Description of Historic Place
This large two storey Second Empire style house at 270 Central Street is a distinctive landmark in Summerside. It is on the west side of Central Street, clad in wide white vinyl and the mansard roof shingles are mottled brown asphalt. With its imposing presence, it is located "on the hill" where several prominent businessmen built attractive homes in the 1870s.
The house is valued for its Second Empire architectural style and is one of the few examples to survive the 1906 Great Fire; for its historical association with James Campbell; and for its contribution to the streetscape.
The house is shown on the 1878 Ruger's Map of Summerside and when constructed by James Campbell, probably around 1875, it stood on a lot held by the trustees of the estate of the late Joseph Green, a son of Summerside's founding resident, Daniel Green.
James Campbell was born in Lot 16 and moved to St. Eleanors prior to 1849. In January of that year, he married Mary Rose Buxton, the eldest daughter of Edward Buxton of Winsloe. Mr. Campbell became established as a merchant and in 1860 was appointed High Sheriff for Prince County. Sometime before 1863, he erected the large three storey building that became known as the Clifton House, which stood at the intersection of Water and Central Streets in Summerside. Edward Mawley and his family operated the Clifton Hotel on the second and third floors for over six decades.
Mr. Campbell and his family left Prince Edward Island about 1869 to move to Nebraska where he operated a grocery store in Colfax County. Sometime around 1874, presumably after the death of Mary, he came back to PEI where he sold real estate and occupied the position of Collector of Inland Revenue for the port of Summerside. Mr. Campbell died in 1884 and his children scattered, some of them residing in Colorado and Illinois.
The new owner of the house in 1885 was Charles Wesley Strong, a prominent resident of the town. He was born in 1829, the son of Rev. John B. Strong, who had come to Canada from England as a Methodist minister. C.W. Strong earned a living as a merchant up until 1870 when he became part owner of the Summerside Journal. In 1873, he sold out his interest in that newspaper to take the position of Collector of Customs for Summerside, a post that he held until 1904. Mr. Strong was married twice, first to Martha Wright and later to Charlotte Treadwell. His daughter Jessie (b. 1867) never married and lived at home. She was the organist at the Summerside Methodist Church for over fifty years.
In 1911, John Andrew Mann purchased the house from Mr. Strong and the lot on which it stood from the trustees of the Joseph Green estate. He was a son of William and Janet Mann of Burlington, PEI, where he farmed for many years before his marriage to Eliza Taylor of North Bedeque in 1902. Mrs. Mann died in 1927 and Mr. Mann deeded the house to his sister Bessie.
Bessie MacEachern, a widow, lived in Covehead for many years before coming to Summerside with her daughter, Jean, to live with her brother. In 1931, she sold a strip of land on the west side of the property to Allan W. Palmer who built a home on the 65 foot wide lot. Her brother, John Mann, died in 1932 and she sold the property in 1936.
The new owner became William Edgar Forbes, a well-known Summerside merchant. He was the son of John and Annie Forbes of Tyne Valley and in 1910 had come to Summerside where he began work as a clerk for Brace, McKay and Company. He remained with the firm for forty six years, retiring as president in 1956. He didn't marry until 1938. His wife was Miriam Irene Profitt, who left her job as a teacher at the Kensington High School. The couple had one son and one daughter. After Mr. Forbes died at age 78 in 1968, his widow stayed in the house until 1972.
The property has had three owners since that time. It is currently home to a day care centre.
Source: City of Summerside, Heritage Property Profile
The heritage value of the house is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the two storey massing and form with rectangular footprint
- the mansard roof
- the bracketing under the eaves
- the large brick chimney centrally located
- the twin square bay windows on the east elevation
- the curved roofed dormers on the second storey of the east, north and west elevations
- the single storey extension off the north elevation with mansard roof