Description of Historic Place
The small one-and-one-half storey gable roofed house at 175 Duke Street features a symmetrical facade with central gable roofed vestibule. It is situated close to the east side of the street, and it has a centre dormer above the main entrance facing Duke Street.
The modest residence at 175 Duke Street is significant because it was the first building owned and used in Summerside by the Island's original telephone company.
The Telephone Company of Prince Edward Island was incorporated in Charlottetown in 1885 and opened an office in Summerside that same year. In 1890, it moved from the bookstore of Leonard Morris to the Clifton Hotel building where the exchange was managed by Miss Minnie Walsh who owned the Eclectic Bookstore. It then moved to new quarters in 1895 in the Prince County Drugstore building. When the book business was sold that year to Misses Hannah Small and Florrie Beairsto, they took over the telephone exchange that serviced approximately 50 telephones. The office moved again in 1906 to the Schurman block and in 1915 to the civic building on Summer Street.
In 1928, the PEI Telephone Company finally settled in this building which was then located at 302 Water Street. The property was purchased from business entrepreneur and fox rancher, B. I. Rayner, and was eventually moved to its present location at 175 Duke Street. The origin of the wooden structure is unknown. It appears on a 1917 insurance map, indicating that it was on the lot when Mr. Rayner acquired it from J. S. Hinton in 1920. It may have been built at the turn of the 20th century or earlier.
The offices of the PEI Telephone Company were transferred into the building in May 1928. The office manager and chief operator was Miss Clara Mountain and the section foreman was Leigh Stewart. At this time, the number of telephones in Summerside had reached 235. The system gradually expanded and by 1941, the number had increased to 680.
In 1948, a new building for the PEI Telephone Company was constructed by the M.F. Schurman Company Limited. The existing structure was moved to the rear of the lot and work began on its replacement, which was designed specifically to accommodate a new automatic dial system. The conversion was begun on February 9, 1950, ending the need for operators in the local office. The construction contract stipulated that the wooden building be removed once the company, formally known since 1929 as the Island Telephone Company, had no longer any use for it.
In March 1950 the Schurman firm hauled the old structure to land owned by local undertaker Percy L. Bowness at 175 Duke Street. The building was converted to a rental property, the first tenant being Sinclair D. Reid, manager of the Bank of Commerce, who resided in the house from 1951 to 1963. The building stayed in Bowness hands until 1965 when it was sold it to J. Lorne Driscoll and Henry Wedge who also used it as a rental property. In 1971, the dwelling was sold to Ivan and Florence Wright who lived in it until 1989. The house has had two other owners since that time.
Source: City of Summerside, Heritage Property Profiles
The heritage value of the house is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the one-and-one half storey massing of the structure
- the moderately pitched gable roof
- the brick chimney
- the main entrance facing the street with gable roof vestibule
- the shed roof dormer above the main entrance (originally was a gable roof dormer)
- the narrow single storey shed roof extension at the southeast corner of the building
- the symmetrical window placement of the facade
- the original placement of windows on the east, south and west elevations