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Honourable George Coles Building

175 Richmond Street, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, C1A, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2004/05/18

In Winter; Province of PEI
Front Elevation
In Winter; Province of PEI
Side Elevation
Early 1900s; Unknown
Post Card showing Law Courts in Queen's Square

Other Name(s)

Honourable George Coles Building
Law Courts Building

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1874/01/01 to 1876/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2004/09/28

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Honourable George Coles Building is a three and a half storey Italianate style building with a brick exterior with Wallace sandstone trim. It is situated prominently in Queen Square in Charlottetown adjacent to the Legislature. The construction began in 1874 and was completed in 1876. It housed the Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island until 1976 when a fire gutted the building. The designation includes the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Honourable George Coles Building was designated because of its role in the judicial history of the Province, its prominent place on Queen Square and its fine Italianate architecture. The former Law Courts Building was erected in order to house the Supreme Court of PEI. This court had previously been held in private homes, in nearby Province House, and in a smaller structure built to house both the post office and court. The prominent local architect, Thomas Alley, was chosen to design the building in 1874. It was constructed of Island made brick in the Italianate style. The tall, round-headed windows were trimmed with label surround and key made of Wallace sandstone. The doors were set in and doorways were trimmed with stone. The mansard roof was trimmed with iron cresting and contained a gas-illuminated clock on the west side of the building, which was unique in Charlottetown at the time.

The building, which is directly east of Province House, was in a fashionable area at the time. In the 1930s, the exterior of the building was altered. The windows on the south side were shortened in height and converted into two rows of square windows all trimmed with the same stone.

In 1976, fire destroyed the interior of the building and badly damaged the roof including its decorative Victorian clock tower. After this event, the Law Courts were moved to a larger and modern building on the Charlottetown waterfront, while the remnants of the original structure were renovated to house PEI Government offices and the Public Archives of PEI. It was also renamed the Honourable George Coles Building, in honour of PEI's first premier after Responsible Government was achieved. He was also a Father of Confederation.

Source: PEI Heritage Advisory Committee Files

Character-Defining Elements

The following character-defining elements illustrate the Italianate architectural style of the building:

- the red brick exterior
- the Mansard roof
- the Wallace sandstone trim
- the placement, round arch shape, and trim detail of the windows and doors
- the centre clock on the south side roof
- the foundation of the building
- the stone quoins on the corners of the building
- the building's prominent place on Queen's Square



Prince Edward Island

Recognition Authority

Province of Prince Edward Island

Recognition Statute

Heritage Places Protection Act

Recognition Type

Designated Historic Place

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Security and Law

Function - Category and Type


Office or office building


Courthouse and/or Registry Office

Architect / Designer

Thomas Alley (1820-1900)



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Culture and Heritage Division, PEI Department of Community and Cultural Affairs, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7N8 File #: 4320-20/C2

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places

175 Richmond Street / Hon. George Coles Building

175 Richmond Street / Hon. George Coles Building

The Honourable George Coles Building is a brick, Italianate public building located on Queen’s Square next to Province House, the Island’s Legislature and the place where…


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