Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff                                Parsons House.

Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff Parsons House.

Future of Red Deer’s historic Parsons House remains uncertain

No decision yet on whether land will be needed for new courthouse

The fate of Red Deer’s historic Parsons House is still uncertain.

Most of the land immediately west of the brick-clad house in downtown Red Deer has already been purchased for an expansive new $97-million courthouse development.

The former Red Deer RCMP building is to be torn down to make way for the new justice centre after the province recently purchased the building and land from the City of Red Deer.

But Alberta Infrastructure had not yet indicated whether the corner property next door, occupied by the 115-year-old Parsons House at 49th Street and 48th Avenue, will also be needed for the project.

“The land acquisition process is ongoing, and we are unable to comment on adjacent properties at this time,” stated Alex Middleton, spokesperson for Alberta’s infrastructure minister.

He added his department is at the preliminary design and develop phase for the new courthouse project. Infrastructure is seeking a “prime consultant” by Feb. 8, who can design the facility “to meet project requirements, assist with construction procurement, and monitor compliance.”

Predesign work for the new Red Deer Justice Centre is already underway, with site activity expected to begin in late 2018, Middleton added.

The Parsons House, owned by Red Deer lawyers, has municipal heritage status – but this doesn’t mean it’s safe from the wrecking ball.

Built in 1903 as city’s first medical clinic operated by Dr. Richard Parsons, the house has been called one of the best local examples of Edwardian neo-classical design left in the city.

It is also one the few surviving local structures clad in brick from the defunct Red Deer brickyards.

But if purchased by the province, Parsons House’s future would have to be determined by city council, which would decide whether it’s left alone, demolished, moved, or incorporated into the building project.

City councillor and local historian Michael Dawe has stated he hopes the house will not meet the same fate as the Snell House, which was demolished after the current courthouse was built.

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