Description of Historic Place
The Estevan Court House is a Provincial Heritage Property occupying 13 city lots at 1016-4th Street, one of Estevan's main thoroughfares. The property consists of a two-storey, brick building completed in 1930 surrounded by landscaped grounds.
The heritage value of the Estevan Court House resides in its association with the Estevan Riot. Local coal miners, on strike for better wages, working conditions and union recognition, held a protest parade on September 29, 1931. The RCMP's attempt to stop the parade in front of the court house resulted in chaos when three miners were killed and 13 others were wounded. In the months that followed, the court house hosted the Royal Commission investigating the incident, chaired by Estevan judge E.R. Wylie, and the trials of 20 miners charged with various offences during the strike.
The heritage value of the Estevan Court House also lies in its architecture. The building is one in a series of court houses designed by the office of the provincial architect, a government department responsible for the design and/or supervision of all public buildings from 1905 until the office was discontinued in the early 1930's amidst the Depression. Architect and engineer Maurice Sharon, who held the position between 1916 and 1930, designed of ten Provincial court houses. Several towns and cities were identified as judicial centres with those at Yorkton, Kerrobert, Prince Albert, Weyburn and Estevan receiving buildings of substantial size, while those at Gravelbourg, Shaunavon, Wynyard, Melfort and Assiniboia received more modest buildings that share an identical prototypical design. While Sharon’s first courthouse at Yorkton exhibited an elaborate Beaux-Arts style, similar to other government buildings constructed to that time, he embraced a Colonial Revival style for the remaining nine buildings. These buildings featured pitched roofs, rain gutters integrated with projecting metal cornices, central cupolas with attic ventilation, and brick cladding trimmed with stone. The incorporation of these design elements enabled the government to reduce construction costs and solve technical problems of roof drainage while retaining the appropriate sense of grandeur and presence symbolic of a judicial building.
The Estevan Court House is the last building to be designed by Sharon during his tenure as Provincial Architect, and represents a mature development of his use of the Colonial Revival style for public buildings. Clad entirely in medium-brown Estevan pressed brick, with small amounts of Tyndall Stone trim, the maturity of the style is witnessed in the fluted pilasters and a curved broken pediment which frame the doorway and the double-height window recesses topped by arches on the second storey. Visually-distinct in the community, the Estevan Court House and surrounding landscape along 4th Street constitute a well-known landmark on Estevan's main business thoroughfare.
Province of Saskatchewan, Notice of Intention to Designate as Provincial Heritage Property under the Heritage Property Act, September 24, 1987.
Province of Saskatchewan: Order to Designate as Provincial Heritage Property under the Heritage Property Act, February 15, 1988.
The heritage value of the Estevan Court House resides in the following character-defining elements:
-those architectural elements that reflect the Colonial Revival style of architecture, such as the building's symmetry, sloped roof, metal cornice with integrated rain gutters, symmetrical design, central cupola, dormer windows, entrance trim, and double-height window recesses topped by round arches;
-those architectural elements which speak to Estevan's unique design within the series of Maurice Sharon courthouses, such as the shingled hip roof and the use of Estevan pressed brick on the ends of the building;
-those interior elements which speak to the grandeur of the building, including the terrazzo flooring and wood mouldings, wainscoting, frames and door;
-those elements associated with the Court House's prominence in the community, such as its location on Estevan's main thoroughfare surrounded by landscaped grounds.