Description of Historic Place
This two storey Colonial Revival house at 151 Belmont is located on a treed lot on the north side of the street at the intersection with Eustane Street. It has a square footprint with an impressive wraparound sunporch. The main entrance on Belmont Street connects to a two storey pedimented projection on the east side. The hipped roof is black asphalt and the building is clad in wide gray siding with white trim. The registration includes the parcel and the building.
The attractive two-storey residence at 151 Belmont Street has heritage value as the home built for Thomas Johnston, who was well known in Summerside as the owner and founder of a successful plumbing, heating and electrical company.
In 1919, Mr. Johnston purchased a sizable lot 140 feet deep and measuring 180 feet along the north side of Belmont Street. His new home was constructed in the summer of 1922 and was situated on the corner of Eustane Street, allowing the subdivision of the lot for two other houses. The house at 157 Belmont was constructed for his daughter Olga in 1931. The house on the lot at 161 Belmont Street was brought to that location from Water Street East for use by the family.
Thomas W. Johnston was the son of James and Mary Johnston who had come to Summerside around 1878. He trained as a tinsmith and was well established in his own business by 1891. He branched out into plumbing, heating and electrical work and in 1911 he took into the business his son, Frank, and his wife's brother, Herman Callbeck. That same year, the Thomas Johnston Company built a two-storey brick store on Water Street.
Other family members joined the thriving business. The establishment of a branch in Moncton in 1916 led to Frank's departure to manage the business there. In 1930, Mr. Johnston's son, Arthur, became a principal owner along with his daughter Olga's husband, Ralph Williams. Olga worked in the business as a stenographer. When Thomas Johnston died in 1953 at age 87 his obituary noted that on his retirement three years before he was "the oldest active businessman in town".
In addition to his plumbing business, Mr. Johnston was a director of the Pioneer Publishing Company, a valued member and chief of the local fire department and a town councillor for several terms. His wife, the former Elizabeth Callbeck of Tryon, was also active in the community. She passed away in 1933 and Mr. Johnston remarried in 1943. He and his wife, Laura Parlee, lived in a second floor apartment in his Water Street building.
Thomas Johnston's eldest daughter, Eva, and her husband, J. Everett Phillips, also occupied the house at 151 Belmont for many years. Mr. Phillips, who was an accountant and a local representative for the Crown Life Insurance Company, had an office in the Johnston commercial building. In 1934, Mr. Phillips moved to Moncton to take a promotion with Crown Life, but returned to Summerside around 1939. Mrs. Eva Phillips passed away at age 49 in 1944.
The Belmont Street residence was sold in 1945 to well-known businessman Leslie F. Simmons. Born in Belmont Lot 16 in 1890, he became involved in many aspects of the potato industry. In addition to farming, he was a founder of the farm produce company Simmons and MacFarlane Limited, the Scotties potato chip plant in Nova Scotia, the PEI Bag Company, and the SMD Fertilizer Company. Mr. Simmons and his wife, Daisy Morell, left their farm in Freetown to move to Summerside. The house remained in their hands until 1968.
The residence became the property of the trustees of Trinity United Church who wanted a second manse to accommodate an associate minister for the growing congregation. Rev. Hugh Farquhar and his family occupied the house until his departure for Pictou, Nova Scotia in 1971. The Director of the Veterans Land Act then owned the residence from 1972 until 1974 after which it changed hands numerous times, coming into the hands of the current owners in 1985.
Source: City of Summerside, Heritage Property Profile
The Colonial Revival style character-defining elements of the house include:
- the two-storey massing and form of the building exhibiting typical features of the Foursquare (Colonial Revival) style, such as a hipped roof and hipped roofed dormers
- the two storey pedimented projection on the east elevation
- the location, size and shape of original window and door openings appear to have been retained, including two sets of oriels, all the windows have decorative caps
- the one large chimney of brick
- the large decorative modillions under the wide eaves
- the hipped roofed wrap around sunporch/sunroom on the south and east elevations
- the transom lights, side lights of the doorway
- the asymmetrical arrangement of windows in singles, pairs and one palladian arrangement on the south elevation
- the contribution of the house to the heritage character of the Belmont and Eustane Street streetscapes