Description of Historic Place
This house at 143 Spring Street is an example of a vernacular Island Ell house with Gothic Revival decorative elements. It is one-and-one-half storeys and is situated on the east side of Spring Street and the north side of Pleasant. Since the main section of the house runs north/south along Spring Street the building has the appearance of fronting onto Pleasant Street. The choice of three paint colours highlights the architectural details of the house: red for highlights, light green/grey for walls and darker green for the trim. The registration includes the parcel and the building.
The residence on the northeast corner of Spring and Pleasant Streets has heritage value as the home for almost forty years of well known citizen, Silas M. Hicks. It is also valued for its Gothic Revival architectural elements. It is historically interesting as one of the first residences to be used as an apartment building in Summerside.
When it was under construction in 1898 a local newspaper remarked: "It is a large and commodious residence, and promises to be a very handsome one, adding much to the appearance of that part of the town, which is rapidly becoming a popular residential quarter." The Mechanics Manufacturing Company, which consisted of several local builders and tradesmen, had the contract for the large dwelling.
Silas Melbourne Hicks was born in Dorchester, New Brunswick and came to PEI in 1878, the year that he married Summerside native Elizabeth E. Cole, the daughter of Robert and Margaret Cole. He took a job as clerk with R.T. Holman Limited and worked his way up to manager of the grocery department. In 1885, he left the firm to join with three other young men in establishing their own general store under the name of Warren, Hicks, and McMurdo Brothers. Around 1901, he became associated with the insurance firm of Hyndman and Company of Charlottetown. He started as the local agent and later became district manager, travelling the countryside and becoming well known in western PEI. Mr. Hicks was also a director of the Pioneer Publishing Company from 1887 until his death in 1936.
S.M. Hicks became a widower in 1933. Mrs. Hicks, like her husband, had been a loyal member of the Presbyterian Church and had been an organizer of the Young Women's Missionary Society. The couple had one child, Annie, who died as a young married woman, Mrs. William Hall Waugh, in Calgary in 1918. When Mr. Hicks passed away at age 80 in September 1936, he left his property to his long time secretary, Leona Adeline Green. She put the house on the market the next month, but it did not sell until 1938.
It was acquired by the firm of R. Champion and Sons Cold Storage Plant of Kensington. The partners consisted of Russell Champion and his sons, Ervin, Lester and Everett. Mr. Champion, who had moved from Malpeque to Kensington around 1920, was a prominent businessman and mayor in that village. He and three sons, who were engaged in construction, converted the house into two apartment units. It became known as Champion Apartments during their eight year ownership.
The new owner in 1946 was Willis R. Warren, a well known Summerside contractor, who rented the property under the name Hick's Apartment House and made it into three apartments. After his death in 1957, his wife Clara Warren became the owner along with her son Heath. She was living in one of the apartments when the building was sold in June 1961. It has had various owners since that time, but still retains its interior layout of three apartments.
Source: City of Summerside, Heritage Property Profile
The heritage value of the house is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the stone foundation
- the one-and-one-half storey massing and form of this house with Ell footprint
- the cedar shingle and wood clapboard cladding
- the steeply pitched gable roof with asphalt shingles
- the brick chimney
- the variety of single, grouped and round arch windows
- the window and door caps
- the twin mansard roofed bracketted bays on the south elevation and stacked bay windows on the west elevation
- the dormer windows and half moon fan shaped windows in the attic gables
- the stringcourses separating the upper gables