Description of Historic Place
Echo Valley Conference Centre (Fort San) is a Municipal Heritage Property located in the Resort Village of Fort San. The 184-acre property is a former sanitorium situated on the north shore of Echo Lake, comprising numerous Tudor Revival-style and Arts and Crafts-style buildings and ancillary structures. The designation includes the Main Lodge (1912-17) and a portion of its West Wing (1918), Dr. Jenner’s Residence (1916), the Administration Building (1919), Nurse’s Residence (1921-22), and the broad, landscaped front lawn often called “the bowl.”
The Echo Valley Conference Centre, commonly known as Fort San, is of heritage value for its integral role in the treatment of tuberculosis in Saskatchewan. Opened in October 1917, Fort San was the first of three sanitoriums to be built in Saskatchewan, and is the only one to remain. Prior to the 1925 opening of the Saskatoon Sanitorium, Fort San was the primary facility in Saskatchewan for tuberculosis treatment. Established by the Saskatchewan Anti-Tuberculosis League, the sanitorium represented years of hard work by the League to establish a modern, centralized facility for patient treatment. By the late 1920s, Saskatchewan had achieved the most advanced position of any province in Canada in the fight against tuberculosis, in large part due to the Fort San facility. The death rate from the disease at the time was lower than in any other province and little more than half the national average, despite the fact that Saskatchewan was the last province to offer advanced treatment options. After the First World War, Fort San was the major treatment facility for returned soldiers to Saskatchewan who suffered from tuberculosis, with these patients occupying over half the space at the facility. At the peak of its occupancy, Fort San offered treatment for 358 patients at one time.
The heritage value of the Echo Valley Conference Centre also lies in its architectural design, comprising a fine collection of Tudor Revival and Arts and Crafts-style buildings designed by two of Saskatchewan’s most distinguished architects. The Main Lodge, its West Wing, Dr. Jenner’s Residence and the Nurse’s Residence are among the best early examples of Tudor Revival-style architecture in Saskatchewan. Further, these building are a unique collection of such architecture in the province. The Main Lodge and its West Wing are noted for their quality brick and stone materials with half-timbered gables. The Dr. Jenner Residence is similarly detailed with half-timbering, but clad in stucco. The compatible Nurse’s Residence is finished in wood-shingle and stucco cladding with ornamental half-timbering. The stucco-and-shingle-clad, Arts and Crafts-style Administration building with slightly buttressed walls was built by the Red Cross to house visitors. The earliest buildings on the property, including the Main Lodge, were designed by Regina architect J.H. Puntin, who worked closely with the first superintendent, Dr. Hart, and Chicago hospital expert M.J. Sturm, to formulate a plan for the institution. After 1914, Regina architect, W.G. Van Egmond, oversaw the building campaign, and designed the subsequent buildings noted, with the exception of the Dr. Jenner Residence which has been attributed to Provincial Architect Maurice Sharon.
The heritage value of the property also lies in its landscaped grounds and setting. Situated in a wide ravine on the shore of Echo Lake, the site offers great natural beauty, but also served a practical purpose in tuberculosis treatment due to its sunny south exposure and sheltered protection from cold winds. The beautiful and healthful context of the facility was of integral importance to ensure the recovery of patients and was a key element in the facility’s design. Those who planned the campus-style facility believed that physical health was tied to mental well-being, and, therefore, sought to create an uplifting, beautiful environment. The natural-style, landscaped front lawns with their mature plantings, pleasant pathways and bandstand are thereby a primary element in this overall scheme.
The Resort Village of Fort San Bylaw 07-01.
The heritage value of Echo Valley Conference Centre (Fort San) resides in the following character-defining elements:
-those architectural features of the Main Lodge and its West Wing related to the Arts and Craft/Tudor Revival style, such as its two- and-one-half-storey form, its masonry construction with a fieldstone foundation and red-brick exterior, the cross gable and jerkin-head roof with shed-roof dormers, exposed rafters and purlins, the mock half-timbered gables with rough-cast stucco, the fenestration with wooden multi-pane, hung-sash and casement windows, the door hoods with triangular, timber braces, the integral front verandah, its bay windows, and rear tower;
-those architectural features of the Dr. Jenner Residence related to the Art and Crafts/Tudor Revival style, such as rough-cast stucco cladding and mock-half timbering, its asymmetrical, two-storey form, its irregular roofline with numerous dormers, braced purlins and exposed rafters, its fenestration with multi-pane, upper-sashes, and its open front porch with squared-timber supports;
-those architectural features of the Administration Building related to the Arts and Crafts/Tudor Revival style, such as its cladding comprising rough-cast stucco inset with crosses, coursed, wood shingles and mock half-timbering, its two-storey, symmetrical form with one-storey extensions, its hip roof with exposed rafters, its fenestration with wooden, multi-pane, hung- and casement-sash windows, and its enclosed front porch with buttressed walls and central doorway with French doors and hood with timber brace;
-those architectural features of the Nurse’s Residence related to the Arts and Crafts/Tudor Revival style, such as its cladding comprising rough-cast stucco, coursed, wood shingles and mock half-timbering, its symmetrical two- and one-half-storey form, its cross gable roof with shed-roof dormers, exposed rafters and purlins, its fenestration with wooden, multi-pane, hung-sash windows, its open, front verandah with open balcony, string balustrades, and bracketed entry with pediment, and its enclosed rear sun/sleeping verandahs with multi-pane windows;
-those contextual features integral to the site, such as its sheltered location in a wide, valley ravine, its sunny southern exposure, its situation overlooking the north shore of Echo Lake;
-features of its natural-style landscaping, such as the central, broad lawns, mature coniferous and deciduous plantings, numerous pathways, circular driveway, and the 1920s bandstand;
-features of the campus-style design, such as the multiple primary buildings in their original locations surrounding a central landscaped lawn with ancillary and secondary buildings located away from the central lawn.