New Uses for Old Places – The Wainwright Hotel

New Uses for Old Places is a RETROactive series in which we are looking at examples from around Alberta of historic sites that have found interesting new uses for spaces that were originally designed for other purposes. In this blog post we will be looking at a building that is part way through a three phase rehabilitation project, the Wainwright Hotel.

Wainwright HotelThe Wainwright Hotel was constructed in 1929 as a three-story building utilizing poured-in-place concrete construction techniques. The hotel included nearly 60 rooms, a restaurant and a beer parlour. The development of the Hotel was influenced by its proximity to Buffalo National Park (closed in 1939) and the use of the Wainwright area as a filming location for a number of Hollywood westerns in the early 1920s. The Wainwright Hotel was designated as a Provincial Historic Resource in 2009. (For more information on the hotel’s past, check out this past post  on RETROactive.)

Now owned by the Buffalo Park Foundation, the Wainwright Hotel is about to experience new life. The Foundation has been working closely with Heritage Conservation Adviser, Carlo Laforge to undertake work to establish as mixed-use facility that will contain the gallery, museum and archives of the Buffalo Park Centre as well as office and meeting space on the upper floors.

Preparatory work has been underway to renovate the building, with the removal of asbestos and the selective removal of materials to ready the building for Building Code improvements, including new electrical, mechanical, plumbing and sprinkler systems. The first phase will involve removing a 1960’s addition at the rear of the building and opening the main floor to accommodate the gallery and museum space. To date, the majority of the preparatory work has been undertaken by a team of dedicated community volunteers (with asbestos removal completed by a qualified contractor).

The second phase of the project will rehabilitate the second and third floors of the building to allow for office and meeting space. The upper corridors will be conserved and are a character-defining element of the building, whereas the rooms themselves will be modernized for functionality. The third phase will include a new addition on the ground floor, in the location of the previous addition, and will provide loading docks and archival storage.

Click on the following link to access a copy of a presentation on this project given by Gord Snyder of the Buffalo Park Foundation and Carlo LaForge, Heritage Conservation Adviser with the Historic Resources Management Branch at the 2013 Municipal Heritage Forum: Wainwright Hotel PowerPoint – 2013 Forum.

We look forward to seeing the results of this exciting project in years to come!

Written by: Rebecca Goodenough, Municipal Heritage Services Officer

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