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Key Number: HS 33267
Site Name: 1907 Red Brick School
Other Names: Didsbury Elementary School
Red Brick School
Site Type: 0305 - Educational: Composite School


ATS Legal Description:
Twp Rge Mer
31 1 5

Address: 2118 - 21 Avenue
Number: 18
Street: 21
Avenue: 21
Town: Didsbury
Near Town:


Type Number Date View
Digital scan of Negative
Digital scan of Negative
Digital scan of Negative
Digital scan of Negative
Digital scan of Negative


Plan Shape:
Storeys: Storeys: 2
Superstructure Cover:
Roof Structure: Medium Hip
Roof Cover:
Exterior Codes: Massing of Units: Single Detached
Wings: None
Number of Bays - Facade: First or Ground Floor, 3 Bays
Wall Design and Detail: Quoins
Roof Trim - Eaves: Plain Fascia
Roof Trim - Eaves: Plain Soffit
Roof Trim - Eaves: Brackets
Roof Trim Material - Eaves: Wood
Roof Trim - Verges: Decorated Fascia
Roof Trim - Verges: Decorated Soffit
Roof Trim - Verges: Returned Eaves
Roof Trim Material - Verges: Wood
Towers, Steeples and Domes: Tower
Dormer Type: None
Chimney Location - Side to Side: Centre
Chimney Location - Front to Rear: Centre
Chimney Stack Material: Brick
Chimney Stack Massing: Single
Roof Trim - Special Features: Cupola or Lantern
Window - Structural Opening Shape: Flat
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Plain Lintel
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Window - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Material: Brick
Window - Sill Type: Plain Lug Sill
Window - Sill Material: Stone
Window - Number of Sashes: Other
Window - Opening Mechanism: Single or Double Hung
Window - Special Types: Half-Round
Main Entrance - Location: Other
Main Entrance - Structural Opening Shape: Semi-Circular
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Head: Plain Lintel
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening - Sides: Quoins
Main Entrance - Trim Outside Structural Opening Material: Stone
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Head: Plain
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Head: Other
Main Entrance - Trim Within Structural Opening - Sides: Plain
Main Entrance - Number of Leaves: 2
Main Entrance - Number of Panels Per Leaf: 4
Main Stairs - Location and Design: None
Main Stairs - Direction: None
Main Porch - Type: None
Exterior: Wing on 2 Street added in 1920, multiple transom panels over main door, tower, quoins, cupola.

The 1907 Red Brick School is a large, two-storey building located on an oversized lot in a residential neighbourhood in Didsbury. The school features a red brick facade accented with rock-faced sandstone elements, a low-pitched hip roof with extended eaves, and a massive corner bell tower.
Interior: N/A
Environment: Residential
Condition: N/A
Alterations: N/A


Construction: Construction Date:
Usage: Usage Date:
Owner: Owner Date:
Architect: MORRISON
Builder: N/A
Craftsman: N/A
History: First permanent school in area.
CIHB information - address is 2112 - 21 Street.
And PBL on CIHB form: Plan - 5116I, Block - 15.

RESOURCE 1907 Red Brick School
ADDRESS 2118 - 21 Avenue, Didsbury
BUILT 1907
DESIGNATION STATUS Registered Historic Resource

Constructed at a cost of $34,000 in 1907, this building also houses the Didsbury District Museum. At the time of its construction, it was the first school in the district to offer Grade12 and had 150 students registered for the 1908 session. The splendid brick building was used as both a Public and a High School until 1920 when a separate building was erected for the High School. The building has survived the disastrous fires of 1913-1914 and the cyclone of June 1934, and appears to be a well-established structure in the area.

In addition to the academic program offered by the school, it also offered other activities such as a cadet Corps which was started in 1898. A pioneer program of industrial and manual training for boys of the higher grades was also introduced in 1901.

With increasing enrolment after 1900, a new ten-room school was constructed on the same site in 1907. After the new school was built the original South Ward School was used as a workshop by the building Department of the Board from 1907 to 1910 and again from 1914 to 1922 and as the office for Dr. Melville Scott the first superintendent of the Public School System from 1910 to 1914. From 1922 until its closure in 1962 it was used for storage, as classroom space and as an auditorium depending on the demand for classroom space.

The construction of the South Ward School in 1894 is an architectural anomaly in Canadian school design. The rectangular, sandstone structure is a unique example of the adaptation of the American Richardson Romanesque school in Alberta, but it is in fact one of the few instances of the use of the style in a smaller structure, particularly as it was primarily reserved for monumental civic and religious structures.

* * *
RESOURCE 1907 Red Brick School
ADDRESS Didsbury
BUILT 1907 to 1908
DESIGNATION STATUS Registered Historic Resource


In the early 1890's, the largest group of Mennonites to settle in Alberta acquired homesteads near the present Town of Didsbury. The completion of the Calgary and Edmonton Railway to this site in 1891 made the district a viable one for grain farming and cattle raising. With the turn of the century, Didsbury began to develop as a community. It was incorporated as a Village in 1905 and as a Town the following year.

A School District for the area was incorporated as early as December 1901. Several years thereafter, a number of small, one-room wood frame schools were built in the vicinity. In 1902, a two-room wood frame school was built on the site of the present structure. Due to the rapid development of the community and the surrounding countryside however, this soon proved to be inadequate. With continued growth considered to be a certainty, the Town mustered its determination and made plans for a massive, ultra-modern two story brick structure which was to last indefinitely. In early 1907, an architect was hired by the local school board to design the facility at an estimated cost of $28,000. Construction proceeded that fall, and in the fall of 1908, the school was officially opened. To finance the undertaking, 30 year debentures were issued at 6% on the first $18,000 and 8% on the remaining $10,000.

As early photographs show, the school was a dominant feature of the Didsbury skyline, by far the most predominant structure outside the business district. In 1913 and 1914, two major fires destroyed the downtown core, leaving the school as the major public facility. In the years that follow, the school would provide an important social as well as educational service to the community. When the international Spanish Flu epidemic broke out in 1918, the school was used as a hospital.

With the end of World War I, the population of Didsbury was again on the upswing, and so a new high school was completed. The early school was then used for elementary and junior high classes. At the time the classes in the school were taught by two full-time and two temporary teachers.

Following World War II, other school facilities were constructed in Didsbury. The original orange brick and sandstone building nonetheless remained part of the Town's school system until 1984. Its subsequent use as a museum tells of its perceived significance by the community, in particular of the period of rapid growth prior to World War I.


Status: Status Date:

Designation Status: Designation Date:
Registered Historic Resource
Provincial Historic Resource
Register: N/A
Record Information: Record Information Date:
K. Williams 1990/05/14


Alberta Register of Historic Places: 4665-0752
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