178 Water Street
Canadian National Railway brass house
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Canadian National Railway brass house is located at 178 Water Street near the Charlottetown waterfront. It is one of only two railway buildings left on a block that was almost entirely dominated by the railway and industry. The building was renovated and for a period of time served as a provincial Visitor Information Centre in Charlottetown. This is now located in the Founder's Hall building nearby. The designation encompasses the building's exterior and parcel; it does not include the building's interior.
The historic value of the CNR brass house lies in its association with the railway on Prince Edward Island and its architectural detailing.
Built in 1876, the small sandstone building served as the office of the mechanical branch of the Prince Edward Island Railway and later became what is known as the brass house. The railway played an integral role in the transportation needs of Islanders throughout the 19th and a large portion of the 20th century. It was also one of the largest employers on the Island. However, due to declining passenger traffic in the 1960s, the railway passenger service ceased, with only the freight service remaining. The railway's freight service was finally terminated on 31 December 1989. Soon after, all railway tracks were removed and the land was turned over to the Province. The rail beds were eventually converted to a large trail system running throughout the entire Province known as the Confederation Trail.
The Island sandstone building is a small, simple building with good detailing. Examples of this detailing are the sculpted rope design above the date stone, the roundel window and the arched trim around the windows. The building's façade is symmetrical with two large windows on either side of a centrally placed door with a four paned transom light.
Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
The following character-defining elements illustrate the heritage value of the CNR brass house:
- The location of the building in the former rail yard
- The Island sandstone materials used to construct the building's exterior
- The stone detailing, including the sculpted rope design above the date stone and the trim around the windows and doors
- The window placement, including the roundel window
- The placement of the doors, including the door on the north side with its transom light
- The pitch of the roof with its raised parapet gable ends
- The overall symmetry of the facade
Prince Edward Island
City of Charlottetown
City of Charlottetown Zoning and Development Bylaw
Theme - Category and Type
- Developing Economies
- Communications and Transportation
Function - Category and Type
- Office or office building
- Station or Other Rail Facility
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2 File #: 1261
Cross-Reference to Collection