Description of Historic Place
This large asymmetrical house was originally a traditional Gable Ell design with gable roof, bay windows, wall dormers, and decorative bargeboard. It retains these features, but has been renovated and transformed from its original appearance to include more bay windows and the roofline has been extended. Today it is green with white trim and dark green highlights. There is a large lawn in front and the south elevation features two sets of stacked bays.
The house at 335 Poplar Avenue is valued for its unique architectural style with Gothic Revival elements; for its historical association with Albert L. Graves; and for its contribution to the streetscape.
Albert Leander Graves (1853 - c. 1929) was born in Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia and came to Summerside in 1869 to join the staff of the "Summerside Journal". He later became a co-owner of the newspaper, but sold out to William A. Brennan in 1880 and left PEI to go to western Canada. In December 1873, he had married Ann Lizzie McEwen, a sister to Mrs. R.T. Holman. An engraving of their house was featured in Meacham's 1880 Atlas of PEI. When the couple departed in 1881 with three children, they went to Manitoba and a few years later to St. Paul, Minnesota where Mr. Graves was "one of the makers of newspaper history in St. Paul" before becoming chief probation officer for Ramsey County.
In November 1881, the house was rented to F.H. Arnaud, manager of the local branch of the Merchants Bank of Halifax. When he was appointed general agent for PEI and moved to Charlottetown, the house was advertised to let by R.C. McLeod, who apparently had been left in charge of the property. The next tenant was Dr. Henry F. Jarvis, a well-known physician in the area. He had studied at the University of Edinburgh and while there he was one of the first surgeons to use newly discovered chloroform. He settled in St. Eleanors in 1856 and then moved to Summerside where he and his wife raised six sons and one daughter. The family resided on Poplar Avenue for a year before the property was sold by the Graves to Thomas Ramsay in November 1883.
Thomas E. Ramsay (1843-1922) resided in the house with his wife, the former Lydia Lea. Mr. Ramsay had grown up on the farm belonging to his father, James Ramsay, in Miscouche and purportedly made a fortune in the American West. After the death of his wife in 1897, Mr. Ramsay remained in the house with the help of two servants, Jessie and Elva Morrison.
In April 1903, Mr. Ramsay married Mary Sarah MacLean of Durham, Nova Scotia. This new arrangement led to major changes to the house. "Mr. Thomas E. Ramsay has just completed the reconstruction of his residence on Poplar Avenue, with the result that he now owns what is probably the best finished house in Summerside. The original building, itself a large one, has been further enlarged and rearranged. On the lower floor are a large hall, two parlors, sitting room, office, dining room, kitchen and pantries, washroom, etc. On the second floor are halls, a number of large bedrooms, a bathroom, with front and back stairways..." In 1909, he donated the land on Central Street for the construction of the first Prince County Hospital. Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay had one child, Arthur, who died at the age of seven in 1914. His widow remained in the house until she sold the property for $6000 in 1928 to Peter White of Kensington.
Peter R. White was a native of Murray River and served with the North West Mounted Police until his return to the Island in 1922, when he took up fox ranching. He and his wife, Annie May Goss, would later relocate in 1934 to the house at 325 Central Street. Mr. White had joined the Summerside police force in 1931 and went on to serve for many years as Chief of Police.
James Arthur Morrison became the new owner and lived in the large residence for the rest of his life. He and his brother, George, owned Morrison Brothers Beverages, which operated from approximately 1935 until the business was sold around 1961 to J. and T. Morris Limited of Charlottetown. George Morrison lived in the house at 343 Poplar Avenue from 1940 until 1973.
After the death of James Morrison in 1970, his widow the former Florence Grace Morris of Fernwood remained in the home. The property passed from Morrison ownership in 1976.
Source: City of Summerside, Heritage Property Profile
The heritage value of the house is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the asymmetrical one-and-one-half storey massing
- the gable roofline
- the brick chimneys
- the wood shingle cladding
- the symmetrical arrangement of windows
- the hipped roof dormers
- the stacked bay windows with decorative brackets
- the bargeboard trim
- the bracketted vestibule on the south elevation