Description of Historic Place
The William Richards house is an elegant, well-preserved two storey wood framed Georgian style home. Located on the Mackie Road in Ellerslie-Bideford, the home overlooks the Bideford or Goodwood River, which was once a very prosperous shipbuilding area.
The William Richards House is valued for its association with the shipbuilding history of Prince Edward Island, its excellent architecture and its association with the Richards family. In 1854, Captain William Richards (1819-1914) sea captain, shipbuilder, businessman, and politician, took ownership of the Bideford Shipyard, which was founded by William Ellis. The Richards House was constructed in 1864, likely by the Ellis family who worked at the Richards shipyards. The house was home to William Richards, his wife, Susannah (Yeo), and their three children, James, John and Isabel. The Yeo family was also deeply involved in the shipbuilding enterprise in the area.
Richards was a prolific and innovative builder, who adapted his vessels to new trends, and exported large amounts of produce to Europe. During the period 1866 to 1892, Richards had 94 vessels built on P.E.I, 40 of which were built at the Bideford Shipyard.
Richards was a Conservative politician in the 1870s, who promoted the construction of the PEI Railway, while maintaining his shipbuilding interests. For many years, his company shipped the largest volume of oats from Prince Edward Island to Great Britain and Europe, the majority of it in his own vessels. Richards was also president and part owner of the Charlottetown Steam Navigation Company.
William Richards's eldest son, James, entered business with his father after studying at St. Dunstan's College in Charlottetown and in Saint John, New Brunswick. James was also very prominent in local and federal politics, serving for 33 years in the PEI Legislature and in Ottawa in the House of Commons.
John Richards, William's second son, was also involved in the shipbuilding industry with his father and brother, and took a special interest in agriculture as well as local politics. John Richards resided in this house during his time in political office, and in 1914 he served as leader of the PEI Liberal party. Following his death in 1917, the estate was sold outside the Richards family.
Today, the William Richards house is in excellent condition. Its current owners have undertaken renovations to restore the home to its original appearance as depicted in the 1880 Meacham's Atlas, for which they were awarded with a PEI Museum and Heritage Foundation Heritage Award. The Richards house continues to be an important landmark in its community.
Source: Heritage Places files, Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
File # : 4310-20/W9
Character-defining elements which reflect the Georgian style of the home include:
- the symmetrical tall massing of the building
- the symmetrical front façade
- the wood shingle cladding
- the steeply pitched, gabled roof clad with cedar shingles
- the shingled walls defined with corner boards and cornice boards
- the style and symmetrical placement of the windows, with six over six panes
- the wooden shingle cladding with door and window mouldings painted in a contrasting color
- the size, shape, and placement of the chimneys
- the wrap around verandah
- the front door with sidelights and transom light
Other character-defining elements of the William Richards House include:
- the location of the house facing towards the former Bideford Shipyard, known as a sea captain's orientation
- the Carriage House located on the property