Description of Historic Place
The large two-and-one-half storey former warehouse at 359 Water Street is located on the north side of Water Street on the east corner of Cedar Street. The main entrance is on the east elevation adjacent to the Confederation Trail (former Railway Line) and it has a red steel roof. The south gable end faces Water Street. It is associated with shipbuilding and commerce in Summerside's history. Plans are underway to have the building transformed into mid-scale condos and commercial space. The registration includes the building and its lot.
The large two-and-one-half storey building on the east corner of Water and Cedar Streets is one of the original structures left standing along Water Street West. For this reason it has substantial significance has a reminder of the streetscape in the early years of Summerside. It is also important as a link to the days when shipbuilding flourished along the town's waterfront.
It was most likely constructed for the Hon. William Richards, a well-known resident of Bideford, PEI. On a series of deeds, this particular lot was referred to as the Richards Warehouse property. Captain Richards was born in Swansea, Wales and as a young master mariner came in contact with ship owner James Yeo of Port Hill. In 1849, he married Mr. Yeo's daughter, Susan, and continued his career of sailing ships, eventually settling in Bideford and building ninety-four vessels of his own.
In 1870, he purchased several pieces of land in Summerside from Donald Ramsay, including a shipyard running 254 feet along the shore opposite the bottom of Cedar Street. Donald Ramsay was an early resident of the town and for many years he and his brothers John and Hugh built ships for local businessmen. Sometime before 1881, he and his family moved to Lot 13 where he continued his trade as a shipbuilder prior to moving to the United States in the mid 1880s.
It is assumed that William Richards used the warehouse measuring 80 by 28 feet to store produce, principally grain, which was shipped on board his numerous vessels that sailed from Summerside to Great Britain, South America, and the Mediterranean. Between 1864 and 1881 twelve vessels of various types were built for him at Summerside, most of them by John Ramsay who held the position of foreman in the Richards shipyard for many years.
Hon. William Richards served in the PEI Legislature in the 1870s and was a principal shareholder in the Charlottetown Steam Navigation Company. He was an active traveller up until his death at age 94 in 1913. His son, John, represented 2nd Prince in the Legislature from 1908 to 1916 and worked with his father in shipbuilding and produce export. At some point, the property at 359 Water Street was put in his name. After his death in 1917, his widow, Isabel (nee Broad), sold the warehouse to Brace, McKay and Company Limited. They were especially known for importing and selling special wire fencing for fox pens.
In 1949, the warehouse was bought by Patrick L. Morris of Kinkora. Mr. Morris ran a business of producing livestock feed under the national Shur-Gain brand name. He built a four-storey feed mill in Kinkora in 1946 and three years later acquired the Summerside property in order to open a second mill and provide better service to feed dealers in Prince County. By the mid 1950s, he was selling his feed to 125 stores across the Island.
After the death of Mr. Morris in 1957, his feed mills were sold to Canada Packers Limited. In 1964, they sold the property on Water Street to the locally owned MacFarlane Produce Limited. Three years later, the company sold it to the Summerside Co-operative Association Limited for storage and as a retail outlet for feed and farm supplies. The business changed hands in 1999 when Co-op Atlantic, with a head office in Moncton, took over the property. In 2002, it was deeded to Atlantic Co-operative Country Stores, which advertised feed and fencing along with other supplies. The outlet closed in July 2008. In April 2009, approval was granted by the City to allow developers to transform the property into mid-scale condominiums.
Source: City of Summerside, Heritage Property Profile
The building is valued for the following character-defining elements:
- the rectangular footprint
- the concrete foundation
- the steeply pitched gable roof with relatively wide overhang
- the shed-roofed open platform at ground level on east facade, currently serving as the main entrance
- the windows on the east and west elevations
- the two entrances on the east elevation and one on the north elevation