Description of Historic Place
15 Richmond Street is a wood framed, Georgian influenced apartment house. Its features include a symmetrical facade, gable roof, and brick chimneys on either end of the roof. The designation encompasses the building's exterior and parcel; it does not include its interior.
It is not clear exactly when the house at 15 Richmond Street was constructed, but there is a strong oral tradition in the community that officers of Fort George, the military establishment on the southwest bank of the town, once tenanted this house. An 1823 Prince Edward Island Register newspaper advertisement offers the property for rent. While the tenant at the time was a Mr. Legett, the notice indicated that it had previously been rented by Colonel Holland. The son of Surveyor-General Samuel Holland, Colonel John Frederick Holland was barracks master at Fort George.
The owner of the house in 1823 was Samuel May Williams. Merchant, builder and engraver, Williams was paid just over three pounds in 1810 to provide direction and mile plates for the colony's crude highways. Then as now, these signs appear to have been the victim of theft and vandalism. Mr. Williams attempted to sell the house in 1828. A sale notice in the Prince Edward Island Register described the property as being "capital roomy and convenient...with a good stable and well of water in front". Mr. LeGytt (sic) (Legett) was mentioned as a previous tenant, George Irving the present one.
In 1835, jailer, merchant and first Mayor of Charlottetown, Robert Hutchinson purchased this property for his daughter, Isabel and son-in-law, James D. Mason. James Mason's obituary appeared in the Daily Examiner of April 23, 1900. The 74-year-old man had come to the Island from his native Durham, England 55 years before. He had entered into the shipbuilding trade with his uncle, Andrew Duncan, later joining the firm Duncan Mason and Company and eventually founding his own business.
Duncan's widow, Isabel, continued to live in the house for a number of years. She is listed as living at 15 Richmond in the Ballingall's Directory of 1914. After Mrs. Mason's death, the property was purchased by her son-in-law, Archibald Irwin. Irwin appears to have been operating a printing business from the site for some time by this point. He was listed in Ballingall's 1914 Directory as being at 13 Richmond Street, and a 1922 fire insurance plan shows a substantial addition on the northwest corner of the house containing the operation. The printing facilities at the address appear to have been destroyed in a disastrous fire described in the Guardian of February 15, 1922. The adjoining house was noted as being A. Irwin's residence.
The Guardian of March 3, 1941 carried Mr. Archibald Irwin's obituary. The 73-year-old man had been a printer all his professional life. In the beginning, he had worked for the Examiner newspaper. He founded the Irwin Printing Company in 1900. Special note was made of his publishing of the Prince Edward Island Magazine.
Most of the house's original details have been lost during renovations over the years. This began with a substantial remodeling undertaken by Irwin around 1920. Today, this house is one of the oldest in the area and supports the streetscape.
Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
The following character-defining elements contribute to the heritage value of 15 Richmond Street:
- the overall two-and-one-half storey massing of the building
- the wood shingle cladding
- the gable roof
- the pair of large brick chimneys
- the central vesibule with central main door with sidelights
- the style, size and shape of the windows, including the grouped windows, the bay window and the centre dormer windows