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Alberton Court House National Historic Site of Canada

457 Church Street, Alberton, Prince Edward Island, C0B, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1980/06/16

Corner view of the Alberton Court House, 1987.; Parks Canada Agency/Agence Parcs Canada, 1987.
General view of the place
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Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1877/01/01 to 1878/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/05/04

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Alberton Court House is a simple wooden hall under a steeply pitched roof. With its entry on a gable end, the building evokes the image of a pioneer church rather than the courthouse that it was. Located in Alberton, Prince Edward Island, it is notable for its Neo-classical composition and graceful proportions. The designation refers to the building on its legal property. It now serves as the Alberton Museum.

Heritage Value

Alberton Court House was designated a National Historic Site in 1980 because it is both representative and the most ornate of a series of six circuit court houses erected according to a standard plan, soon after the passage of Prince Edward Island's County Courts Act in 1873.

All these early circuit court houses were small single storey pitched roof buildings constructed to a standard plan with a porch/vestibule and an open interior court room. The Alberton Court House was built in 1877-1878 by James Wiggins and Sons of Alberton to the standard plan designed by the Prince Edward Island Superintendent of Public Works in 1874-1875. The basement of the Alberton Court House contained half a dozen cells as well as accommodation for a keeper. The building ceased to be used as a court house in the late 1970s and began to be used as the local museum in 1980.

The heritage value of Alberton Court House National Historic Site lies in those aspects of its design that conform to the standard plan - its single storey form, open interior layout and porch/vestibule - as well as those that mark this building as distinctive - its basement gaol, its Neo-classical composition and graceful proportions.

Source: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada Minute, March 1980.

Character-Defining Elements

Key features contributing to the heritage value of this site include:
- its rectangular massing under a steeply pitched roof;
- its auditory hall design with an open interior volume and small rectangular entrance porch;
- its Neo-classical detailing, including its Roman arched window and door openings, corner pilasters, molded cornice, and oculus;
- its evenly spaced, tall round headed, multi-pane sash windows on the main floor and the small multi-pane barred windows with single, hinged exterior shutters of the basement;
- its wooden construction materials and their careful, skilled craftsmanship;
- surviving evidence of its original function as a courthouse and gaol, notably its open ground-floor volume and surviving layout and materials of the basement jail;
- surviving original fittings and furnishings, their materials, craftsmanship and finishes.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1878/01/01 to 1978/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design
Governing Canada
Security and Law

Function - Category and Type




Courthouse and/or Registry Office

Architect / Designer

Prince Edward Island Superintendent of Public Works, 1873


James Wiggins and Sons

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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