Description of Historic Place
Kaslo Municipal Hall is located in the heart of the municipality of Kaslo, British Columbia. A two-storey, wood frame building with a truncated hipped roof that rests on a rubble stone and brick foundation, the building's design adopts a classical vocabulary in its use of columns and pediments that were often associated with public buildings in the late 19th century. A prominent central entrance accessed by a double-curved staircase defines the main elevation. The entrance is framed by a projecting portico, which rises two storeys and is surmounted by a substantial belfry featuring open arcades and a decorative base. These elements accentuate the verticality of the building and convey a sense of dignity and importance that has made it an enduring landmark within the community. Official recognition refers to the building on its footprint.
The Kaslo Municipal Hall was designated a national historic site of Canada in 1984 because:
- this wood-frame structure is the oldest remaining town hall on the British Columbia mainland;
- it typifies a combined-function town hall, similar to many modestly scaled Canadian civic halls erected at the end of the 19th century.
Built at the height of the great mining boom that transformed the Kootenay region of British Columbia, and just five years after the establishment of Kaslo as an important service, transportation and administrative centre, this municipal hall symbolized the aspirations and optimism of its citizens for the future of their community.
The Kaslo Municipal Hall was built to house the municipal council chambers and administrative offices, the provincial court, the fire and police departments, and the jail. Combining numerous functions under one roof, this substantial building became an enduring landmark that conveyed an air of progress and stability for the young municipality.
Designed by the architectural firm of Ewart and Carrie of Nelson, British Columbia, the design demonstrates the architectural and decorative potential of British Columbia wood, evident in the classically inspired detailing around the windows, doors, cornice, entrance portico, and belfry. The interior has undergone relatively few changes since its construction and it provides an excellent example of an important public building constructed of wood.
Source: Historic Sites and Monument Board of Canada, Minutes, November 1984, June 1986
Aspects of this site which contribute to its heritage value include:
- the continuous function of the building as a municipal hall
- the exterior forms, massing and design features of the building, including the prominent rubble stone basement with brick corner quoins, its exterior wood finishes including v-jointed siding and corner boards, belt courses, a decorative frieze, the two-storey front portico and staircases (including columns, railings, and decorative wood detailing), the belfry (including decorative wood detailing, bell, and associated equipment), roof profiles and surfaces, all original entrances and windows, and the associated surround detailing
- the major original interior elements including the historic spatial organization, front entrance hall and staircase including the newel posts and railings, the rear staircase and surviving remnants of the rear hall, the vault, the court room and the subsidiary chambers on the second floor, the original lath and plaster wall surfaces, wainscoting, the original window and door openings and surrounds, and the historical inscriptions on the building's exterior and interior doors
- the footprint of the building and the historical relationship between the building and its site, including setbacks and the spatial relationship to surrounding properties
- the sightlines of the building from Fourth Street and other vantage points, which contribute to its landmark status within the community