Description of Historic Place
The impressive two-and-one-half storey Classical Revival influenced house at 289 Harvard Street sits very close to the street on the north side of Harvard at the intersection with Granville. The main entrance is centred on Harvard with a vestibule and pedimented balcony. The main building has a rectangular footprint with a one-and-one-half storey extension to the north which can be seen behind the large lawn with trees and shrubs separating the house from Granville Street. It is painted gray with white trim and black shutters. The registration includes the parcel and the building.
This large dwelling at 189 Harvard Street has heritage value as the home of early Summerside carpenter, Stephen Baker. It was also for many years the home of Neil Sinclair, lawyer and United States Consular Agent. It was also the residence of lawyer Heath Strong. It has retained many of its Classical Revival influenced architectural features.
Stephen Baker constructed the house for his own use after he purchased the lot in June 1875. Mr. Baker was a son of Joseph Baker and Catherine Callbeck and grew up in Central Bedeque. In 1882, the property was deeded to local businessmen Howard Farrow and James B. Clark, who were adherents of the Summerside Baptist Church of which Stephen Baker was a founding member. Presumably the two men offered to dispose of the property for Mr. Baker and his family who had moved to Boston. Mr. and Mrs. Baker both died there in 1891.
The house was advertised in the local newspapers in September 1882. The advertisement said: "The house is new, and completely finished from attic to cellar. It was built by Mr. Baker for his own use, and there were no pains spared to make it first-class with respect to comfort and finish... Altogether the property is a most desirable investment, the equal of which is rarely thrown on the market. Some half dozen years ago it could not be bought for $4,000..." Neil Sinclair, a local merchant, bought it at auction for $1,250. At that time, Mr. Sinclair was 38 years of age and he and his wife, the former Jennie Carruthers, had five children ranging in age from one to fourteen. The family presumably moved into the house shortly after it was acquired. A daughter, Ethel, was born in the residence in 1886.
In 1905, the firm of J.M. Clark and Company did some extensive work that probably consisted of the addition of the ell on the back of the dwelling. It is likely that the front entryway and balcony were also constructed at that time.
Mr. Sinclair continued to be closely involved with his mercantile business, which since 1885 had been known as Sinclair and Stewart, a rival to the R.T. Holman department store. Upon his retirement in 1908, he assumed the position of Consular Agent for the United States, a post he held until his death in July 1925. Mrs. Sinclair had died in 1923.
The house was willed to their daughter, Ethel, who had been living with her father. On November 4, 1925, she married lawyer Heath Strong, son of local businessman, C. Edward Strong. Heath Strong entered the Legislature for the Conservative party in 1931 and was appointed Speaker of the House in 1934. His law practice, which began in 1909, lasted until his death in 1950.
Throughout her life, Ethel Sinclair Strong took an active role in community life. She gave considerable time and support over several decades to the Prince County Hospital and served as president of the Ladies Aid for 25 years. In her later years, she was a faithful supporter of the PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation and was very interested in local history. After Mrs. Strong died at age 100 in 1987, the house had new owners, having been in Sinclair ownership since 1882.
Source: City of Summerside, Heritage Property Profile
The heritage value of the house is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the two-and-one-half storey massing and rectangular form
- the extension at the back of the main house
- the moderately pitched gable roof with asphalt shingles
- the brick chimneys
- the symmetrical arrangement of windows on the east and west elevations
- the vestibule of the main entrance topped by a turned post and spool trimmed balcony
- the gable roof with pediment above the balcony on south elevation
- the eave returns, entablature moulding under the eaves, and the window caps
- the original placement and symmetrical arrangement of windows on all elevations
- the wood clapboard cladding and decorative shingles in the balcony pediment