Description of Historic Place
This house at 211 Convent Street is located on the north side of the street on the block between Granville and Spring. It is two-and-one-half storeys with a gable roof and is distinguished by double stacked square bays facing the street, each with gable roofs and a single storey extension slightly set back on the east side of the house. It is clad in gray vinyl with white trim. The registration includes the parcel and the building.
The two-and-one-half storey dwelling at 211 Convent Street has heritage value as the home of several noteworthy citizens in the history of Summerside. It is also a solid presence in the residential area of the town that was being developed between 1895 and 1910.
The house was built in 1895 for William Frame Lyle (b. 1867) who grew up in Lot 16 and came to Summerside where he worked as a clerk in the large stores of Sinclair and Stewart and R.T. Holman. In the early 1890s, he married Bessie McMurdo, daughter of James McMurdo of Lot 25 and the couple had one son, Merrill, who was born in May 1896. When Mr. Lyle developed tuberculosis, the family sought a change in climate in Wetaskiwin, Alberta. After Mr. and Mrs. Lyle passed away in 1901 and 1910, Merrill went to live with his father's brother, John, who lived in the area. It is interesting to note that Bessie's brother, Charlie McMurdo, also lived in Wetaskiwin, along with many other Islanders who settled there.
Bessie Lyle sold the house at 211 Convent in June 1902 to another recent widow, Mrs. Thomas Whittamore Read. As the former Elvira Davidson, she had married Capt. Read in 1880 and moved to PEI from Tidnish, Nova Scotia. Her husband had been a master mariner aboard ships owned by his brother-in-law, John Lefurgey, until he retired from the sea to become a member of his brother's produce and coal business, Joseph Read and Company. When he died at age 45, Mrs. Reid was left with two young children, Lorne and Marion. She sold the Convent Street house in 1925.
The new owner of the large residence was Thomas F. Perry, who had been living in Yardville, New Jersey. He was a native of St. Nicholas, PEI and spent many years working in the United States, where he met his wife, Hester Chandler, of New York State. One of his positions in Brookline, NY, was as foreman with Chandler's Oilcloth Company. After his wife died at an early age, he returned to Prince Edward Island and moved his three sons and one daughter into the house on Convent Street. He set up a sawmill on Water Street West and operated it into the 1940s. Mr. Perry sold the house in 1932 to George Sheen.
George Leonard Sheen was born in 1879, the son of Matthew and Margaret Sheen of Kensington. As a young man, he lived and worked in Saskatoon, but around 1914, returned to PEI, where he managed the firm of Samuel Kennedy and Son in O'Leary. In 1929, he moved to Summerside to take a position as assistant manager in the produce office of R.T. Holman Limited. He and his wife, the former Eudievella Baker of Freetown, had five children born between 1909 and 1918.
The house became home to George and Eudie Sheen for the rest of their lives. Mr. Sheen passed away in 1947, but his widow remained active in the community. Their son Eric (b. 1918) married Jean Nicholson in 1946 and the young couple built a one-storey addition onto the east side of the house for their living quarters and used the bedrooms on the upper floor of the main house. They had two children.
Eric Sheen served overseas in the RCAF during the Second World War, returning home to resume the career he had started with the Bank of Nova Scotia. He left his bank position to become the Summerside agent for Imperial Oil Limited and then became associated with his brother, Gerald, in the shoe firm, Sheen and MacInnis. He was active in the community and for a time was commanding officer of the Summerside Sea Cadet Corps. He died in 1969 at age 50.
Mr. Sheen's mother died the following year and his widow took over the main part of the house and rented the addition to various tenants over the years. In 2006, Mrs. Eric Sheen moved from her residence of fifty years into living quarters designed for seniors. The property at 211 Convent remains with the Sheen family.
Source: City of Summerside, Heritage Property Profile
The heritage value of 211 Convent is expressed through the following character-defining elements:
- the two-and-one-half storey massing and form of this house with rectangular footprint and east extension, steeply pitched gable roof with asphalt shingles
- the original placement and symmetrical arrangement of windows on several elevations of the main house, including the double stacked square bays of the south elevation
- the hipped roof extension, single storey, extending from the vestibule to the east and around to the north elevation with a brick chimney
- the brick chimney at the centre of the main house
- the matching round arch windows in the attic storey of the east and the west gable ends
- the contribution of the house to the heritage character of the Convent Street streetscape