City aims to protect Red Deer’s Parsons House

City council agrees to memorandum with province to preserve downtown home

A downtown Red Deer historic landmark has its city council champions.

Council unanimously agreed to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the province to preserve the Parsons House, kitty corner to the provincial courthouse.

Coun. and former city archivist Michael Dawe passionately urged council to do what it can to ensure the 115-year-old home does not follow the fate of other heritage properties.

“I feel very strongly about this,” said Dawe.

He pointed out a similar historical home, the Snell House, sat on the corner outside the current courthouse until 1985 when it was torn down despite local efforts to preserve the81-year-old house.

“We’ve already gone down that road once. We lost the Snell House and can’t bring it back.”

Coun. Dianne Wyntjes also urged that the home, which was built in 1903 and was Red Deer’s first medical clinic, be protected.

“When you think about history in the city you never know what you have until it’s gone,” said Wyntjes.

The city would “lament its loss” if the house was torn down.

Parsons House has been called one of the best surviving examples of Edwardian neo-classical designs in the city. It’s also one of the few local structures clad in brick from the defunct Red Deer brickyards.

A new justice centre is to be built on land behind the home.

Last month, the city sent the province a letter asking that the house be incorporated into the design of the justice building.

The memorandum of understanding would address some of the province’s concerns about security and the aesthetics of the house.

Also in the proposed memorandum:

•The city would agree to oversee the property management, leasing and operations of the house, and to set in motion a rezoning of the property to a direct control district.

•The province and city would agree to maintain the historic integrity of the house, which was in 1993 made a registered historic resource under the Alberta Historical Resources Act.

• The province would fund all major maintenance and the city would deal with all minor repairs and upkeep.

The proposal states: “The city will occupy the house for public purposes or lease to a tenant that is acceptable to the province.”

It also asks that the province take reasonable measures to address the structural integrity of the house during the justice centre construction.

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