Walterdale Theatre Associates was born in the summer of 1958 under the name of Edmonton Theatre Associates. For the first three years, the Edmonton Theatre Associates did not have a home of their own and performed at various venues, such as Victoria High School and the Jubilee Auditorium.
In 1961 the Edmonton Theatre Associates began renting the former John Walter School House, from the City of Edmonton. The schoolhouse was located on Walterdale Flats, where the Kinsmen Field House is located today.
The building was renovated and converted into a 70-seat venue, which was dubbed the Walterdale Playhouse.
This location was home for more than forty plays over the next 5 years.
In 1966, the City reclaimed the building, to make way for construction of the Kinsmen Field House and the Edmonton Theatre Associates were forced to move.
This location became the Edmonton Theatre Associates’ new home.
In 1969, the name of the Edmonton Theatre Associates officially changed to the Walterdale Theatre Associates.
With the City planning to give the Legion Hall land to a private developer for a shopping mall (Kingway Garden Mall), Walterdale Theatre Associates were able to negotiate with the City for new space in the Strathcona Fire Hall No. 1 (later Edmonton Fire Hall No. 6).
Originally known as Strathcona Fire Hall Number 1, this structure is the last remaining example of a pre-First World War fire hall in Edmonton. Designed by Arthur G. Wilson and David E. Herrald, the hall was built by contractor James M. Eaton at a cost of $15,000. The hall was described at the time of construction as “unusually commodious”.
Constructed of brick with stone quoins, cornices and a concrete floor the building also had a parapet which was demolished at a later date. Dominating the front of the building are three main doors decorated by radiating stone voussoirs. The bell tower measures 11 sq. ft. (1.02 sq. m.) and rises to a height of 77 ft. (23.4 m.), which enabled the fire hoses to be properly racked. In the original design the second storey held the fire chief’s office and bedroom along with five bedrooms and a band room which took up almost half the space on that floor.
Following the amalgamation with Edmonton in 1912, Fire Hall Number 1 became Fire Hall Number 6 and remained in service until 1954. The building was then leased to Strathcona Furniture for 20 years until it became home to Walterdale Theatre in 1974. Designated as a Provincial Registered Historic Resource in 1976, the building is also on Edmonton’s “A” list of Registered Historic Resources.
-Edmonton Historical Board