Description of Historic Place
The Georgetown Historic Inn is an example of the Classical Revival style of architecture in PEI. The two and one half storey building is located on a tree lined street in Georgetown, the capital of Kings County, PEI. The registration includes the footprint of the building.
The Georgetown Historic Inn is valued for its Classical Revival style; its association with the Hon. Joseph Wightman; and its contribution to the streetscape of Georgetown.
Built in 1840 as a residence by local shipbuilder, Joseph Wightman, the building is significant because it dates back to the earliest days of Georgetown's history when it flourished during the heyday of the PEI shipbuilding boom. Wightman had extensive businesses as early as 1823 when he first moved to the community. In later years, the building served variously as a bank, tearoom, post office, Masonic hall, and hardware store. Most recently, it has been remodelled into a 4 star bed and breakfast, the Georgetown Historic Inn.
Joseph Wightman (1806-1887) had been born and formally educated in Dumfries, Scotland. His parents moved the family to PEI in 1823, settling on St. Andrew Point (now Wightman's Point). Their land (179 acres) was leased from Sir James Montgomery, one of the Island's major absentee proprietory land owners. By 1857, the Wightmans' had purchased the property outright.
Wightman advanced the agricultural potential of his land considerably, successfully producing varieties of seed grain, cheese, and butter. Much of this was exported, especially his black oats which were sent to England during the Crimean War. He also successfully exploited the fishing and shipbuilding potential of his property and operated general stores at his homestead, in Georgetown, and in the developing community of Montague Bridge - now known as the Town of Montague.
It was only natural that a man of such business acumen would venture into the realm of politics. He would serve as a member of the legislature for several Kings County ridings throughout the latter half of the 19th Century representing the Liberal Party. One of his political issues was his work to settle the vexatious Land Question. Like his own family was able to do, he wanted all Islanders to have the opportunity to own their own land or become freeholders.
Wightman served as Speaker of the Legislature on several occasions and was part of the committee struck to establish the Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown. He was not a sitting member from 1862-1866, due to the fact, it is speculated, that he lost two sons during that period who were involved in the American Civil War.
The Georgetown Historic Inn is a tangible reminder of the accomplishment and sacrifice of one of the community's earliest founders and it remains a landmark in the Town of Georgetown today.
Source: Heritage Places files, Dept. of Education, Early Learning & Culture, Charlottetown, PE
File # : 4310/G8
The following elements embody the heritage value and Classical Revival style of the building:
- the two and one half storey design with pitched roof
- the simple mouldings on some of the original windows
- the use of corner pilasters
- the front verandah
- the eave returns
- the decorative frieze design in the moulding above and below the second storey on the gable ends