CHURCHILL WIRE CENTRE
10003 - 102 Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta, T5J, Canada
CHURCHILL WIRE CENTRE
Churchill Telephone Exchange Building
Edmonton Telephone Building
Edmonton Telephone Exchange Building
Edmonton Telephones Building
Links and documents
1945/01/01 to 1947/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Churchill Wire Centre is a two and one-half storey granite and terrazzo clad structure with basement, raised main floor and a four-storey addition to the west located on a prominent corner lot in Edmonton's civic district.
The Churchill Wire Centre, constructed in 1947, is significant because it is an excellent and rare surviving local example of the Stripped Classicism style of architecture, a subset of the Moderne style. Its human scale, geometric and subtle classical references and early use of prefabricated exterior components helped influence the design of successive commercial and civic structures surrounding Churchill Square. Its modernistic styling is also symbolic of the changing attitudes towards new technologies and non-traditional design that became the hallmark of later twentieth century architecture.
The Churchill Wire Centre is also significant because of its association with Edmonton's former city architect, Maxwell Dewar, who oversaw the design of this building. He designed several civic buildings during Edmonton's period of rapid growth after World War Two, when oil was discovered at Leduc in 1947. Dewar also planned the civic development around adjacent Sir Winston Churchill Square.
The Churchill Wire Centre is also significant because of its original function as an urban industrial building. It had an open plan interior and tall ceilings to accommodate bulky long-distance switching equipment on the upper floor. The sculptural program includes a figure above the main entrance, reminiscent of the Greek god Mercury, holding cables and lightning bolts. Two telephone booths flanking the main interior staircase are also reminders of the building's original function.
The Churchill Wire Centre is also significant because it played a central role in the history of Edmonton's former municipal telephone company, Edmonton Telephones. The company experienced significant growth in the 1940s, necessitating the addition of a larger headquarters to its 1922 Municipal Telephone System building on an adjacent lot to the west. A four-storey addition in 1958, extending the north facade of the earlier portion to the sidewalk, provided yet more room. The Churchill Wire Centre continued in operation until 1984.
Source: City of Edmonton (Bylaw 11153)
The character-defining elements of the Churchill Wire Centre include:
- form, scale and massing;
- high visibility from Churchill Square;
- angled orientation of the main entrance toward Churchill Square;
- entrance foyer leading to the main staircase, with a vaulted ceiling and travertine marble panels;
- glass block windows arranged in paired vertical bays inset slightly from the facade;
- black metal spandrels with chevron motifs;
- polished black granite and cast terrazzo exterior panels;
- pilasters separating the paired windows;
- fluted column-like pilasters aside the main entrance;
- stylized dentils above the second floor windows;
- 'TELEPHONE BUILDING' engraved sign below the east roofline;
- Mercury-like anaglyph above the corner entrance.
Local Governments (AB)
Historical Resources Act
Municipal Historic Resource
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Communications and Transportation
Function - Category and Type
- Multiple Dwelling
- Communications Facility
Architect / Designer
Bennett and White Construction Co.
Location of Supporting Documentation
City of Edmonton, Planning and Development Department, 10250 - 101 Street, Edmonton, AB T5J 3P4 (File: HC-2087 ).
Cross-Reference to Collection