Red Deer’s Parsons House, a municipal historic resource. (Advocate file photo).

Province purchases Red Deer’s historic Parsons House to create new Justice Centre

Group2 working on design options — could one save the home?

The province has purchased a historic home in downtown Red Deer in order to develop a new Justice Centre.

But the question remains — will Parsons house be saved? Or will it be levelled to make way for Red Deer’s new courthouse development?

A provincial spokesman stated in an email this week that several design options are being considered, but no final design has yet been chosen yet.

Since the jury’s still out on the fate of Parsons house, this indicates at least one design being drafted by Red Deer’s Group2 Architecture and Interior Design incorporates the home of Red Deer’s first doctor into the courthouse complex.

Red Deer historian and city councillor Michael Dawe had previously suggested the tan brick home from 1903, with upstairs balcony, would make a great judges’ quarters.

According to Jennifer Burgess, press secretary for Alberta Infrastructure, Red Deer MLAs Barb Miller and Kim Schreiner “have been strong advocates for their communities and give regular feedback” to the minister. But ”at this time no decision has been made on the future of Parsons House.”

Burgess added that sale of the site officially went through on June 29. Group2 “continues to work on design options for the new Justice Centre.”

Burgess noted demolition of the former RCMP facility and site preparation for the project will begin this winter. Construction of the new Justice Centre is anticipated to begin in the fall of 2019.

It will provide 12 courtrooms upon completion, with the capacity to build up to 16.

Parsons House, most recently owned by Red Deer lawyers, has municipal heritage status – but this doesn’t mean it’s safe from the wrecking ball. The province would first have to seek city council’s approval.

Built as Red Deer’s first medical clinic, operated by Dr. Richard Parsons, the house has been called one of the best surviving examples of Edwardian neo-classical designs in the city. It’s also one the few local structures still standing that is clad in brick from the defunct Red Deer brickyards.

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