Description of Historic Place
Ravenwood House, also known as Building 5, sits on an extensive lawn, surrounded by trees, at the Experimental Farm in Charlottetown. It is a striking, two-storey, hipped roof structure clad in clapboard. The classically inspired composition features two symmetrical, double-storey bay windows, a classical portico entrance with columns and a centrally placed roof lantern. Classical detailing is also found in the full-height pilasters at the corners and in the wood window treatment. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Ravenwood House is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
Ravenwood House is of historical value for its association with nationally significant government figures and with the development of experimental farms in Canada. It is associated with William Johnston, the Attorney General of Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) from 1813 to his death in 1828, who built the house as his country estate. The house is also associated with J.C. Pope, who resided at the house at the time of Confederation. He served as Premier of the province, was one of the first Members of Parliament from the Island, and was federal Fisheries Minister from 1878 to 1882. The house is also a very good example of the experimental farm developed by the federal government at the turn of the century to improve Canadian agriculture through research. Ravenwood was the central building around which the farm was planned, and has been home to a succession of superintendents, the first being Dr. J. A. Clark, a well-known and respected P.E.I. agriculturalist.
Ravenwood House is valued for its very good aesthetic and functional design. A successful elaboration of an original Georgian era building with elements of the Classical Revival style, it was originally built with a five bay façade, steep hipped roof and verandah wrapping around three sides. Renovated in 1909 to create a classical revival composition with symmetrical double-storey bay windows and a classical portico, it is a very good example of both early 19th- and early 20th-century classical designs. Demonstrating a very good functional design, its center-hall plan, with its arrangement of parlors, offices, a rear kitchen wing and four bedrooms above, reflects the exterior symmetry. Very good craftsmanship is evidenced in its interior, 19th-century, detailing that includes marble mantelpieces and plaster ceiling rosettes.
Ravenwood House is compatible with the picturesque character of its park-like setting at the experimental farm. The extensive front lawn has been embellished with trees planted by various governors-general of Canada and by members of the British Royal Family. Located near the entrance to the frequently visited farm, the house is a regional landmark.
Sources: Gordon Fulton, Ravenwood House, Building No. 5, Experimental Farm, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office, Building Report, 91-071; Ravenwood House (Building No. 5), Experimental Farm, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Heritage Character Statement, 91-071.
The character-defining elements of the Ravenwood House should be respected.
Its very good aesthetic and functional design and very good craftsmanship and materials, for example:
- the massing, which consists of a two-storey, hipped roof structure;
- the symmetry of the three-bay, front façade with a one-storey entrance portico;
- the wide bay windows, the full-height pilasters at the corners and the centrally placed roof lantern, all of which create a vertical emphasis on the façade;
- the classical detailing in the wood window surrounds, pilasters, and in the porticos with its columns and porch balustrades;
- the wood frame construction and the clapboard cladding with wood trim;
- the sandstone foundation and hewn and pit-sawn timbers;
- the interior center-hall plan with front parlors, a rear kitchen wing, and office on the main floor, with four bedrooms above;
- the interior 19th-century detailing, including the marble mantelpieces, plaster ceiling rosette, echinus mouldings, and main staircase.
The manner in which the Ravenwood House reinforces the picturesque character of its park-like setting at the experimental farm and is a familiar building, as evidenced by:
- its overall scale, design and materials that complement its extensive front lawn and park like surroundings at the experimental farm;
- its visibility and familiarity due to its prominent location near the entrance to the frequently visited farm.