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Prince County Courthouse

108 Central Street, Summerside, Prince Edward Island, C1N, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2004/12/20

Showing east and north elevations; MacNaught History Centre and Archives, Natalie Griffith, 2005
Prince County Courthouse
Showing artist rendering of courthouse in 1904; MacNaught History Centre and Archives, John Gothard Baker Collection, 1904
Prince County Courthouse
Showing the buildings to its north and west that its bulk shielded from the flames; MacNaught History Centre and Archives, Peter Pope Collection, 13.003
Prince County Courthouse after Great Fire of 1906

Other Name(s)

Prince County Courthouse
Summerside Law Courts

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/03/21

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Prince County Court House dominates the intersection of Central and Notre Dame Streets in Summerside, PEI. This Italianate building with some modernization is built of brick with freestone accents and continues to serve its original purpose. The designation includes the building and its surrounding property.

Heritage Value

The construction of the new court house in Summerside in 1873-76 was the tangible evidence of the town’s replacing nearby St. Eleanors as the seat of justice and the capital of Prince County. The move recognised and symbolised Summerside’s increasing prosperity and importance as a regional service centre and established its dominance over the surrounding communities.

The land was purchased from the estate of Joseph Green, the son of a Loyalist settler who had been granted much of the land where Summerside now stands. The new court house was first presided over by Judge William Henry Pope, a Father of Confederation.

The Prince County Court House, or Summerside Law Courts, is also significant for the role it played in the Fire of 1906, which levelled 155 buildings in the town. This substantial brick structure shielded the wooden buildings behind it and effectively checked the fire, although it itself was completely gutted. The court house was rebuilt and became a testimony to the resiliency of the community.

The building is also significant because it displays the craftsmanship of many local and provincial tradespeople. Designed by Island architect John Corbett, it was constructed by Thomas Beattie, who also built the Indian Head lighthouse, another significant Summerside structure. D.R. Morrison and Peter G. Clark, both prominent local contractors of the time, oversaw the 1907 reconstruction. The 1938 expansion, including the addition of a third storey, some changes to the external appearance of the building and the remodelling of the interior, was conducted by M.F. Schurman Co. Ltd., one of the oldest and largest contracting firms on the Island.

One of the earliest images of the court house is a 1904 pencil and ink drawing by Summerside artist John Gothard Baker. The court house is a rare example of Italianate architecture in the western half of the Province. It is also one of the oldest public buildings in Summerside.

Source: City of Summerside Heritage Property Profile

Character-Defining Elements

The heritage value of the Prince County Courthouse is shown in the following character defining elements:

- Continued use as court house and jail
- Characteristics of Italianate style, including:
- The shape of the building
- Its low-pitch roof (original roof was a mansard roof with a decorative iron railing)
- The remaining roman arched window wells
- The symmetrical arrangement of the windows
- Historic modifications, including:
- Fourth storey dormer added in 1907
- 1907 roofline (the cupola was removed sometime after 1938)
- Front entrance designed and added in 1938
- The third storey added in 1938
- The keystones that bear the dates of the building’s construction (1876), reconstruction (1907) and renovation (1938), which are located above the main door and the two windows flanking the door



Prince Edward Island

Recognition Authority

City of Summerside

Recognition Statute

Heritage Conservation Bylaw SS-20

Recognition Type

Designated Heritage Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1906/01/01 to 1906/01/01
1938/01/01 to 1938/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Governing Canada
Security and Law

Function - Category and Type



Courthouse and/or Registry Office

Architect / Designer

John Corbett


Thomas Beattie

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

MacNaught History Centre and Archives, Wyatt Heritage Properties, P.O. Box 1510, Summerside, PE C1N 4K4

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places

Summerside Law Courts

Summerside Law Courts

The Summerside Law Courts building is a 3 storey red brick Italianate style structure located on landscaped grounds punctuated with large trees in the City of Summerside, PEI.


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