Description of Historic Place
The "Little Harry" Williams House is a 1 ½ storey wood frame, Gothic Revival ell-shaped farmhouse built circa 1865 in Poplar Grove.
The "Little Harry" Williams House is valued for its age, its architectural style and design, its integrity, and for its historical associations with the Williams family and the shipbuilding history of Prince Edward Island.
This Gothic Revival ell-shaped farmhouse was built circa 1865 by Robert Williams, a joiner and farmer, and his father Edward, a skilled cabinet maker and master carpenter from Appledore, England who came over with master shipwright William Ellis in 1814 to work at his shipyard in Bideford.
Robert married Bridget Ellis (a descendant of William Ellis), and their eldest son, Henry Wellington "Little Harry" Williams (1866-1934), took after his father and grandfather. He first apprenticed under George Gard of Alberton before spending two years in Boston, where he received professional training in architectural design, and married Effie Marie Ellis. They would go on to raise a family of eight.
Upon his return to the Island, "Little Harry" added his own embellishments to the family home, and became a prolific designer and builder of houses and churches in the western reaches of the province. He worked on the three churches comprising the parish of Port Hill: St. John's Church in Ellerslie; St. James in Port Hill; and St. Peter's in Lot 11, but was especially noted for his "Fox Houses". These were Colonial Revival style residences (embellished Four Square houses) largely built during a time when the lucrative silver fox industry led to the construction of sizeable and architecturally superior homes.
The "Little Harry" Williams House has survived largely intact since its construction. Aside from the tasteful embellishments made by "Little Harry" himself, including the decorative trim detailing of the eaves, window surrounds, and verandah, a concrete foundation was added under the back parts of the house circa 1950, at which time a low kitchen wing was built onto the west elevation. The verandah was added later. Around 2000, some new windows were installed in original openings.
The current owners are the fourth generation of the Williams family to occupy the house. Although an architectural style not uncommon on the Island, the level of design and architectural decorations that went into it, place it among the finest in rural architecture and one of the nicest houses in its area. As well, it is significant for its association with three different skilled builders from the same family, and for its pairing with Williams Barn, a 1 ½ storey English or "pioneer' style barn of the same age, and likewise a registered heritage place.
Heritage Places files, Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture, Charlottetown, PEI
File # : 4310-20/W10
The heritage value of the "Little Harry" Williams House is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the location of the house on its original footprint
- the overall good condition of the house
- the steep roofline of the house
- the wood clapboard cladding
- the cornerboards rising to moulded caps
- the single brackets with drop pendant trim at the corners of the house
- the fascia board under the eaves
- the dentil row under all eaves of the house
- the verandah on the front elevation, with four squared posts and inset panels on all four sides of each post
- the gingerbread trim with scrolls, incising, and a repeating theme of triple-shaped pendants in clusters of three at the centre of each opening of the verandah
- the row of saw-toothed trim above the gingerbread lace of the verandah
- the row of dentils and block trim under the verandah eave
- the large dormer asymmetrically placed above the verandah, running off the spine of the ell's roof
- the original door and window openings
- the triple bay window openings on the front (east) elevation, with sawtooth trim
- the centred window opening on the second storey front elevation, with ornate, pointed hood covers and drop sides
- the two-over-two paned, double hung window on the north elevation body of the house
- the two-over-two paned, double hung window on the south elevation