Political society

Society moves closer to heritage establishment, significance of Rossland Armory

With $1,500 in hand from Heritage BC, the Rossland Arts Center Society (Society) is moving forward with planning for a new arts center in the Rossland Drill Hall.

“We have all kinds of work to do before this becomes a reality, but funding from the Heritage Legacy Fund will bring us a little closer,” company director Sarah Taekema-Slot told the Trail Times.

The next step is to hire an architectural historian to conduct a heritage assessment of the drill hall, thereby establishing its historical significance and informing a conservation plan.

Taekema-Slot says a local architectural historian is willing and qualified to carry out the work, which will include four phases:

1) research the origins of the site as a type of building;

2) research and document the socio-political forces that led to the commissioning and construction of the drill hall;

3) conduct a site visit to inventory and document the existing structure; and

4) prepare an illustrated narrative that establishes the heritage significance of the Rossland Drill Hall.

Background

The Rossland Arts Center Society is in the final stages of taking over management of Rossland’s historic Drill Hall as part of a long-term retainer from the Crown. The Society intends to operate this historic building as an arts center and community center and fill a significant gap in programmable space. As licensees, the Society believes it is important to understand and respect this historic building, so an assessment of the drill hall by an architectural historian is essential to determine its heritage significance. Unfortunately, the statement of current value does not include any reference document, so the information cannot be verified by this means. The heritage assessment will provide verifiable and up-to-date information, which will contribute to the community’s understanding of the drill hall. The aim is to raise awareness of a more nuanced version of the city’s history as a site of significance for the intersection of British law and American union militarism, ensuring that the Society can take responsible and informed decisions regarding renovations and the use of space.

Dance at the Rossland Armoury, 1909. Photo: RosslandMuseum.ca

Rossland Drill Hall

The Rossland Armory, also known as the Armory or Annex, was built in 1904 by David Ewart, Dominion Chief Architect for the Department of Defence.

Built largely in response to the Boer War (South African War 1899-1902), the Drill Hall became Rossland’s largest indoor leisure building during the first half of the 20th century due to a large training area on the upper floor and a well fortified space below for the storage of weapons.

The building is a strong reminder of the region’s connection to the British Empire and the Canadian military, housing different groups including the Rocky Mountain Rangers. The building also served other purposes, such as housing the Rossland Legion from 1919 to 1945, and functioned twice as a school after fires destroyed Central School in 1912 and MacLean School in nineteen eighty one.

Architecturally, the drill hall is notable, with a locally quarried granite base and eucalyptus wood flooring – a rarity for buildings in British Columbia at the time. The structure still has the original copper roof tiles, each tile is embossed with a maple leaf. The building continues to play a prominent role due to its history of use, although it is currently not open to the public.

– with files from RosslandMuseum.ca


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