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Strathcona Public Building (South Side Post Office)

Edmonton

Other Names:
South Edmonton Post Office
Southside Post Office
Strathcona Post Office
Strathcona Public Building (Southside P.O.)

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Strathcona Public Building (South Edmonton Post Office) is an early twentieth century, classically inspired, two-storey, steel frame and brick building located on three lots on a prominent corner in Edmonton's historic Old Strathcona District. Faced with red brick and limestone, the building's main facades are divided into five bays each, the front corner bays developing into an elegant stone clad clock tower. A later annex to the west is not included in the designation.

Heritage Value
The heritage value of the Strathcona Public Building (South Edmonton Post Office) lies in its architectural significance as an example of federal public buildings in western Canadian communities. In addition, the building is significant for its contribution to the prestige of Edmonton as an emerging urban centre.

Constructed between 1911 and 1913, the South Edmonton Post Office is notable for exemplifying the shift toward the Edwardian Classical Free style design and exterior decoration in federal public buildings. Built according to the plans laid out by David Ewart, the Chief Architect of the Canadian Department of Public Works, the building marked a departure from the typical Romanesque Revival style, often used in post offices. Following these newer aesthetic principles, the original tower was "found to be short in height," and was replaced by one ten feet taller in 1914-15. The building's rational, symmetrical composition, evident in such features as the five-bay division of each facade, is a hallmark of the classicism of the Edwardian era. Several embellishments characteristic of this style, such as the ornamented limestone entablature, pilasters, contrasting brickwork, and shaped voussoirs identify the Strathcona Public Building (South Edmonton Post Office) as a very good example of small-scale public architecture in western Canada.

Serving also as the Strathcona Public Building, the South Edmonton Post Office was constructed during the golden age of pre-Word War One prosperity, and exemplified Edmonton's rapidly increasing importance. The imposing structure was one of the most significant public structures built in the city in the years immediately following Strathcona's merger with the City of Edmonton in 1912. Lending added dignity to the Whyte Avenue commercial area with its impressive design features, the building quickly became an indispensable part of the daily lives of the burgeoning population residing and doing business on Edmonton's south side. As such, the Strathcona Public Building (South Edmonton Post Office) has become a well-known landmark of Old Strathcona.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 272)


Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the Strathcona Public Building (South Edmonton Post Office) include such features as:
- square form and massing;
- red stretcher bond brick and Tyndall limestone facing;
- classical revival refinements such as the limestone ornamentation on the entablature of the end and corner bays of the main facades;
- original frieze inscription signs, 'Post Office,' 'Customs,' and 'A.D. 1911;'
- arched windows capped with radiating voussoirs;
- wood double-hung windows;
- original four-faced imported English timepiece (made by J. Smith and Sons Midland Clock Works, Derby, England) in the limestone clad tower, with semi-circular reveals around the clock face;
- pyramidal standing seam sheet metal roof with finial;
- interior elements such as cast iron pillars and oak staircases.
- original Ford & Featherstone vault/safe.


Location



Street Address: 10501 - 82 Avenue
Community: Edmonton
Boundaries: Plan I, Block 63, Lots 1 thru 3
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
4
24
52
29
7 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
I
I
I
63
63
63
3
2
1




Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
53.51798 -113.50064 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: 1985/02/12

Historical Information

Built: 1911 To 1913
Significant Date(s) N/A
Theme(s) Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life : Architecture and Design
Historic Function(s): Government : Post Office
Current Function(s): Commerce / Commercial Services : Eating or Drinking Establishment
Architect: David Ewart
Builder:
Context: HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE:

Built between 1911 and 1913, this building was the second post office for Strathcona. The first post office, a frame structure a block East of the second site, had become too small for the growing city by 1911. The significance of the Old South Edmonton Post Office lies more in its architecture than its history, and in this respect it is a distinctive builidng in both the city and the province. It is built of brick, with a corner clock tower, extensive stone trim, arched windows with voussoirs, and a pronounced entablature. The four-faced clock, imported from England, is unique in Edmonton. The only other similar building in the province is in Lethbridge.

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0507
Designation File: DES 0272
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 17721
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. 272)
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