Central Elementary School heading for historic designation

Municipal landmark

Central Elementary School is on its way to becoming a municipal historic resource under the Alberta Historical Resources Act.

The plan is for the Central Elementary School building to be turned into a cultural hub after first being used as downtown headquarters for the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

City council recently passed a resolution to authorize a notice of intent to move forward on designating the property as a municipal historic resource. It will return to council in about 60 days to be considered for municipal heritage designation.

The school is considered a municipal landmark that meets the heritage designation criteria in terms of design, style, construction, and significance of past uses.

Built in 1939, the two-and-a-half storey brick building started off as an intermediate school, the name stamped in cement on the building, and is considered significant for its association with Red Deer’s development. Red Deer School Division was established through the amalgamation of 60 rural school districts surrounding Red Deer in 1939.

The building is also significant for its art deco influenced design characterized by its symmetry, flat roofs, and limited ornamentation.

On Wednesday, Red Deer Public Schools board of trustees passed the final resolution to approve the sale of the property to the City of Red Deer for $1.

Bruce Buruma, director of community relations with Red Deer Public Schools, said the school district is fully supportive of the city’s plans for the building.

“This facility does belong to the community. As we no longer have any need for it as a facility it’s wonderful for it to be handed over to the City of Red Deer. It’s going to meet the needs not only of the Winter Games, but in the longer term it will meet other community needs,” Buruma said.

Canada Games Celebration Plaza is to be located in the outdoor space to the west of the building that will provide long-term celebration space in the heart of the city.

He said the school district was previously approached to designate the school as a historical resource.

“We had not moved forward with that partly because of some restrictions it might place on the school. The city is a better position to have it as a historical resource than the district.”

Central Elementary was most recently used by Annie L. Gaetz School students who moved in for a year while renovations were done on their school. Before that it was used by Gateway Christian School.

The building has been leased out as office space since 2013.

Currently it is occupied by Red Deer 2019 Canada Winter Games Host Society, Central Alberta Regional Consortium, Red Deer Minor Hockey office and a pre-school.

City administration is also in the process of applying to Alberta Culture and Tourism for a provincial historical resource designation.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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