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Key Number: HS 30507
Site Name: Community Rest Room
Other Names:
Site Type: 0400 - Mercantile/Commercial: General and Mixed Use Commercial

Location

ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
42 25 4


Address: 5014 - 51 Avenue
Number: 14
Street: 50
Avenue: 51
Other:
Town: Ponoka
Near Town:

Media

Type Number Date View
Source

Architectural

Style:
Plan Shape: Rectangular
Storeys: Storeys: 2
Foundation:
Superstructure: Concrete Block
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure: Flat
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes:
Exterior: The Community Rest Room, which was built in 1929, is a simple, two-storey rectangular building. The building, which faces south, is located mid-block and shares a common wall with the buildings to the east and west. Constructed of cast concrete blocks, the Rest Room features three doorways and display windows at ground level, four rectangular windows in the second storey, a single belt course and a simple parapet along the main roofline.
Interior: N/A
Environment: The Community Rest Room occupies one lot and is situated on the north side of 51st Avenue in Ponoka's main commercial district.
Condition: Good (2003)
Alterations: Although much of the exterior is essentially intact, the door openings and upper floor window openings have been fitted with vinyl or aluminum units. In addition, the interior was extensively renovated in the early 1980's to accommodate a retail operation on the first floor and a hair stylist on the second floor. New insulation and drywall was installed on the interior wall surfaces following upgrades to the electrical system. The acoustic tile ceilings, suspended on a two-foot by four-foot aluminum T-bar grid, and floor finishes also appear to be contemporary with this renovation. On the rear elevation (north), an elaborately designed wood ramp, stair and platform system has been added, likely replacing an earlier system that provided access to the rear entries of the upper and lower floors. 1997 - roof was resurfaced. 1999 - replaced windows, doors etc.

Historical

Construction: Construction Date:
Constructed
1929/01/01
Usage: Usage Date:
N/A

Owner: Owner Date:
N/A

Architect: N/A
Builder: N/A
Craftsman: N/A
History: Formerly: 5102 - 48 Avenue.

RESOURCE Community Rest Room
ADDRESS Ponoka
BUILT 1929
DESIGNATION STATUS Registered Historic Resource

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Shortly after the completion of the Calgary & Edmonton Railway in 1891, lands off the rail line were quickly opened for farming. To serve the new farm districts, a number of communities were developed along the line, usually at points where the C&E established stations and the government followed with post offices. One of these was at a site just north of the Battle River, where, in June 1891, the C&E erected its '14th siding'. Shortly thereafter, an official with the railway named the locality Ponoka. This was a corruption of the Blackfoot word for elk.

The development of Ponoka and the settlement of the district were comparatively slow. It was not until 1897 that a post office was located there. With the turn of the century however, activity picked up. With a population exceeding 200, Ponoka was incorporated as a village in 1899, and a town with over 600 in 1904. During the years that followed, Ponoka's role as a service centre for its rich mixed farming hinterland was entrenched. Only the psychiatric hospital, built there in 1911, would challenge the town's central purpose of serving its agricultural hinterland. Grain elevators, livery stables, blacksmith shops, garages, churches, mercantile stores, restaurants, poolrooms, and the hotel all played their part.

One of the amenities thought worthy of an agricultural centre was a community rest room, intended mainly for women and children. Farm women frequently had time on their hands when in town while the men were about their business selling grain or other produce, getting machinery fixed, or themselves socializing in the pool room or tavern. As a result, a Ponoka Rest Room Association was formed following World War I to lobby and collect funds for such a facility. The closing of the hotel tavern in 1918 had also shut down the ladies washroom there.

Principal organizer of the Association was Evelyn Graham. With encouragement from MLA C.O. Cunningham, the town and county undertook to erect a shelter with toilet and washing facilities on what is now 51st Avenue. By the late 1920s however, this was recognized as inadequate. Further lobbying ensued, and, in 1929, James Caine and R.A. Sorenson were contracted to construct a two storey cast stone building on the same site for $4,832. It was opened on November 30th with a formal tea.

The ground floor of the new Community Rest Room consisted of a waiting room, several toilets, and a bath. The upper storey held several residential suites (intended mainly for women) and office space. Over the years, the Rest Room was maintained by several women's organizations. It also held a library until the late 1950's, when the donated books were themselves redonated to the new Jubilee Library. The Community Rest Room continued to serve as a retreat for women until the 1990s.


HISTORICAL SIGNIFICANCE

The historical significance of the Ponoka Community Rest Room lies in representation of the roll of women in small communities and rural districts of Alberta during the early and middle years of the 20th century, and of the growing strength of women's organizations at the time. It is also representative of the role of the Town of Ponoka as a service centre for a large agricultural hinterland, the community being regularly frequented by farmwomen as well as men.

(Historical Interest Summary)

Des File 2006
November 30th, 2000

The structure's original use was not for commercial activities as the facade, with its large storefront windows, might suggest, but as a resting place for women and children traveling to town from the surrounding rural area. For whatever reason, the building was built in a simple style that reflected the familiar early 20th century commercial architecture.

