Women's Institute Hall
Manual Training School
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The historic place is the one-storey, wood-frame Women's Institute Hall, built in 1924 as a small school facility, and located at 770 Lawrence Avenue in Kelowna's North Central neighbourhood.
The heritage value of the Women's Institute Hall is seen in its association with a series of public and private institutional uses that have occurred here since the early 1920s. It also has value as an example of a typical small community hall in its design and detailing.
This building has value for its origins as a school facility, built as a project by a teacher and his students. It was constructed on the east end of the grounds of the old public school (now the armory) on Glenn Avenue (now Lawrence Avenue). W.C. Mitchell, the manual training teacher at Kelowna High School, undertook the construction with his students around 1924. It was built because facilities for teaching practical work in the basement of the then high school, Glenn Avenue School, were poor. Manual Training and Domestic Economics were taught here until 1929, when these classes moved to the new Junior High School.
The building is simple in design and execution, square and covered with a pyramidal hipped roof. It is illuminated by plain double-hung windows. Some extensions disrupt the basic symmetry. It is representative of small public buildings (originally a school facility and then a community hall) found throughout the province.
The building was bought in 1929 by the Kelowna Women's Institute and became the Women's Institute Hall. The historic place has value for its close association with this important civic organization. The Kelowna Women's Institute had been organized in 1915. Active in community services, it supplied services to war veterans after the First World War, and in 1922 started its "Well Baby" clinics, which continued until 1943. The Women's Institute collected donations for the Vancouver Children's Hospital and the Victoria Solarium. It bought Kelowna's first ambulance in 1929 and operated it free of charge for Kelowna and the surrounding community until 1943. The Women's Institute also participated in organizing the first library in Kelowna.
The Women's Institute Hall was an important public venue for Kelowna, being rented out frequently for meetings, concerts, cultural, and social events - everything from wedding receptions to political meetings.
The Hall is also remembered by the hundreds of local residents who had dance lessons here in the Mary Pratten School of Dance, a significant cultural organization that operated in the Hall from 1937 to 1963. Mary Pratten (1877-1967) was born in England and trained in dance in Devonshire, London, and Paris. In 1912 she and her brother came to Toronto. She taught there, and later in Vancouver and Kamloops. In 1937, on request, she came to Kelowna to teach ballet, Scottish, and national dancing. She gave group classes in this building, as well as private lessons in her small home at 798 Glenn (now Lawrence) Avenue. The students' annual revue and performances in the Okanagan Valley Music Festival were high points of the year, and Miss Pratten was also involved in local theatrical presentations.
Source: City of Kelowna Planning Department
The character-defining elements of the Women's Institute include its:
- location on Lawrence Avenue in Kelowna's North Central neighbourhood
- simple form, scale, and massing, seen in its one-storey height and rectilinear plan
- medium-pitched hipped roof
- two small, symmetrical gabled dormers projecting through the roof
- small, shed roof projecting over entrance door with two symmetrical, painted-wood columns
- corbelled brick chimney
- ground-floor symmetrical fenestration with one-over-one, wood-sash windows and plain, medium-width wood trim
- minimal landscaping, with lawn to street and wide textured concrete walkway to front door
Local Governments (BC)
Local Government Act, s.954
Community Heritage Register
Theme - Category and Type
- Building Social and Community Life
- Community Organizations
Function - Category and Type
- Social, Benevolent or Fraternal Club
- Special or Training School
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Kelowna Planning Department
Cross-Reference to Collection