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The Edmonton Historical Board’s 2011 Plaque Awards – Part 2

J. MacGregor Thom Residence.
Courtesy of the City of Edmonton, Sustainable Development.


The Edmonton Historical Board has presented its 2011 Plaque Awards, recognizing nine buildings and one district. Here’s a capsule look at the second group of five recipients honoured at the ceremony at the Prince of Wales Armouries Heritage Centre on November 3, 2011.

J. MacGregor Thom Residence

Built in 1930 just after stock markets collapsed and in the early days of the Great Depression, the quaint house at 11220 62 Street survives as one of the few residences constructed in Edmonton during that troubled time. The Craftsman-style house, now known as the J. MacGregor Thom Residence, also ranks as one of the few homes built at any time in the city using clinker brick.

Thom immigrated to Edmonton with his family from Scotland in 1906. He was one of the first students to graduate from the University of Alberta’s law school, and went on to a long law career in the city, most notably holding the position of Registrar of Land Titles from 1948 to 1961.

The distinctive house survives with most of its original character-defining elements, including a stucco-covered front porch with wooden columns and multiple small paned decorative windows. It is a designated Municipal Historic Resource.

North Edmonton School

When the Village of North Edmonton amalgamated with Edmonton in 1912, the provision of a school was one of the promises made to the new citizens. The school, at 128 Avenue near 69 Street, was designed by Roland Lines, the city architect at the time. He also designed Alex Taylor and Norwood schools before being killed in action fighting in the First World War.

The Edwardian-style school had room for 448 students and opened in 1914. Many of the children were from the families of workers in the area’s meat packing plants, and the community came to be known as Packing Town.

The building’s Edwardian influences can be seen in its bellcast hipped roof, the central parapet, sturdy cornice and lintels over the windows, and decorative quoins on the corners of the building. Extensions to the school were completed in 1917 and 1922, and an addition was built in 1955.
The school was closed in 2006 and students moved to nearby Balwin School. The site is now home to the Excel Society’s Balwin Villa.

John and Annie Radford Residence

Built in 1902 as a farmhouse, the residence at 10008 84 Avenue is a rare example of the homestead style, popular in Canadian Prairie towns at the time. The two-storey house with its gable running from front to back, was built atop a river rock foundation and fronted with an open verandah, taken off in the 1930s.

The original owners, John Thomas Radford and his wife Annie, came to Strathcona
from Winnipeg in the 1890s. They kept a team of horses and a cart in a barn at the back of the house, they farmed cows, and operated a number of business ventures including a moving and storage company.

John Radford was elected to Strathcona City Council in 1910 and served until 1912. His business ventures faltered badly, and the couple passed away during the 1930s as paupers. They are buried in unmarked graves at Mount Pleasant Cemetery. The house has survived 110 years with its exterior largely unaltered and is a Municipal Historic Resource.

Valleyview Manor

The eight-storey Valleyview Manor at 12207 Jasper Avenue was one of the city’s first high-rise apartments when it was completed in 1961. It was designed by Gordon Wynn of the notable architectural firm of Rule Wynn Rule in the Modern style, with large windows and projecting balconies to make the most of the views out over the river valley.

The front entrance is distinguished with ceramic mosaic tile and marble, with domed skylights atop the entrance canopy. Valleyview Manor was marketed as “Edmonton’s new home of gracious living,” and its soundproof walls, wall-to-wall carpet and built-in kitchen appliances helped set it apart.

The large, spacious apartments attracted tenants such as Francis Winspear, a noted local philanthropist who contributed to countless local organizations and the downtown concert hall which bears his name. He and his first wife Bess Winspear were also investors in the building and exerted their influence on the design and interior decoration. Winspear’s second wife, Harriet Snowball Winspear, was the building’s first manager, and she remained a resident until her death in 2008 at the age of 103.

The exceptional detail in construction and the durability of the materials that were used has helped Valleyview Manor last 51 years with few alterations. Restoration of some of the original elements was started in 2010 when the building was declared a Municipal Historic Resource.

William Wood Residence

This two-storey clapboard house at 7504 106 Street was built in 1912 on a lot that was originally part of a 160-acre parcel owned by local merchant John Gainer. Its first owner was William Wood, a local cattle shipper and dealer. The home remained in the Wood family until 1930.

The house is particularly noteworthy for its distinctive architectural features and design. Its gable front continues to the back, intersected by cross gables on both sides.
The front enclosed porch is framed by timber columns and has a side entrance to accommodate its location on a corner lot.

Its window patterns are distinctive, with upper transom windows that are multi-paned, and paired windows in each of the four second floor gables. In recognition of its connection to Strathcona’s early development and as an important remnant of the early 20th century, the residence was designated a Municipal Historic Resource in 2009.


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