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Cypress Club

Medicine Hat

Other Names:

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place
The Cypress Club is a two-storey building of red brick with sandstone base and trims constructed in the Edwardian neo-classical style. It was built in 1907 and is located on one city lot in downtown Medicine Hat.

Heritage Value
The historical significance of the Cypress Club building in Medicine Hat lies in its role as the main social club for men in the district and thus its representation of a typical element of social life in Alberta's pre-First World War urban communities. It is also an excellent example of the classical revival style that characterized Alberta's public buildings before the First World War.

The Cypress Club, founded in 1903, was one of a number of social clubs created in Alberta's urban communities during the boom years prior to the First World War. Almost all of the region's civic leaders and prominent businessmen were members of the Cypress Club, making it a bastion for the business and social elites.

Architecturally, the Cypress Club building exemplifies prevailing architectural tastes influenced by regional factors in a manner typical of Alberta communities of the period. Locally manufactured brick used in the building's construction was a product of Medicine Hat's nascent ceramics industry, which was itself made possible by abundant local reserves of natural gas. The restrained dignity of the Cypress Club's exterior combined with the richness of its interior fittings was typical of men's clubs. The rustic elements within the building, including the stone fireplace and hunting trophies, combine with the lavish interior to define a sort of "frontier gentility." The structure retains a very high degree of its original historic integrity and contributes to the historical continuity of the streetscape.

Source: Alberta Culture and Community Spirit, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: Des. 2090)


Character-Defining Elements
The character-defining elements of the classical revival style of the Cypress Club building include:
- form, scale and massing;
- interior floor plan;
- corbelled concrete and sandstone foundation with block and pressed brick masonry upper walls and brick quoins;
- massive rectangular sandstone pilasters and architrave framing the main entrance;
- fenestration pattern including: Palladian-style, three-part double-hung windows capped with semi-circular multi-pane transoms on either side of the entry; semi-circular transom with leaded glass and a sandstone arch with a scroll detailed keystone and smooth voussoirs above the entry doors; stair window of stained glass in four panels on the south facade; sandstone voussoirs, mouldings and keystones;
- two sandstone bands (dividing first and second floors and above second floor windows) replaced with corbelled brick on the north and south elevations; sandstone cornice; sandstone parapet coping;
- oak entry doors with a series of small triangular glazing units in oak muntins;
- painted concrete floor in entrance vestibule;
- detailed pairs of engaged fluted columns and free standing round fluted columns with Ionic capitals supporting large beams framing the entry;
- interior entry doors glazed with ribbed glass with sidelights and transoms of leaded stained glass;
- common room (now used as dining room) detailed with a beamed ceiling, oak wall panels, and rusticated sandstone fireplace with oak mantel (all the oak is fumed);
- front common room incorporating former ladies waiting room with vestige of fireplace hearth in floor;
- squat octagonal newel posts, turned balusters, and a broad handrail on the grand oak stair to the second floor;
- doors to the games room detailed with textured glass and decorative muntins and framed by fluted pilasters, Ionic capitals, and entablature;
- poker room including historic octagonal felt surfaced poker table;
- bakelite intercom phone system and call buttons found in most rooms;
- interior woodwork and wood finishing (oak, fir);
- restored hardwood flooring (games room, poker room, office, boardroom, cloak room, basement stairs);
- door from dining room leading to walled garden and patio;
- artifacts and art representing various episodes in the life of the club, including historic piano.


Location



Street Address: 218 - 6 Avenue SE
Community: Medicine Hat
Boundaries: Lot 43, Block 15, Plan 9411655
Contributing Resources: Buildings: 1

ATS Legal Description:
Mer Rge Twp Sec LSD
4
5
12
31
6 (ptn.)

PBL Legal Description (Cadastral Reference):
Plan Block Lot Parcel
9411655
15
43


Latitude/Longitude:
Latitude Longitude CDT Datum Type
50.040193 -110.676305 Secondary Source NAD83

UTM Reference:
Northing Easting Zone CDT Datum Type

Recognition

Recognition Authority: Province of Alberta
Designation Status: Provincial Historic Resource
Date of Designation: 2002/12/06

Historical Information

Built: 1907 to 1907
Significant Date(s) 1903 to 1903
Theme(s) Building Social and Community Life : Community Organizations
Historic Function(s): Community : Social, Benevolent or Fraternal Club
Current Function(s):
Architect: William T. Williams
Builder: A.P. Burns
Oakes and Everand
Context: HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

The Cypress Club was created by an ordinance of the North West Territories Assembly assented to on November 21, 1903. Its charter members included men such as William Cousins, F.O. Sissons, C.R. Mitchell and Thomas Tweed, all of whom were prominent in the business and political affairs of Medicine Hat since its establishment as a railway town site in 1883. William Cousins arrived in Medicine Hat in May of 1883, where he established a general store. He was later to become on of Medicine Hat's major land developers and served as the Mayor of Medicine Hat in 1907-8. The Cypress Club was one of a number of clubs created for social purposes Alberta's major urban communities during the boom years prior to World War One. The oldest such clubs are the Ranchman's Club, established in Calgary in 1899 and the Edmonton Club established in the same year. Other southern Alberta social clubs include the Chinook Club, Lethbridge, established in 1901, the MacLeod Club established in 1903, the Alberta Club of the City of Calgary, established in 1904 and the High River and Pincher Clubs, both which were established in 1906. These social clubs were made of up the business and professional elite of their respective communities. The type of accommodation provided by these various organizations varied with the size of the community. The Cypress, Ranchman's and Edmonton Clubs constructed the most elaborate facilities during this era. This building, therefore, represents an import facet in the social development of Alberta's pre World War One urban communities.


ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE

In 1907, the Cypress Club purchased a lot near the corner of Main Street and Fourth Avenue in Medicine Hat, thus ensuring its immediate proximity to the town's public and financial center while guaranteeing it a quiet setting on Fourth Avenue. William T. Williams, the prominent local architect responsible for the design of the City Hall and Post Office, was commissioned to design suitable quarters for the club. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on July 5, 1907 to initiate construction of the $15,000 building, a sum the club borrowed from Hop Yuill. A sub-contractor, A.P. Burns began the excavations and poured the concrete foundation, then Oakes and Everand commenced construction of the forty by fifty foot two-story, flat roofed structure. Cement blocks, pressed brick and Calgary sandstone were used in the building, the sandstone being used for the structure's decorative features: the massive rectangular stone pilasters and architrave framing the main entrance, the semi-circular moldings of the main floor windows, keystones, secondary cornice delineating the first and second floors, and the parapet coping. The classical inspiration of the building is obvious in its rigorous symmetry and the rounded multi-pane transoms capping the first floor apertures. The south façade is pierced by a large stair window of stained glass. The Cypress Club contains a lounge, billiard room, committee room and writing room, all of which are distinguished by elaborate oak woodwork, the lounge being dominated by a very large cut stone fireplace. Although rater unsuitably furnished today, the club still is expressive of luxury and solidity. The restrained dignity of the exterior combined with the richness of its interior fitments, mark it as typical of the men's clubs of the day.

(Site Information Summary)

Additional Information

Object Number: 4665-0815
Designation File: DES 2090
Related Listing(s):
Heritage Survey File: HS 49876
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 (Files: Des. 1108 and Des. 2090)
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