Description of Historic Place
The two-and-one-half storey H.G. Muttart House at 155 Central Street is a fine example of the Colonial Revival style. It is located on the east side of Central Street and set back on a large lot. It has a hipped roof with gabled dormers, all with asphalt shingles. The main entrance is centred with a flat roofed portico. It is clad in white vinyl siding, however, the original wide corner pilasters and some of the trim, also in white, remain visible.
The stately residence at 155 Central Street is an example of the grand homes that were built in Prince Edward Island during the profitable years of the silver fox industry. It makes a major contribution to the historic Central Street residential streetscape.
In February 1914, Summerside merchant Hillard G. Muttart purchased the lot at 155 Central Street. It was a desirable piece of land with a frontage of 102 feet and a depth of 190 feet. At the time of the acquisition, Mr. Muttart was thirty-two years of age with a young family and a promising career. He had come to Summerside from Alberton and began work around 1899 as a parcel boy with the mercantile firm of Sinclair and Stewart Limited. When the company was reorganized in 1908, he became a director and in 1916 after the retirement of Mr. Stewart, rose to the position of president and general manager of the firm.
The residence was under construction in 1914, but was not ready for occupancy until the fall of 1915. The architect, Albert E. Baker, was praised in the press for his attention to detail and the house was judged to be "among the best" in Summerside.
H. G. Muttart was very successful in the fox farming business, having organized the Peerless Fox Company in 1910. He later held shares in other companies and won many prizes for his fox breeding endeavours. He married Helen Steeves MacEwen in 1905 and together they raised four sons and two daughters in their commodious residence. Mr. Muttart was active in his business until a few months before his death at age 62 in 1944.
Soon after, his sons Reginald and Wendell, placed an advertisement for the sale of the house in a local newspaper. The noted features of the property were a finished basement with a modern bathroom, a new oil burner furnace, and a two-car garage. The house went up for auction on November 8, 1944 and was bought in trust by local lawyer, Morley M. Bell. The house was owned by Lucas Allen from 1945 to 1964 and then by Lloyd Boulter of Victoria, PEI until 1973, when the deed was conveyed to Mr. Bell, who had occupied the house ever since 1945.
Morley Bell was a well-known figure in the community. Born in Tryon in 1894, he came to Summerside to study law in 1913 and was admitted to the bar in 1918. He joined the law practice of his uncle John H. Bell and had a long career as a lawyer, conducting a solo practice from 1926 until 1973. Mr. Bell represented 5th Prince in the PEI Legislature from 1955 to 1959. His interest in his home community was also evidenced in his participation in various organizations and his service as a town councillor from 1940 to 1943.
Mrs. Bell died suddenly in New York in April 1965 while visiting friends. Before her marriage in 1922, she had trained as a nurse in the United States and had completed post-graduate work at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. After her death, her husband continued to reside in the house until his passing in 1976. The couple had no children. The executor of their estate was Victor Howatt, the husband of Mr. Bell's only surviving sibling. He sold the property in January 1977 to local physician Clary Foote and his wife. They kept the house for less than two years, selling it in November 1978 to the current owners.
Source: City of Summerside, Heritage Property Profiles
The heritage value of the house is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the four square massing and two-and-one-half storeys
- the large hipped roof which is flat on top
- the gabled dormers of the north, south, and west elevations
- the wide eaves with modillion brackets
- the brick chimneys
- the symmetrical arrangement of the façade
- the two large two storey hipped roof extensions with sunrooms
- the half moon windows over double windows that create a palladian window impression
- the flat-roofed entrance portico
- the oriel window of the north elevation
- the square bay windows
- the doric columns on top of brick pillars at the top of the stairs in the main entrance