Description of Historic Place
The Court House and Community Building, erected in The Pas in 1916-17, is a large two-storey brick structure on a corner site in the town's business district. The provincial designation applies to the building and its grounds.
The Court House and Community Building at The Pas, northern Manitoba's oldest standing brick building, is an impressive example of a Neo-Classical-style public facility designed to accommodate several provincial, municipal and community functions in a developing frontier town. Solid, substantial and stately, albeit modestly adorned, the structure, built soon after Manitoba's boundary was extended to the sixtieth parallel of latitude, expresses both its era's optimism over prospects for the 'New North' and the provincial government's commitment to the town's future as a regional centre. The building was planned by G.N. Taylor, the first architect in The Pas, to hold a jail, courtroom, justice, land registry and town offices, and, unlike other Manitoba court houses, a public assembly hall that for many years was a focal point for local events and groups. Altered over time as needs changed, the functional facility, now housing a museum, retains considerable exterior integrity along with significant interior features, and is a notable local landmark.
Source: Manitoba Heritage Council Minutes, May 25, 1985
Key elements that define the heritage character of the Court House and Community Building site include:
- the visible corner location at Fischer Avenue and 3rd Street in The Pas business district
- the building's placement, facing northeast and removed from the street within landscaped grounds
Key exterior elements that define the structure's dignified Neo-Classical style include:
- the large rectangular flat-roofed form, two storeys tall on a high basement and fronted by a substantial entrance pavilion
- the solid brick construction and enduring materials, including the red finish brick, smooth- and rough-cut limestone trim, etc.
- the formal near-symmetry throughout, with the bays of each facade defined by shallow brick pilasters, vertically aligned windows, corbelled brickwork, stone banding elements, including windowsills, etc.
- the classically styled roofline, including the deep wood cornice painted white and high brick parapet
- the plentiful fenestration, including tall single rectangular windows, multi-paned with segmental-arched heads; also, smaller vertical and horizontal openings, a large paired window above the main entrance, etc.
- the grand entrance pavilion, with brick side walls capped by smooth bevelled limestone slabs, an arched opening topped by a bracketed entablature, recessed doors of dark wood, shallow brick pilasters, vertical insets and corbelling, rusticated stone banding elements, and concrete panels etched with 'COMMUNITY BUILDING', 'COURT HOUSE' and '1916'
Key elements that define the building's interior character and administrative functions include:
- the efficient centre-hall layout, with high-ceilinged offices and other functional spaces organized off the hall on each of the three usable levels
- the front vestibule with double glazed doors opening to a half-flight of main-floor stairs
- the main wood staircase with balustrades and square newel posts, etc.
- details such as doorways with wide dark-stained wood surrounds and transoms, wood-panelled doors with pebbled glazing and bronze-coloured hardware, wide main-floor windowsills, etc.
- elements that recall the building's public functions, including the basement Woman's Jail with a heavy iron door and cell walls comprised of grid of flat metal slats, the Law Library Room with heavy plank-like shelving, the wood-panelled witness box, stencilled lettering on the 'COURT ROOM' and office doors, etc.