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Prince Albert Town Hall/Opera House

1010 Central Avenue, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, S6V, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1991/04/03

Looking east at front façade, 2004.; Government of Saskatchewan, Calvin Fehr, 2004.
Front Elevation
Looking south at bell tower and porte-cochere, 2004.; Government of Saskatchewan, Calvin Fehr, 2004.
North Elevation
Looking north with landscaped civic space in foreground, 2004.; Government of Saskatchewan, Calvin Fehr, 2004.
South Elevation

Other Name(s)

Prince Albert Town Hall/Opera House
Prince Albert City Hall

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1892/01/01 to 1893/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/03/31

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Prince Albert Town Hall/Opera House is a Provincial Heritage Property located prominently on one civic lot on the corner of Central Avenue and 11th Street in downtown Prince Albert. The property features a grand, two-storey municipal building with a bell-tower, which was completed in 1893.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the Prince Albert Town Hall/Opera House resides in its status as the oldest building of its type in Saskatchewan and one of the only remaining nineteenth-century town halls on the prairies. Constructed between 1892-93 amidst an economic downturn in Prince Albert, the Town Hall/Opera House inspired confidence and faith in a prosperous future. Completed ten years prior to the incorporation of Prince Albert as a city, and with a population of only 1000, the building's impressive dimensions and prominent bell-tower symbolize the optimism of a burgeoning prairie town.

Heritage value also lies in its association with the community activities and civic services of Prince Albert over the course of a century. While a portion of the main floor contained the offices of the mayor, city clerk, and city commissioner, the basement held jail cells and a magistrate's court. Civic services operated from this building until 1969. Similarly, as the cultural centre of Prince Albert, the combined opera house-theatre was the only suitable place in town for staging cultural events. It also provided space for public lectures, political debates, and information meetings. It served as an opera house-theatre until approximately 1920 when a second floor was added to the theatre area to accommodate the expanding civic administration. While the opulent theatre space was disrupted by this addition, the skylights were retained and continue to allow natural lighting to the room. The landscaped area around the building also provided the community with a public space for events, such as civic celebrations and public speeches, including those by the three Prime Ministers who represented Prince Albert in federal Parliament: Sir Wilfred Laurier, Mackenzie King, and John G. Diefenbaker.

Further heritage value resides in the building's architecture, which combines a late-Victorian eclecticism with an Italianate style. Designed by Ontario architect F. J. Rostrick to be the centrepiece of the downtown core, the Town Hall/Opera House emulated the large and elaborate designs of city halls in central Canada. Faced with locally-made brick, the architectural styles are reflected in the tall narrow windows with curved tops, the square bell-tower, and decorative brackets. One of the most defining elements of the building is the porte-cochère – a covered portico where ladies, gentlemen, and visiting dignitaries were delivered to attend the gala evenings of the opera.

Sources:

Province of Saskatchewan, Notice of Intention to Designate as Provincial Heritage Property under The Heritage Property Act, May 9, 1990.

Province of Saskatchewan, Order to Designate as Provincial Heritage Property under The Heritage Property Act, April 3, 1991.

Character-Defining Elements

The heritage value of the Prince Albert Town Hall/Opera House resides in the following character-defining elements:
-those features that reflect the age of the building, such as the fieldstone foundation and locally-made brick;
-those features that speak to its original use as a theatre-opera house and cultural centre, including the original skylight, the double-height windows in the original opera house, the remaining open space, and the civic square to the south of the building;
-those features that illustrate its mixture of Italianate and late-Victorian styles of architecture, such as the tall, narrow, arched windows, the picturesque and asymmetrical roofscape that includes the bell-tower and five chimneys, the circular motifs in the bell-tower and porte-cochère, and the decorative brackets;
-those remaining original features that speak to the building's Victorian eclecticism, including the interior oak woodwork, the wrought-iron tracery in the balcony, and the decorative finial on the bell-tower.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Saskatchewan

Recognition Authority

Government of Saskatchewan

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act, s. 39(1)

Recognition Type

Provincial Heritage Property

Recognition Date

1991/04/03

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Government and Institutions

Function - Category and Type

Current

Leisure
Recreation Centre

Historic

Government
Town or City Hall
Leisure
Auditorium, Cinema or Nightclub

Architect / Designer

F. J. Rostrick and Son

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Department of Culture, Youth and Recreation Heritage Resources Branch 1919 Saskatchewan Drive Regina, SK File: PHP 355

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

PHP 355

Status

Published

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Front Elevation

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The Prince Albert Arts Centre is a Municipal Heritage Property located prominently on one civic lot on the corner of Central Avenue and 11th Street in downtown Prince Albert. The…

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