Description of Historic Place
Principal Sparling School, built in 1911-13, is a two-storey brick and stone structure in west Winnipeg. The City of Winnipeg designation applies to the building on its footprint and the interior centre hallways.
Principal Sparling School, a large, classically detailed masonry structure, is an impressive representative of the two-storey edifices erected by the Winnipeg School Division between 1907 and 1913. Its design by division architect James B. Mitchell responded to the need for schools that were safe and properly lit and ventilated, but also aesthetically attractive to encourage attendance and support the educational system's role in assimilating immigrant pupils. As typified by Principal Sparling School, Mitchell developed a model incorporating a rectangular form, raised basement, large windows, fully enclosed staircases of fire-resistant materials and wide interior corridors. A finely detailed entrance tower, reminiscent of early Italian architecture, highlights the building's otherwise restrained exterior and gives it a noticeable but not overbearing presence in its residential neighbourhood. In name the school memorializes Rev. Dr. Joseph Walter Sparling, a Methodist minister and educator appointed the first principal of Wesley College, now the University of Winnipeg, in 1888.
Source: City of Winnipeg Council Meeting Minutes, December 17, 1993
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Principal Sparling School site include:
- its prominent corner location in a residential district, with the school at the south end of the property and the playground to the north
Key elements that define the school's exterior heritage character include:
- the basic rectangular two-storey massing with light brown brick facades rising above a raised, rusticated limestone foundation and topped by a low-pitched hip roof with gable dormers
- the numerous, mostly tall rectangular windows, with casings painted to contrast with the brick, rough-cut limestone sills and stone lintels or decorative brick heads
- the symmetrical front with a central entrance tower and projecting end bays, each presenting a solid brick wall with pilaster strips, brick corbelling (including an upper arcade), ornate parapet gable with a bull's eye window, etc.
- the projecting raised ashlar stone portico at the tower's base, fronted by two large side stone staircases and composed of three round-arched openings with square columns, keystones and rounded parapets, behind which lies a double-door entrance with a large arched transom
- the tower's upper stages featuring a round-arched window with radiating brick voussoirs, a pedimented stone tablet reading 'PRINCIPAL SPARLING SCHOOL' and the belfry stage adorned with stone biforate openings, corbelled brackets, curved stone cornices and stone-capped, truncated parapet gables
- the side elevations with slightly projecting central bays featuring semicircular windows, elaborate brick corbelling, parapet gables with pointed and globe-shaped finials, etc.
- the details, including smooth-cut limestone belt courses, diamonds, coping, an elaborate front shield and other trim throughout, corbelled and rusticated brickwork, panels and other brick detailing throughout, etc.
Key elements that define the school's unpretentious interior layout, finishes and details include:
- the formal rectangular plan featuring wide double-loaded central corridors
- the classrooms with intact cloakrooms, some slate boards, plank wood flooring in the basement, etc.
- the staircases with cast-iron balustrades embellished with floral medallions and landings that house small rooms
- the details and finishes, including stained-glass transoms on the east wall, an archway between the main entrance and corridor, dark wood trim, etc.