Description of Historic Place
The striking one-and-one-half storey vernacular Island Ell shaped house at 221 Convent Street has Gothic Revival style design elements including round arch windows in the peak of the gables, and decorative flat roofed bays. It is painted a rich deep blue with white trim that highlights its details. It is located on the north side of Convent Street on the block between Granville and Spring. The registration includes the parcel and the building.
The attractive residence at 221 Convent Street has historical significance as the home of early Summerside jeweller, Benjamin Godkin, and his family. It is also important as one of the many large homes that were constructed at the turn of the century in this residential neighbourhood.
The house was built in 1905 by J.M. Clark and Company for Benjamin Heartz Godkin (b. 1854) who trained as a watchmaker and jeweller in Charlottetown. He opened a shop in Summerside in 1881 and a few years later began advertising as Godkin Brothers, having taken into business his younger brother, George. The appointment of the latter as Collector of Customs in Summerside in 1907 led to his retirement from the jewellry business and Benjamin Godkin carried on alone.
He was well established in his career when he married Eva Inman, daughter of the late Robert Inman of Central Bedeque in October 1894. The couple had one son, Horace Heartz (b. 1896) and one daughter, Roberta (b. 1900). Mr. Godkin passed away in 1915 at age 61. His obituary described him as "a man of sterling integrity, upright and honorable in all his dealings."
Mrs. Eva Godkin carried on the business with the assistance of her son who had been working as a clerk in the store. Heartz gradually took responsibility for the business and continued to live at home until his mother's death in January 1937. Heartz Godkin married Irene Wells, daughter of the late Robert Wells, in July 1937 and the couple moved to Duke Street. The house at 221 Convent was sold in June 1937 by Roberta Godkin, who was living in Natick, Massachusetts.
The new owner of the residence was Parnell McMahon, a retired merchant from Kensington. In March 1941, he sold the large residence to local jeweller Carl E. Crockett. Mr. Crockett, who lived on Beaver Street, used the property at 221 Convent as a rental until April 1943 when it was sold to Ella Ann Green and her brother John Layton Green. The house then remained in the hands of the Green family for the next four decades. The siblings were the children of John Lea Green and Amy (Mill) Green. Their grandfather, John Green, was a grandson of the Loyalist, Daniel Green, who is considered the founder of Summerside.
Miss Ella Ann Green (b. 1902) was a schoolteacher and spent over thirty years on the staff of the Summerside High School. She passed away in 1962, a year after her retirement. Her brother, Layton Green, was given sole ownership of the house and lived there until his death at age 80 in 1984. During his lifetime, he worked in various branches of the Royal Bank in PEI as well as Saskatchewan. He later became engaged in fox ranching. Upon his demise, the house was sold and has passed through several owners since that time.
Source: City of Summerside, Heritage Property Profile
The heritage value of 221 Convent is shown in these character-defining elements:
- the one-and-one-half storey massing and form with wood frame and Ell footprint
- the steeply pitched gable roof with asphalt shingles
- the moulded entablature and window caps
- the decorative shingles and second floor beltcourse
- the round arch windows with decorative caps on all three attic gable peaks
- the decorative bargeboard trim at the eave peak, south elevation, reminiscent of stick styling
- the flat roofed sunroom extension, with balcony over, in the southeast corner, with wood railing and the glazing features six-over-six windows with transom lights
- the doorway leading onto the southeast balcony with small raised gables joining the east elevation of the main house with the south elevation of the Ell
- the original placement (and in some cases original windows) and symmetrical arrangement of many of the windows
- the decorative flat roofed bracketed bays with caps on the south elevation of the main house and the east elevation of the Ell
- the contribution of the house to the heritage character of the Convent Street streetscape