Description of Historic Place
This house is located on the southwest corner of the intersection of Summer and Winter Streets in the heart of the residential part of Summerside's Heritage District. The house originally had a gable-ell configuration, but now is a two-storey home with Four Square Colonial Revival detailing. Its features include a low pitched hipped roof with wide eaves and modillion brackets, as well as a centrally located columned portico.
The residence at 92 Summer Street has historical significance as the former home of prominent oyster dealer, James A. Sharp, brother to John and Robert Sharp who also owned homes in the neighbourhood. The house also has importance as an example of a building that has undergone radical redesign. It supports the heritage character of the Summer and Winter streetscapes.
The son of James Sharp and Margaret Linkletter, James A. Sharp had grown up on a farm in the St. Eleanor's area and sometime around 1870 opened a store in Summerside. He gradually built up a successful business as a dealer in flour and oysters and also became widely known as an owner of fine horses.
In 1896, he hired local contractors Clark and McFarlane to build a house at 92 Summer Street. He moved into it in December of that year, after having rented since 1891 the residence on Central Street of the Hon. Angus McMillan. His new dwelling was described as commodious as well as "a model of neatness and convenience." Mr. Sharp, who was then 59, moved in with his wife, the former Zilpha Bell, and six children ranging in age from 7 to 22. Ten years after the house was built, it barely escaped destruction in the Great Fire of 1906. The press stated it was saved by "strenuous efforts."
Major changes were made to the residence in 1928. What had originally been an ell-shaped house, with an extension to the rear, was transformed into a square two-storey dwelling. According to a local newspaper, "The residence of H.S. Sharp on Summer Street is undergoing extensive remodelling that will make it into practically a new house. Mr. H.M. Downing has the contract. The building was moved back and placed upon a new concrete foundation. It will be fitted up in first-class style with all modern improvements."
Major changes had also taken place among family members. Mrs. Sharp died in 1916 and Mr. Sharp in 1921. The property was left to their son Herbert and his sister May who had moved back into the house after the death of her husband, William McKie, in 1921. Like his father, Herbert engaged in the oyster business in Malpeque Bay. He bequeathed a generous portion of his estate to a scholarship made available to students attending his alma mater, Mount Allison University. After the death of her brother in 1952, May McKie stayed in the house for two more years and then moved to 170 Harvard Street.
The residence was sold to local physician, John B. Downing. He was a graduate of Dalhousie Medical School and studied internal medicine in Montreal. Around 1951, he opened a medical practice in Summerside and over the years served as a general practitioner, internist, and as head of the Prince County Hospital radiology department. Dr. Downing and his wife, Elizabeth Gillespie, raised a family of four at 92 Summer Street. He died in 1995 and the house passed to its current owners in 1998. For several summers they opened the residence for bed and breakfast accommodation known as the Copple Summer Home.
Source: City of Summerside, Heritage Property Profiles
The heritage value of the house is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the two-storey massing and four square Colonial Revival style of the building
- the low pitched hipped roof with asphalt shingles
- the three brick chimneys
- the wide eaves with modillion brackets
- the two hipped roof dormers also with modillion brackets on the east and south elevations
- the main entrance vestibule with fluted Doric columns and pediment with modillions
- the corner pilasters
- the bracketted bay windows on the east and north elevations, ground level
- the oriel window on the south elevation also with modillions
- the eclectic mix of single and paired windows, most equipped with wooden storm windows
- the single-storey shed roofed (with balustraded balcony) extension that also has modillions under the eaves