Store (1913). Anselmo served as alderman for several years and was mayor in 1934-36. He was active in the Italian community in Revelstoke, assisting several of his countrymen to immigrate to Canada and ensuring that they were financially stable once they arrived.
The Revelstoke Courthouse is an outstanding example of the Neoclassical Revival style. Buildings of this type are an attempt to emulate Greek and Roman architecture. They generally have a monumental appearance, usually in 'temple' form and feature a pedimented portico, stone finish, columns, pilasters, keystones, and dentils along the elaborate cornice. Finishes both inside and out are highly detailed and of the highest quality. Interiors usually feature tiles or mosaics often set with coats of arms or heraldic symbols, as well as leaded glass. White marble is a commonly used building material.
Source: City of Revelstoke Planning Department
The character-defining elements of the Revelstoke Courthouse include:
- institutional form, large scale and symetrical massing
- characteristics of the Neoclassical style, including marble pilasters, Doric marble columns, granite plinth, stone portico, and keystones
- local materials, including Kootenay marble, Clayburn brick, and granite
- leaded-glass windows in staircase and courtroom
- sixteen-sided dome with eight-sided lantern above, with louvred vents on each facet
- pattern of fenestration
- entrance portico with granite steps
- gold-leaf lettering in transom over entrance doors
- oak entrance doors
- circular window in pediment
- war memorials to either side of lower entrance door
- sheet metal and marble decoration, including marble swags of fruits between first and second levels of windows on the Third Street elevation and sheet metal pilaster on upper level
- grills over lower windows
- chimney on east corner
- name incised on frieze
- prominent location in the community - visible from a distance