When constructed in 1919, the Medicine Hat Courthouse was a departure from traditional courthouse design in Alberta. Emanating from France, the Beaux-Arts style is an opulent subset of the Neoclassical and Greek Revival architectural styles and was popular in the United States from roughly 1885-1925. Due to the symmetry, grandiosity and elaborate ornamentation, Beaux-Arts was commonly used for public buildings such as museums, libraries and banks, and was the style chosen in the design of the Medicine Hat Courthouse. The original building layout was L-shaped, also atypical for provincial constructions at the time, although it was modified in 1986 to create a rectangular form.
Located at 460 1st Street SE, the courthouse is among the oldest courthouses in the Province in continuous use as such since construction. It is a reminder of one of the oldest judicial traditions in Alberta, which goes back to 1892, when Medicine Hat was established as the seat of the judicial district of Assiniboia under the old territorial government. Originally, the building held all the Provincial offices for the area, as well as RCMP offices and cells, and the court facilities. The two-story, brick-faced building served as a prototype for subsequent courthouses constructed in Red Deer and Vegreville.
The Medicine Hat Courthouse was the first site in the city to be designated as a Provincial Historic Resource, in 1978. The building is still in use today as the Provincial Court for the city.
Learn more about:
- Medicine Hat Courthouse (Alberta Register of Historic Places)
- Other heritage buildings in Medicine Hat
- Courthouse turns 100 (Medicine Hat News article)
- Beaux Arts architecture (YouTube)
1920 photo: Esplanade Archives