Description of Historic Place
The attractive one-and-one-half storey house with Queen Anne Revival style elements at 56 Spring Street was once described as a "decided relief in architectural design." It is situated on the west side of Spring Street at the intersection with Church Street. It has a basic square footprint with a long sloping roof over a single storey sunporch and main entry on Spring. There are bell shaped dormers facing Spring and it is painted burgundy with white trim and has a black asphalt shingled roof. It is clad in narrow wood clapboard and cedar shingles. The registration includes the parcel and the building.
This substantial residence at 56 Spring Street has heritage value for its unusual design and architectural integrity which has elements of the Queen Anne Revival style. It is also important as the home of several noteworthy Summerside citizens, principally Colonel Ernest H. Strong who resided here for almost thirty years.
It was built in 1912 for Robert Hector Morrison after he purchased the 94 by 50 foot lot on the southwest corner of Spring and Church Streets from James LeRoy Holman. The lot was vacant as a result of the Great Fire of 1906, which had swept through the town destroying over seventy houses. The designer of the house is unknown, but its unusual features led to the following comment that accompanied a photo of the residence in a 1913 Charlottetown newspaper: "It is a decided relief in architectural design."
In September 1912, Robert H. Morrison married Catherine Edna Noonan, daughter of Jeremiah and Margaret Noonan who lived at 203 Fitzroy Street. The young Morrison couple had six children between the years 1913 and 1925. Robert worked with his father, D.R. Morrison, in the construction trade until 1927 when he moved his family to Arvida, Quebec where he worked for the Aluminum Company of Canada, eventually becoming head of construction for the ALCAN firm. He and his son, Robert Jr., both drowned in 1947.
The house at 56 Spring Street was purchased in 1927 by chiropractor, Aubrey Lewis MacDonald, who had come to Summerside in 1925. He and his wife, Oressa, and their children remained in Summerside until 1932. In May of that year they left for Brandon, Manitoba. A note in the newspaper about their departure noted that Dr. MacDonald took a special interest in the Summerside Rifle Club and "won the distinction of being one of the most accurate marksmen in the Maritimes."
Ernest H. Strong, the son of Edward Strong of Crapaud, became the new proprietor of the two storey dwelling. He was 46 years old and recently married to Clara Wilkinson of O'Leary. His first wife, Loretta, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Daniel MacNeill of Summerside, had died at age 42 in 1928. After moving into their new residence, Mr. and Mrs. Strong had two children, Edward W. and Elizabeth.
Colonel Strong was well known in the community as a lawyer, having been called to the PEI Bar in 1912. He served overseas during World War I and was a recipient of a Military Cross. His interest in the military led to a post as commanding officer of the PEI Highlanders in the early 1930s. He later turned his attention to politics and was elected to the Legislature for 5th Prince in 1943. For more that two decades, 1931 to 1958, he served as Stipendiary Magistrate for the Town of Summerside.
After the death of Ernest Strong in 1961, his widow Clara continued to reside in the house. She moved to a nursing home in the fall of 1979 and died in May 1980. Her former home was sold by the executors of the estate in May 1981. The purchasers lived there for three years before selling it to the current owners.
Source: City of Summerside, Heritage Property Profile
The heritage value of the house is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the massing and form of this house with rectangular footprint, brick foundation, large flowing clipped gable roof with asphalt shingles and eave returns
- the brick chimney
- the original placement and asymmetrical character and arrangement of window and dormer elements, including window caps, particularly on the north and east elevations
- the eight sided bell shaped dormer/tower with finial and the small four sided bell shaped dormer with finial on the east elevation
- the shed dormer at the back of the house
- the glazed sunporch with transom lights and one-over-one windows
- the symmetrical twin bay windows on the first storey of the south elevation
- the wood clapboard and wood shingle cladding separated by a beltcourse