234 1 Street Southeast, Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
The Woodland Smythe Residence is an impressive two and one-half storey residence situated on the north side of 1st Street SE between 2nd Avenue SE and 3rd Avenue SE, west of Medicine Hat’s downtown core. The residence is set back from the street and shrouded by mature landscaping. This historic resource is identifiable by its red brick exterior with second storey banding, hipped-roof with closed soffits, dentils, and segmental-arched dormers, a hipped-roof verandah with brick columns and closed balustrade, and substantial corbelled chimneys. A moulded concrete block wall marks the property line at the front of the property, and a one-storey garage sits to the rear of the house.
The Woodland Smythe Residence, built in 1914, is valued for its association with the development of Medicine Hat’s health care services during the pre-First World War period through its ties with its original owner, Dr. George Hart Woodland. Dr. Woodland, a native of Wallace, Nova Scotia, travelled to Medicine Hat with his wife, Josephine Rogers (née Crosby) in 1905. The couple came to Medicine Hat after Dr. Woodland was offered a position in the local medical practice of Dr. Charles Smythe. Woodland had received his medical degree from the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University in 1901, and for a brief period of time operated a medical practice in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Hearing of the economic potential in the west, Dr. Woodland searched for a position in Oregon or Alberta. The Edwardian economic boom and the burgeoning real estate market in Medicine Hat attracted Dr. Woodland to the city and he arrived in November of 1905. The family established their first home on Toronto Street (presently, 3rd Street).
The Woodland family outgrew their Toronto Street residence when Josephine’s sister and mother moved to Medicine Hat, and in 1913, the doctor purchased a vacant river lot on 1st Street SE. Construction of the substantial two and one-half storey brick residence began in the fall of 1914 and was completed before the end of the year. A two-storey addition was added to the rear of the residence shortly after it was first built. The family lived in the house until 1926, when they relocated to Boston before returning to Canada and settling in Vancouver in 1932. George and Josephine remained in Vancouver until their deaths in 1937 and 1951, respectively. Dr. Woodland sold the house and its possessions to Dr. Howard Dixon in 1926 for one dollar, with the lot presumably sold separately for a greater sum. The property remained with the Dixon family until 1955. The property then changed hands three more times before the present owners, the Smythe’s, purchased the residence. The Woodland Smythe Residence is also valued as an excellent example of Edwardian Classical Revival-style architecture. Edwardian Classical Revival-style architecture represents a transition to a more simplified architectural style beginning in the 20th century, possessing classical features, but sparingly used detailing.
This architectural style is associated with Queen Victoria’s son, Edward VII, who reigned from 1901 to 1910; however, the style persisted in Canada through the 1920s. The style is characterised by its simplified massing and balanced design with smooth brick exteriors, straight rooflines, full-width verandas, flat openings with plain lintels and sills, block-like cornice details, and overall un-complicated ornamentation. The Woodland Smythe Residence possesses elements of this style with its square-plan, smooth brick exterior with multiple windows with plain stone lintels and sills, decorative stone lintel band, block dentils, full-width hipped-roof verandah, and barrel vault dormers on each elevation. The residence was designed by the local firm of McCoy & Levine Engineering and was built by J.E. Stacey for the cost of $24,000. The Woodland Smythe Residence is further valued as a component of a collection of intact historic residences in one of Medicine Hat’s oldest neighbourhood. The grouping of early 20th century homes along 1st Street contributes significantly to the historic aesthetic of the neighbourhood and is unique to this area of the city. Information found on Medicine Hat. Cover photo by Wice-A-Woni on Reddit.