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Neepawa Court House / Beautiful Plains County Court Building National Historic Site of Canada

282 Hamilton Street, Neepawa, Manitoba, R0J, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1980/06/16

General view of the Neepawa Court House / Beautiful Plains County Court Building, showing its local buff brick exterior walls with limestone trim, 2001.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 2001.
General view
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Other Name(s)

Neepawa Court House / Beautiful Plains County Court Building
Palais de justice de Neepawa / palais de justice du comté de Beautiful Plains
Beautiful Plains County Court Building
Palais de justice du comté de Beautiful Plains
Rural Municipality of Rosedale Offices
Bureaux de la municipalité rurale de Rosedale
Neepawa Court House / Beautiful Plains County Court Building National Historic Site of Canada

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1884/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/05/13

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

A stone’s throw from the commercial heart of the town of Neepawa, Neepawa Court House / Beautiful Plains County Court Building National Historic Site of Canada is an imposing two-storey buff brick building, located on an open site. Constructed in 1884, when the surrounding district was in its earliest stage of settlement, the structure served as county and municipal offices, a circuit judges’ courthouse, police station and theatre, thereby securing Neepawa’s role as the most prominent town in the district. The building now houses offices of the Municipality of Rosedale. The designation refers to the building on its lot.

Heritage Value

The Neepawa Court House / Beautiful Plains County Court Building was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1980 because:
- used as the county court, jail, municipal offices and a theatre, this substantial building is representative of a significant functional type.

Having secured the railway line to the village in 1882, Neepawa was thereafter named the seat of the County of Beautiful Plains, which encompassed four municipalities. The county system, discontinued as too unwieldy after 1890, continued to lend its name to the new provincial building, although the town actually straddled the newly created Rural Municipalities of Langford and Rosedale. In 1884, the government of Manitoba agreed to share the cost of construction of the new civic structure if space could be provided for the circuit judges’ court, thus making the town both the district judicial and civic centre. Town leaders in Neepawa wasted no time in securing an architect and commencing construction. Completed in 1884, the new brick courthouse and civic office remained the town’s only brick structure for the next five years, serving as county court, town hall, jail, and theatre

The design was awarded to one of the young province’s foremost architects, British-trained C. Osborn Wickenden, who contributed several prominent public buildings to Manitoba and later to British Columbia. A Portage la Prairie construction firm had the expertise to provide the skillful handling of the decorative brickwork of the courthouse. The high-quality bricks were also manufactured in Portage, which speaks to the sophistication of artisan skills developing on the Prairies. In 1982, strong local support for the preservation of the Neepawa Court House / Beautiful Plains County Court and municipal offices as part of the town’s centennial anniversary celebration demonstrated how significant a landmark it remains within the district.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, March 1980; Plaque text, 1985.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that express the heritage value of the Neepawa Court House / Beautiful Plains County Court Building include:
- its visual prominence in the downtown area;
- its setting within a landscaped property containing two war memorials;
- its rectangular massing with a prominent frontispiece with tower, and rear pavilion;
- its local buff brick exterior walls with limestone trim on a raised foundation of granite and gneiss boulders;
- the quality of craftsmanship of its solid brick construction, with decorative belt courses and corbelling, and recessed panels setting off the upper windows;
- its elements of the Queen Anne Revival style, blending classical elements such as the pedimented tower, the symmetrical façade and the heavy stone detailing of the front entrance and stairway;
- its original public space on the second floor, featuring a partially-coffered ceiling with carved wooden hammer-posts and tie-beams;
- all the original window openings, in particular the large round-headed ones on the east elevation;
- its continuous use as a multi-purpose facility serving the public of Neepawa and district.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

1980/06/16

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Government and Institutions
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type

Current

Government
Town or City Hall

Historic

Government
Office or office building

Architect / Designer

C. Osborn Wickenden

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

124

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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