Before Edmonton's controversial 1957-built City Hall and the Postmodern complex that today anchors Churchill Square, the now-demolished Civic Block entertained the functions of a municipal government for 44 years. What was only meant to be used as a temporary city hall until a permanent house for elected officials could be erected gradually evolved into a decades-long occupancy. It served as Edmonton's City Hall a longer time than any other building, until its demolition made way for one of the province's most cherished cultural centres.

Civic Block in 1914, image via City of Edmonton Archives EA-10-205

The six-storey structure designed by City Architect A.M. Jeffers possessed a steel frame, reinforced concrete and a brick and terracotta building envelope. The ground floor was characterized by stone band molding while the flat-topped roof was illustrated by a decorative cornice. Beyond a narrow frieze and small keystones above each of the rectangular windows, the building was mainly bereft of grand ornamentation.

Civic Block in 1961, image via City of Edmonton Archives ET-17-2

The building went through a major renovation and expansion to accommodate police headquarters that completely altered its exterior appearance. In 1962, shortly after municipal government departments relocated to the controversial new City Hall, the Edwardian facade of the Civic Block was sheathed in aluminum and glass. 

A reclad Civic Block in 1965, image via City of Edmonton Archives EA-10-1127

Plans to construct the Winspear Centre on the property put an expiration date on the building, and in 1995, it met the wrecking ball. The only remaining piece of the former government complex, a pair of preserved brick window openings, stands in a parkette on 99 Street between Winspear Centre and Chancery Hall.

The Winspear Centre, image by Flickr user IQRemix via Creative Commons

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