Links and documents
1889/01/01 to 1903/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Connolly Block is a three storey, brick Italianate Commercial styled building located on Queen Street, in Charlottetown’s historic business area. The building was constructed by the estate of merchant and philanthropist, Owen Connolly (1820-1887), for use as a commercial building. The designation encompasses the building’s exterior and parcel; it does not include the building’s interior.
The heritage value of the Connolly Block lies in its Italianate influenced commercial architecture, its association with Charlottetown’s business community and its importance to the Queen Street streetscape.
Owen Connolly was one of the most successful entrepreneurs of the late 1800s. His varied business interests left him a very wealthy man. He was born in Ireland in 1820 but immigrated to Prince Edward Island in 1839, where he worked for the Smallwood Family as a farm laborer. Connolly eventually bought a farm of his own and soon after, opened a country store. His businesses multiplied and diversified making him one of the most successful businessmen in Prince Edward Island. Connolly, although successful, was a somewhat retiring individual who, unlike many of his contemporaries, did not run for office and his name rarely appeared in print; therefore, it seems out of character for Connolly to have placed a bust of himself atop the Connolly Block. It is more understandable when one learns that Connolly’s estate constructed the building after his death.
The Connolly Block was constructed in 1889-1890. Prominent architect, William Critchlow Harris designed the building and well-known mason, Howard Ramsay did the brickwork. Ramsay fashioned the bust of Connolly, although sculpting was not an activity that he was known for.
The choice of the Italianate influenced commercial building style was a popular one in the late 19th Century. It was considered more durable and fireproof than the wooden structures it usually replaced. The design was also more decorative, being reminiscent of the Venetian arcades of the Renaissance period. The Connolly Block remains one of the city's best preserved examples of this style.
The Owen Connolly Estate executors were instructed to devote the remainder of Connolly’s estate “for the purpose of educating or assisting poor children, resident in Prince Edward Island, who are Irish, or the sons of Irish fathers...” The Estate was worth approximately 250 000 dollars. The Connolly Estate was involved in a number of investments including the construction and rental of buildings to provide continuing funding so that the Estate could carry on its charitable efforts. They have been very successful as the Estate still offers awards each year.
The first occupants of the building were the firm of the Messrs. E.H. Norton and Company, an insurance and auctioneering business. In 1903, newspaper reports discussed the remodeling of the building, where a portion of the second floor was added for use as a hall for the Knights of Columbus. Architect, C.B. Chappell and John Powers were responsible for the renovations. The Connolly Block housed both the Knights of Columbus and the offices of A.R MacInnis Insurance for many years. Currently, the building houses a British style pub and restaurant called The Churchill Arms.
The Owen Connolly Block is one of the most unique buildings in Charlottetown. The bust of Connolly on top of the building adds color to the City. One of the most unique buildings on Queen Street, it is a monument to the achievements of one of Charlottetown’s most successful and philanthropic citizens. The Owen Connolly Block helps to anchor the Queen Street streetscape.
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 the Connolly Block:
- The overall massing of the building with its heavy brick and multicolored stone construction
- The placement and style of the windows, including: the large plate glass windows of the storefront, the paired windows of the second floor with their lunettes, and the paired windows of the third floor with their multi-paned transom lights
- The placement and style of the doors, particularly the panelled front door of the first floor facade with its transom light, as well as the large arched opening
- The storefront with its sign band, paneling and decorative cast iron work
- The interesting details and trim of the building, including: the bust of Connolly atop the building, the decorative curved detail at the roofline and the carved Connolly Block sign, with the date the building was constructed in the centre, near the top of the facade
- The style and placement of the chimney
Other character-defining elements include:
- The location of the building on Queen Street
Prince Edward Island
City of Charlottetown
City of Charlottetown Zoning and Development Bylaw
Theme - Category and Type
- Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
- Architecture and Design
Function - Category and Type
- Commerce / Commercial Services
- Office or Office Building
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
Cross-Reference to Collection