Description of Historic Place
144-150 Richmond Street is located in the eastern two sections of the Cameron Block, which is a large Italianate influenced, stone and brick commercial building. The Cameron Block is located on what is known as "Victoria Row", a row of Victorian buildings in a historically commercial section of Richmond Street. The area now features outdoor cafes, gift shops and craft shops. The designation encompasses the building’s exterior and parcel; it does not include the building’s interior.
The heritage value of 144-150 Richmond Street lies in its Italianate architecture, its association with the Cameron Family and its position within the Cameron Block, which is part of Victoria Row, a tangible reminder of the commercial heritage of Charlottetown.
The Ewen Cameron Family owned and resided at the property for many years before the present building was constructed. Ewen Cameron, a Member of the House of Assembly, merchant and teacher, owned the property until he died by drowning in 1831. The property then passed to his wife, Jane, and eventually their three girls: Margaret Cameron, Catherine Davies, and Hannah Haszard.
Hannah’s son, Horace Haszard, was appointed to act on the sisters’ behalf, after the building, and many of the buildings around it, were destroyed by fire in 1884. Haszard commissioned prominent architect, William Critchlow Harris to design the building and hired the Lowe Bros. to build it. The large, impressive structure offered space for stores, offices, and a public hall that were ready for occupancy on 1 February 1885. The Cameron Block was the first building among its neighbours to be built after the fire of 1884.
The choice of the Italianate influenced commercial building style was a popular one in the 1880s. It was considered more durable and fireproof than the wooden structures it invariably replaced. The design was also more decorative, being reminiscent of the Venetian arcades of the Renaissance period. The Cameron Block remains one of the City's well preserved examples of this style.
The Cameron Block housed a variety of tenants throughout the years, including many merchants, lawyers, shopkeepers, and insurance agents. Among the many tenants of the 144-150 Richmond Street section of the Cameron Block were the Reddin Drug Store, William H. Scott’s Barbershop, Miss Roper, a dressmaker and Horace Haszard, who operated his insurance business from the building. The law profession was well represented on the second floor, which played host to the offices of Warburton and Conroy, R.R. Fitzgerald, Peters and Peters, Bell & Mathieson and F.L. Haszard. The top floor housed Mitchell Bros., a print shop that was bought out by the Patriot Publishing Company in 1920. The space later housed the lodge rooms of the Loyal Orange Association.
Despite various fires, including one that gutted part of the Cameron Block in 1938, the buildings have survived so that we are left with a lovely well preserved, stretch of Victorian buildings, fittingly referred to as "Victoria Row".
The area has been traditionally commercial in nature, however in recent years it has been open to pedestrian traffic in the summer months and features many shops and restaurants with outdoor patios and live music. The row of heritage buildings is a nice contrast to the modern Confederation Centre of the Arts complex directly across the street. The Cameron Block is a vital component of Victoria Row, which is a monument to Charlottetown’s commercial past and one of the most important, well-preserved historic areas in Charlottetown.
Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
The following Italianate-commercial character-defining elements illustrate the heritage value of 144-150 Richmond Street:
- The overall massing and construction of the building
- The style and placement of the brick and stone throughout the facade, including the various decorative mouldings and decorative detailing, the corbelled brick cornices, the pediments near the roof of the building and the medallions, with floral decoration, that sit just below the cornice in each section
- The placement and style of the windows, including the large plate glass storefront windows with transom lights, the paired arched windows of the second floor and the paired windows of the third floor
- The placement and style of the doors, particularly the recessed front doors of the first floor facade
- The two storefronts with their sign bands, large plate glass windows and recessed doors with transom lights
- The cast iron work of the facade
- The sign and the date the building was constructed, in the frieze near the top of the facade
Other character-defining elements of 144-150 Richmond Street are:
- The 144-150 Richmond Street sections overall similarity to the western section of the Cameron Block
- The location of the building on Victoria Row