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Alberta Hospital Building No. 1

Alberta Hospital, Ponoka, Alberta, T0C, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1977/03/15

Building No. 1 Alberta Hospital Provincial Historic Resource, Ponoka (date unknown); Unknown
Principal facade
Building No. 1 Alberta Hospital Provincial Historic Resource, Ponoka (June 1999); Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, 1999
Principal facade
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Other Name(s)

Alberta Hospital Building No. 1
Alberta Mental Hospital
Alberta Hospital Building #1
Alberta Hospital
BUILDING NO. 1 ALBERTA HOSPITAL
Alberta Hospital for the Insane
Provincial Mental Health Hospital

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1908/01/01 to 1912/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/09/07

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Alberta Hospital Building No. 1 is a three-storey building situated on approximately 64.75 hectares of land on the southeast outskirts of Ponoka. Built between 1908 and 1912, the hospital building embodies the Classical Revival architectural style and features symmetrical massing, a projecting front entrance verandah with columns supporting a second-storey balcony, decorative sandstone and masonry elements, and a large overhanging cornice supported by heavy brackets. Situated within a park-like setting, the building is currently at the centre of a complex of mental health care facilities.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the Alberta Hospital Building No. 1 lies in its association with the establishment and development of mental health facilities and services in Alberta and in its impressive example of Classical Revival architecture.

In the years prior to the creation of the Province of Alberta, citizens of the North-West Territories afflicted by mental illness were sent to an asylum in Brandon, Manitoba for treatment. In 1908, seeking to address the needs of a burgeoning population and a growing number of psychiatric patients and "mental defectives", the provincial government initiated construction at Ponoka of Alberta's first mental health institution. The rural site of the hospital was deliberate: medical wisdom of the day prescribed fresh air and immersion in the natural world as salves for troubled minds. The Alberta Hospital for the Insane, as it was initially known, was opened in 1911, although construction on the site continued until 1912. Between the early to mid-twentieth century, this facility (later known as the Provincial Mental Health Hospital) was the primary mental health institution in the province. The building is currently the nucleus of a large complex dedicated to mental health care and brain injury treatment.

The Alberta Hospital Building No. 1 is a fine example of Classical Revival architecture. The hospital was designed by A.M. Jeffers, Provincial Architect and designer of such monumental early public buildings as the Alberta Legislature and courthouses in Wetaskiwin, Lethbridge, Edmonton, and Calgary. Like Jeffers' other provincial civic buildings, the Alberta Hospital Building No. 1 embodies the Classical Revival architectural style. Though this style is more subdued in the hospital building than in other Jeffers' buildings, it is nonetheless evident in the hospital's overall symmetry, impressive front entrance, and large overhanging cornice. Jeffers based his design on the State Lunatic Asylum in Utica, New York, one of the oldest and largest mental health facilities in the United States at the time. Elements of the Utica asylum design reflected in the Ponoka hospital building include the latter facility's central block and pavilion design, its Classical Revival architecture, and its extensive porches, most of which have since been removed. Jeffers' plan for the Alberta Hospital Building No. 1 became a model for the creation of later mental health facilities in the province.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1691)

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of Alberta Hospital Building No. 1 include such features as:
- mass, form, scale, and style;
- steel, brick, and stone construction;
- low-pitched hip roof with cupolas and corbelled chimneys;
- large overhanging cornice supported by heavy-brackets;
- red brick exterior and decorative stringcourses;
- exterior sandstone elements, including rock-faced course sandstone basement,
stringcourses between each storey, capitals, cornice above entrance, railings, and balusters;
- prominent front entrance with open verandah and columns supporting second storey balcony;
- fenestration pattern and style, including large wood-frame, multiple sash windows;
- pattern and style of exterior doors and surrounds, including pedimented front door and second storey balcony door, both featuring fanlights and headlights,
- porches;
- floor plan;
- pharmacy featuring an elaborate series of inward-facing wood-panel walls, doors, and interior windows with decorative trims and mouldings;
- original interior elements, including plaster walls and ceilings, riveted steel stairways, millwork, and artifacts;
- continued location on its original site.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Alberta

Recognition Authority

Province of Alberta

Recognition Statute

Historical Resources Act

Recognition Type

Provincial Historic Resource

Recognition Date

1977/03/15

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Education and Social Well-Being
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type

Current

Historic

Health and Research
Hospital or Other Health Care Institution

Architect / Designer

A.M. Jeffers

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. 169)

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

4665-0069

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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