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MELSNESS MERCANTILE BUILDING

Valhalla Centre, Alberta, T0H, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1997/12/18

The Melsness Mercantile Building Provincial Historic Resource, Valhalla Centre (July 2000); Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, 2000
South elevation
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Other Name(s)

MELSNESS MERCANTILE BUILDING
Post Office / North and Brown Store
Melsness Mercantile Store

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1923/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/03/30

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Melsness Mercantile Building is a one-storey, painted wood frame commercial structure designed with a false front boomtown facade. Originally built in 1923, it occupies one lot on the main street of Valhalla Centre (now Highway 59) in the Grande Prairie region.

Heritage Value

The Melsness Mercantile Building is significant for its role in the Lutheran Norwegian community around Valhalla, as the only general store and post office in the hamlet of Valhalla Centre for more than half a century. The building is also directly associated with one of the area's first homesteaders and community leaders, Ole Melsness. It is a good example of rural commercial architecture from pre-World War One Alberta.

The building housed commercial space in the front and residential space for the Melsness family in the back. As the general store and post office, it served as a commercial and social centre for the entire district. The store operated until 1943, when it was sold to the newly-opened Valhalla Cooperative, but the building remained the post office until 1970.

Ole Melsness was among the first group of settlers who filed for land in the Valhalla District in 1912-13. He helped organize the school district, the Lutheran congregation, and the local branch of the United Farmers Association. Perhaps most importantly, he was instrumental in the founding of the Valhalla Creamery, which became the major industry of the district outside of farming.

The store is the only significant building remaining in the hamlet from the early 1920s. Its design - including the false front, boomtown facade and inset storefront - exemplifies the practical, economical style that characterized commercial buildings in rural settlements.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1900)

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Melsness Mercantile Building include:
- form, scale and massing, including addition at the rear dating to the 1930s;
- wood frame construction with clapboard horizontal siding;
- plain front facade with central recessed entry;
- modified gable roof with narrow eaves and exposed rafters, and restored wood shingles, soffits, and fascias;
- fenestration pattern including single-pane, double-hung, equally divided windows and single door front entry in a five panel pattern with a transom light;
- interior finishing of shiplap walls and ceilings, and tongue-and-groove fir flooring.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Alberta

Recognition Authority

Province of Alberta

Recognition Statute

Historical Resources Act

Recognition Type

Provincial Historic Resource

Recognition Date

1997/12/18

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Peopling the Land
Settlement
Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type

Current

Historic

Commerce / Commercial Services
Shop or Wholesale Establishment
Government
Post Office

Architect / Designer

n/a

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 1900)

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

4665-0578

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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