Kensington Prairie Elementary School
16824 32 Avenue, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
Kensington Prairie Elementary School is a one-storey stucco-clad schoolhouse set on a fieldstone foundation. It is situated on a prominent rise at the corner of 168 Street and 32 Avenue in the agricultural neighbourhood of Kensington Prairie in Surrey. The school was closed in 2006.
Kensington Prairie Elementary School, which opened in 1914 as a two-room schoolhouse, is valued as an early surviving school in Surrey, and as a demonstration of the development of the community and the value that was placed on public education. The first elementary school classes were held at Thomas Fallowfieldâ€™s house, located at Coast Meridian Road (now 168 Street) and Brown Road (now 32 Avenue), and a one-room schoolhouse was built in 1887. By 1914, increasing population had created a need for more educational facilities, as evidenced by the construction of a two-room school. Constructed of local materials, including fieldstone from the surrounding region and lumber from Sullivan Lumber Mill, the building operated without electricity until 1946. Additions over the years included a separate three-room annex containing a staff room, kitchen, medical office and office (1950's), a gym (1967-68) and a library (1972). These later additions do not mar the original plan of the two-room school and the heritage character remains intact. Kensington Prairie Elementary School played an integral role in the lives of local children from 1914 until its closure in 2006.
There is further value in the schoolâ€™s association with the development of the Kensington Prairie neighbourhood as a small farming community. Kensington Prairie originally consisted of an agricultural area on the rich alluvial soil south of the Nicomekl River and north of the southern uplands. The local economy was also strengthened by its logging industry, as Kensington was the centre for logging and the location of a logging ditch which moved logs from the southern uplands northwards to the Nicomekl River.
Kensington Prairie Elementary School is also significant as an example of the standardized architecture that typified educational institutions of its era. The original two-room structure is characterized by its front-gabled form and a front-gabled projection on the west elevation with paired entries. This practical design was easy and inexpensive to execute and provided separate entrances for boys and girls, located on the west side. In accordance with mandated school policy, the windows are banked along the east and west sides to allow abundant natural light, leaving sufficient wall space for large blackboards.
Source: City of Surrey Planning Department
Key elements that define the heritage character of the 1914 Kensington Prairie Elementary School include its:
- location on a prominent rise at the corner of 168 Street and 32 Avenue
- institutional form, scale and massing, as expressed by its one-storey height, full-height basement, front-gabled rectangular plan with a front-gabled projecting entrance on the west elevation with paired entrances
- wood-frame construction with original shingle siding covered by later stucco cladding; original cedar shingle roof covered with later duroid shingles
- masonry elements such as: rubble stone foundation with raised tuck pointing; tapered porch columns; internal brick chimney
- windows, including original square ribbon windows in lower floor; ribbon windows on main floor with horizontal dividers; large triple-pane windows on east elevation; square two-over-two wooden-sash casement windows in multiple assembly; multi-paned wooden-sash casement windows in gable peak
- associated landscape features, such as the terraced sloped site with large grassed schoolyard and perimeter plantings
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.954
Community Heritage Register
Theme - Category and Type
- Building Social and Community Life
- Education and Social Well-Being
Function - Category and Type
- Primary or Secondary School
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Surrey Planning Department
Cross-Reference to Collection