Description of Historic Place
The Jones House in Pownal is a 2 ½ storey, wood frame dwelling built on a Georgian centre-hall plan employing a banked, or Pennsylvania style of construction, and dates from around 1850.
The Jones House is valued for its age, its architectural importance, its construction methods, its historical associations, and for its importance to the community of Pownal, Prince Edward Island.
This 2 ½ storey house was designed and partially built by Robert Jones (1778-1859) circa 1850 for his eldest son William (1804-1880) and daughter-in-law Mary Gay (1806-1886). A rarity in the Island's architectural landscape, it was built into the side of a hill in a "banked" or "Pennsylvania style" of construction.
Robert Jones was born in Paisley, Scotland, and came to the Island in 1809 following service in the Royal Navy and seven years of studying drafting and cabinetmaking in England. He first worked in a merchandising and shipping business in Charlottetown as a bookkeeper, builder, lumber surveyor, and joiner. For a short time, he served as the manager of a mill in Pinette on behalf of Lord Selkirk, but became disenchanted with the venture and relocated to Pownal in 1816, where he built himself a log cabin and took up farming. He had been joined by his wife, Hannah Simpson, in 1811 (they were married in 1803), along with four of his children. Four more would be born here, and their descendants are numerous, among which can be found John Walter Jones (1878-1954), Premier of Prince Edward Island from 1943 to 1953.
Following his move to Pownal, Jones became involved in a wide array of public services: militia captain, highway commissioner, fence viewer, and constable; however, he is most remembered for his architectural projects. He was tasked with designing and building St. John's Presbyterian Church in Belfast in the early 1820s, and was also commissioned to write reports on the construction of both Government House and Central Academy in Charlottetown. He is also known to have designed and built a number of houses in addition to this one.
There have been a number of modifications made to the Jones House since its construction. Sometime prior to 1900, centred roof dormers were built onto the front and back elevations. In the 1930s, new windows were installed on the first storey, the front door was centred, and a balcony and porch were built around it. In addition, the stone foundation was replaced with concrete, and a lower, shed-roofed addition was built onto the east elevation. Around 1999, a new bathroom window (north elevation) and north dormer window were installed, the verandah posts were replaced (the gingerbread detailing dates from the 1930s), and some of the wood clapboard on the front and east elevations was replaced following a damaging flue fire. A new chimney was also built at this time.
The Jones House has been passed down through six generations and remains in the Jones family today. It is significant not only for its unusual architectural elements, but also as a legacy of Robert Jones' skill as an architect and builder, and his contributions to the architectural landscape of Prince Edward Island.
Heritage Places files, Department of Education, Early Learning & Culture, Charlottetown, PEI
File #: 4310-20/J5
The heritage value of the Jones House is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the overall massing of the house
- the location of the house on its original footprint
- the steep roofline
- the hand-carved wooden pegs holding the roofline together
- the use of hand-hewn squared timbers in the construction of the house
- the hand-squared beams mortised into sills
- the joints marked with roman numerals
- the angle braces at each corner, mortised into the corner post and cross beam
- the medium-sized eaves
- the cornerboards
- the placement of the house, stepped into a hill in a "banked" or "Pennsylvania style"
- the four bay front (south) elevation
- the large, centred dormer on the front elevation (predates 1900)
- the six-over-six paned sash window in the front elevation dormer (dates from 1930s)
- the cornerboards and finished edge moulding on the front elevation dormer
- the centred roof dormer on the back (north) elevation (predates 1900)
- the four six-over-six sash windows on the second storey front elevation
- the six-over-six paned windows on the second storey west elevation
- the original window openings on the second and third storey east elevation
- the wood clapboard in the upper areas of the west elevation
- the original, hand-made door on the back elevation, leading into the second storey of the house
- the cellar entry on west side of the back elevation
- the overall good condition of the house