Description of Historic Place
The two-storey Foursquare Colonial Revival influenced house at 76 Water Street stands alone on the south side of Water Street with white wood shingle exterior cladding and a red asphalt hipped roof. It features a verandah over the north elevation facing Water Street. The registration includes the building and its lot.
This Foursquare style dwelling at 76 Water Street has heritage value as the sole survivor of a row of houses that once stood on this southern section of Water Street. It is an example of a common architectural style in early twentieth century PEI and a very visible reminder of the changes that have taken place in the development of Water Street East from residential to commercial use.
The house was built in 1914 for Frank A. Johnston. He grew up in Summerside, the son of well known plumbing and heating contractor, Thomas Johnston, and as a young man of 22 bought the lot measuring 86 feet along the south side of Water Street and running back to the shoreline of Bedeque Bay. Presumably, he moved in shortly after his marriage to Eudavilla Lefurgey in 1915.
Frank Johnston, who had trained with his father in the plumbing, heating and electrical trades, went to Moncton in 1916 to open a similar business. His new house was advertised to let or rent, but it wasn't until 1919 that the Johnston couple sold it. They later returned to the town in 1924 when Mr. Johnston was hired as manager of the Summerside electric plant. In 1931, he became chief engineer of the new CNR Hotel in Charlottetown, now known as the Charlottetown Hotel.
The property at 76 Water Street was purchased in March 1919 by Robert W. Morrison, a local businessman, who at that time was operating a grocery and confectionary store on Water Street. He and his wife, Cecelia, and their six children moved into the house. A newspaper, in noting the change in ownership, remarked: "the location ranks among the most attractive and valuable in the town." Cecelia died in late October 1920 and a month later Mr. Morrison sold the residence.
The purchaser was William C. Clark, originally of Wilmot Valley, who moved into the Water Street house with his family of five children. His wife, Mabel, was the daughter of Alexander and Mabel Lefurgey of North Bedeque. Mr. Clark farmed in the Summerside area for many years and after the death of his wife in 1931, lived alone until the early 1940s, at which time he rented out rooms to wartime RCAF personnel. He built a second storey on the porch at the back of the house in order to create a small apartment for himself with an outside entrance. The remainder of the house was rented out to various tenants, the last one, Lester C. Johnston, buying the house in 1958.
Mr. and Mrs. Johnston were natives of St. Peter's Road, Kings County, where for many years he worked with the federal Department of Fisheries. After coming to Summerside, he was manager of the Polar Quick Freeze Company connected with Jenkins' Cannery. After Mr. Johnston's death in 1967, Bernice Johnston, nee MacDonald, remained in the house, not wanting to part with her home. Her sister, Daphne MacDonald, a retired nurse, lived with her from 1975 until her death in 1983. Since the passing of Mrs. Johnston in 2002 at the age of 100, the property has had several owners.
Source: City of Summerside, Heritage Property Profile
The heritage value of the house is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the two storey massing and form of the building exhibiting typical features of the Four Square (Colonial Revival) style
- the hipped roof
- the two brick chimneys
- the wide eaves with decorative bracketting
- the hipped roof dormer
- the location, size and shape of original window and door openings
- the asymmetrical arrangement and variety of wooden windows in singles, pairs and one palladian arrangement on the north elevation
- the hipped roof verandah with railing and square support posts on the north elevation
- the two storey enclosed back porch on the south elevation with shed roof
- the cladding of cedar shingles with wooden trim