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Alberta Hospital Building No. 1

Ponoka, Near

Other Names:
Alberta Hospital
Alberta Hospital Building #1
Alberta Hospital for the Insane
Alberta Mental Hospital
BUILDING NO. 1 ALBERTA HOSPITAL
Provincial Mental Health Hospital

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Alberta Hospital Building No. 1 is a three-storey building situated on the southeast outskirts of Ponoka. Built between 1908 and 1912, the hospital building embodies the Classical Revival architectural style and features symmetrical massing, a projecting front entrance verandah with columns supporting a second-storey balcony, decorative sandstone and masonry elements, and a large overhanging cornice supported by heavy brackets. Situated within a park-like setting, the building is currently at the centre of a complex of mental health care facilities.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Alberta Hospital Building No. 1 lies in its association with the establishment and development of mental health facilities and services in Alberta and in its impressive example of Classical Revival architecture.

In the years prior to the creation of the Province of Alberta, citizens of the North-West Territories afflicted by mental illness were sent to an asylum in Brandon, Manitoba for treatment. In 1908, seeking to address the needs of a burgeoning population and a growing number of psychiatric patients and "mental defectives", the provincial government initiated construction at Ponoka of Alberta's first mental health institution. The rural site of the hospital was deliberate: medical wisdom of the day prescribed fresh air and immersion in the natural world as salves for troubled minds. The Alberta Hospital for the Insane, as it was initially known, was opened in 1911, although construction on the site continued until 1912. Between the early to mid-twentieth century, this facility (later known as the Provincial Mental Health Hospital) was the primary mental health institution in the province. The building is currently the nucleus of a large complex dedicated to mental health care and brain injury treatment.

The Alberta Hospital Building No. 1 is a fine example of Classical Revival architecture. The hospital was designed by A.M. Jeffers, Provincial Architect and designer of such monumental early public buildings as the Alberta Legislature and courthouses in Wetaskiwin, Lethbridge, Edmonton, and Calgary. Like Jeffers' other provincial civic buildings, the Alberta Hospital Building No. 1 embodies the Classical Revival architectural style. Though this style is more subdued in the hospital building than in other Jeffers' buildings, it is nonetheless evident in the hospital's overall symmetry, impressive front entrance, and large overhanging cornice. Jeffers based his design on the State Lunatic Asylum in Utica, New York, one of the oldest and largest mental health facilities in the United States at the time. Elements of the Utica asylum design reflected in the Ponoka hospital building include the latter facility's central block and pavilion design, its Classical Revival architecture, and its extensive porches, most of which have since been removed. Jeffers' plan for the Alberta Hospital Building No. 1 became a model for the creation of later mental health facilities in the province.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 1691)


Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of Alberta Hospital Building No. 1 include such features as:
- mass, form, scale, and style;
- steel, brick, and stone construction;
- low-pitched hip roof with cupolas and corbelled chimneys;
- large overhanging cornice supported by heavy-brackets;
- red brick exterior and decorative stringcourses;
- exterior sandstone elements, including rock-faced course sandstone basement,
stringcourses between each storey, capitals, cornice above entrance, railings, and balusters;
- prominent front entrance with open verandah and columns supporting second storey balcony;
- fenestration pattern and style, including large wood-frame, multiple sash windows;
- pattern and style of exterior doors and surrounds, including pedimented front door and second storey balcony door, both featuring fanlights and headlights,
- porches;
- floor plan;
- pharmacy featuring an elaborate series of inward-facing wood-panel walls, doors, and interior windows with decorative trims and mouldings;
- original interior elements, including plaster walls and ceilings, riveted steel stairways, millwork, and artifacts;
- continued location on its original site.


Location



Street Address: Alberta Hospital
Community: Ponoka, Near
Boundaries: NW and NE 29-42-25-W4
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
4
4
4
4
4
4
4
4
25
25
25
25
25
25
25
25
42
42
42
42
42
42
42
42
29
29
29
29
29
29
29
29
09
10
11
12
13
14
15
16

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel

Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
52.648601 -113.567459 GPS NAD 83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 1977/03/15

Historical Information

Built: 1908 to 1912
Significant Date(s) N/A
Theme(s) Building Social and Community Life : Education and Social Well-Being
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Architecture and Design
Historic Function(s): Health and Research : Hospital or Other Health Care Institution
Current Function(s): Health and Research : Hospital or Other Health Care Institution
Architect: A.M. Jeffers
Builder:
Context: HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

Building No. 1, opened in 1911, was the first building in Alberta designed for treatment of mental illness and is intimately associated with the history of mental health in the province.


ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE

Architectural style is impressive. Interior layout based on acute hospital building in Utica, New York, proving very functional at that time. Interesting architectural features include original cells.

(Site Information Summary)

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0069
Designation File: DES 0169
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 26391
Website Link:
Data Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch, Old St. Stephen's College, 8820 - 112 Street, Edmonton, AB T6G 2P8 (File: Des. 169)
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