Newspaper accounts record that the Community Rest Room was officially opened on November 30th, 1929 and stands today as a well-preserved example of early cast concrete commercial construction.

The two-storey masonry building is built on a rectangular plan with a flat roof and the unique feature of relatively little depth for its two-lot frontage. The design of the Rest Room can be said to be simple and conservative. The exterior at street level reflects the commercial nature of the district with three doorways and three large storefront windows of a typical design for the early part of the 20th century. The upper level of the front facade, with its residential scale windows, is separated from the lower level by a wide beltcourse of an exposed aggregate concrete material. This material also serves as a finish for the parapet cap as well as for upper storey window lintels.

The masonry materials give the Rest Room's functional design a sense of permanence in contrast with other wood commercial buildings found on this street. The unique stone-faced cast concrete blocks also provide an aesthetic interest to the relatively simple building design.

The architectural significance of the Community Rest Room building lies primarily in the use of a relatively uncommon rock faced, cast concrete block used for all facades of this two-storey building. Cast concrete is also used for the narrow parapet cap as well as for sills and lintels of windows and doors.

This material speaks to the desire of the Community Rest Room Association to produce a lasting, attractive, but affordable building to provide a place where farm women and their children could recuperate from the journey to town and wait for their husbands to conduct business in the community.
The superstructure rests on a board-formed, cast-in-place concrete foundation. The floor structure is constructed of 2 x 10 joists at 16 inch centres. The first floor is sheathed with shiplap boards, laid diagonally, obviously stripped from the cured foundation wall as they are stained with concrete. The building has a flat roof covered with a built-up bituminous material. The parapet, flashed with sheet metal, tops all facades with the exception of the back wall, where rain flows into a gutter and leader system.

The second storey of the front facade contains four small openings that once provided light and ventilation for apartments while the fenestration of the lower storey reflects the commercial location of the Community Rest Room building. Three large "storefront" windows exist with one large lower pane and a horizontal band of six vertically oriented transom lights.

The main floor of the two-storey Community Rest Room consisted of a rest room and a single bathroom with a set of stairs leading to a larger washroom in the basement. Today, the three toilet stalls and sinks in the washroom at the west end of the basement are the most tangible relic of the old Rest Room. Apparently, the second floor was originally comprised of residential suites which were rented out to provide operating revenue for the association that ran the Rest Room. Throughout the building's history, the suites were also used as office space for numerous professionals.

Alteration
Although much of the exterior is essentially intact, the door openings and upper floor window openings have been fitted with vinyl or aluminum units. In addition, the interior was extensively renovated in the early 1980's to accommodate a retail operation on the first floor and a hair stylist on the second floor. New insulation and drywall was installed on the interior wall surfaces following upgrades to the electrical system. The acoustic tile ceilings, suspended on a two-foot by four-foot aluminium T-bar grid, and floor finishes also appear to be contemporary with this renovation. On the rear elevation (north), an elaborately designed wood ramp, stair and platform system has been added, likely replacing an earlier system that provided access to the rear entries of the upper and lower floors.

In 1999, the building became a project of the Ponoka Main Street Project because of its strong restoration potential and its importance to Ponoka's downtown streetscape. The goals of the restoration work were to retain (and, if possible, restore) as much of the historic building character as possible and to carry out repairs on the deteriorating cast stone façade. Restoration work for this building included:

removing loose and spalling concrete from the cast stone surfaces;
patching the cast stone with Portland Cement mortar, tooled with trowels and brushes to imitate the original cast stone contours;
repairing the concrete window sills and installing a saw-cut drip edge;
applying two coats of a "cement wash" composed of stucco mixture, Imasco stucco pigments and Weld-Bond for improved adhesion;
replacing main floor windows with custom-built thermalpane units of similar design;
repainting windows and door frames;
installing the original door as a non-functioning unit in the original opening; and,
installing business signage with supporting hardware designed to control scale and positioning of future signs.


The upper windows of the front and back facades were replaced in an earlier renovation with units containing a wood fixed sash in the upper two-thirds of the opening and aluminium horizontal sliding sash in the lower portion. These obviously replaced more traditional, wood, single-hung sash. The upper windows were not addressed during the 1999 Main Street restoration.

Finally, it can be said that the building is generally in very good condition. The board-formed, cast-in-place foundation appears to be sound with no evidence of structural movement. During the site visit, which was preceded by a rain storm, water was observed in the basement around minor localized foundation cracks on the upper east end of the south wall.

According to the building owner, the roof was resurfaced in 1997. The aluminium eavestrough at the north edge of the roof appears to be new and is functioning well in directing rain from the roof and away from the building through two leaders at each corner. …

The front facade of the Community Rest Room was restored through the Ponoka Main Street Project in 1999 and is a significant component of the collection of commercial buildings renovated and restored in this historic downtown.

Internal

Status: Status Date:
Active
2003/05/01
Designation Status: Designation Date:
Provincial Historic Resource
2011/10/03
Register:
Record Information: Record Information Date:
WANG 1979/06/30

Links

Internet:
Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0831
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