Description of Historic Place
The Main House of the Simpson Farm is prominently located on a rural landscape in Cavendish. It is a two-and-a-half storey wood frame house clad in clapboard and crowned with a low, hipped roof with centrally placed attic dormers. Designed in the Classical Revival style, the house features a balanced façade with modest, wooden decorative elements, such as the colonnettes of the entrance porch, the framing of the windows, and the stepped clapboarding above the ground-floor bay windows. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Main House is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
The Main House is associated with the early development of the tourist industry in the Cavendish area of Prince Edward Island. Summer visitors began to frequent the area in the early 20th century, attracted, in part, by the popularity of local resident, the novelist Lucy Maud Montgomery. The Main House was the first known residence in the area, deliberately built to accommodate summer visitors as well as the farm family. In addition, the Main House illustrates the continuing viability of the family farm in Prince Edward Island into the 20th century. Known for its association with the prominent Simpson family, well known in Cavendish society, it was the third house built on a property farmed by the Simpsons from 1790 until 1996. It was built by Arthur Simpson (1835-1922), whose ancestor, William, founded Cavendish in 1789, and whose son Jeremiah (1875-1961) was also well known locally.
The Main House represents an attractive, vernacular interpretation of the Classical Revival style popular throughout urban and rural Canada during the early 20th century. The exterior is quite elaborate for a Prince Edward Island farmhouse, due to its seasonal role as a tourist home. The interior design of the house, and the high quality of materials used in its construction, also reflect this special role. In the context of Prince Edward Island’s rural domestic architecture, the Main House exhibits a high level of craftsmanship and materials.
The Main House reinforces the rural character of its farm setting. It retains its dominant relationship with the other extant farm buildings, which form an irregularly shaped farmyard to the rear of the house. The Main House is prominently located on the brow of a hill, overlooking a provincial highway and is a familiar building within the area.
Sources: Dana Johnson, The Simpson Farm, Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report, 98-075; Main House, The Simpson Farm, Cavendish, Prince Edward Island, Heritage Character Statement, 98-075.
The following character-defining elements of the Main House should be respected.
Its good aesthetic design, good functional design and very good craftsmanship and materials, for example:
- the Classical Revival design of the house, as evidenced by its solid, rectangular shape, balanced front façade and classical detailing;
- the symmetry of the front façade that is achieved through the central placement of a two-storey front porch, flanked on either side by bays with generously scaled windows, and centrally-placed attic dormers;
- the classical detailing, including colonettes on the front porch, framing around the windows, and the use of stepped clapboarding above the ground-floor windows;
- the formal centre-hall plan with generously scaled entry and main floor rooms, a pass-through cupboard between the dining room and pantry, and wood flooring and trim on the upper level as well as the main level of the house.
The manner in which the Main House reinforces the rural character of its farm setting and is a familiar building in the area, as evidenced by;
- its overall scale, design and materials, which harmonize with the rural surroundings;
- its familiarity within the area, due to its prominent location on the brow of a hill and overlooking a provincial highway.