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Sheriff Robertson House

Edmonton

Other Names:
Robertson House
Robertson Residence
Robertson's House
Scott Robertson's House
Sheriff Robertson Residence
Sheriff Robertson's House
Gordon E. Winkler Residence

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
Sheriff Robertson House is an early twentieth century, one and one-half storey building situated on two lots in Edmonton's Cromdale neighbourhood. An excellent representation of the Prairie Style of architectural design, the building features a cross-shaped plan, prominent octagonal skylight, and porte cochere.

Heritage Value
The primary heritage value of the Sheriff Robertson House lies in its fine embodiment of the Prairie Style of architecture. The home is one of the earliest and most northerly models of Frank Lloyd Wright's celebrated design style. The site also possesses value for its association with Walter Scott Robertson, a pioneering businessman, prominent community leader, and lawman in Edmonton.

The Prairie Style of architecture emerged at the turn of the twentieth century as a translation of the aesthetic of the Chicago School of commercial architecture into residential design. The style was intimately associated with Frank Lloyd Wright, the brilliant American architect whose simplicity of vision and emphasis upon natural materials deeply influenced North American design aesthetics. Popularized through house plans in publications like "House Beautiful", the Prairie Style was embodied in homes across the continent in the early decades of the twentieth century. The Sheriff Robertson home is one of the earliest Canadian examples of this style and one of the most northerly. Designed by architect Alfred Marigon Calderon, the home expresses the elegant, simple, and natural aesthetic of the Prairie Style in its gently sloping hipped roof and broad eave overhangs, its geometric massing and fluid interior layout, and its unostentatious decorative elements, including corbelled porch pillars and chimney stacks. At the time of its construction in 1913, the Sheriff Robertson House was one of the most architecturally unique constructions in Edmonton. The interior was no less distinctive, featuring a baronial fireplace, tiffany lamps, and elegant wooden mouldings, trims, and furnishings.

Walter Scott Robertson arrived in Edmonton from eastern Canada in 1881. Enchanted by the North Saskatchewan River and the surrounding country, he established a general store in Edmonton and invested in the local real estate market. His appointment as Deputy Sheriff of the Edmonton District in 1884 and his subsequent elevation to the role of Edmonton's Sheriff after the creation of the Province of Alberta in 1905 suggests Robertson's social stature as a businessman and civic leader. He was also a patron of the arts, owning an opera house and encouraging the development of a local cultural scene. By 1913, his successes had enabled him to commission a uniquely elegant retirement home overlooking the North Saskatchewan River. Robertson had little time to enjoy his new accommodations. He passed away in 1915; his family continued to live in the residence until 1919.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 172)


Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of Sheriff Robertson House include such features as:
- mass, form, and style;
- gently sloped hipped roof with wide eave overhangs and exposed rafter ends;
- red brown stretcher bond brick facade;
- cruciform design;
- corbelled brick pillars and chimneys;
- octagonal skylight cupola featuring leaded glass windows;
- porte cochere supported by corbelled brick columns and featuring broad eaves and exposed rafters;
- sweeping semi-circular driveway through the porte cochere;
- fieldstone fencing, pillars, and column foundations;
- broad front verandah featuring wooden column supports and recessed, concave entrance area;
- fenestration pattern and style;
- arrangement and style of doors, including front door featuring wooden geometric pattern, flanked by sidelights, and crowned with a fanlight;
- sills and lintels;
- original floorplan;
- recessed loveseat alcove;
- original flooring, doors, staircases, wainscoting, mouldings, trims, fixtures, and furnishings;
- original light fixtures, including tiffany lamps and wooden chandelier;
- original light switches, radiators, and curtain rails;
- original mounted animal heads, including buffalo head above baronial fireplace;
- original fireplaces, including stone baronial fireplace incorporating wooden shelving;
- fieldstone pillars and rough-faced sandstone fence in front of the house;
- original landscape elements, including spruce trees;
- unobstructed view of North Saskatchewan River valley.


Location



Street Address: 8120 Jasper Avenue
Community: Edmonton
Boundaries: Lots 4 and 5, Block 1, Plan 1875R
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
4
24
53
10
4 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
1875 R
1875 R
1
1
5
4



Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.557200 -113.466355 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: 1987/05/06

Historical Information

Built: 1913 To 1913
Significant Date(s) 1913 To 1919
Theme(s) Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Architecture and Design
Historic Function(s): Residence : Single Dwelling
Current Function(s): Residence : Single Dwelling
Architect: Alfred M. Calderon
Builder: W.J. Carter
Context: HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE

W. Scott Robertson arrived in Edmonton in 1881. He quickly became involved in the financial life of the community with the purchase of a general store. Land investments proved successful, and eventually Robertson became a wealthy man. In 1884, he was appointed Deputy Sheriff for the Edmonton district.

After the formation of the Province in 1905, Robertson became Edmonton's first Sheriff. He was also employed as manager of the Canada Life Assurance Company. Roberston became active and involved in the social and cultural life of the Edmonton area. Among other activities, he constructed an opera hall in Jasper which featured many prominent performers of the period.

ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE

The Robertson House was built following a style seldom found in Alberta, one pioneered by famous American architect Frank Llyod Wright. Wright designed the first house in what came known as the Prairie Style in 1900. The Robertson House is a superlative example of an internationally significant architectural style, one unusual at such an early date in western Canada.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0459
Designation File: DES 0172
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 23453
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. 172)
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