Description of Historic Place
The Peake-Carvell Building is a three storey, brick, Early Commercial style building located on the corner of Queen Street and Water Street, in Charlottetown’s historic commercial area. James Ellis Peake (1797-1860) built the building in 1856 to replace a wooden building that had been on the site. It is located close to the once bustling wharves where merchants shipped their goods to destinations throughout the world. The Carvell Building is part of the Harbourside Complex, a group of residential and commercial properties. The designation encompasses the building’s exterior and parcel; it does not include the building’s interior.
The heritage value of the Peake-Carvell Building lies in its association with merchant, James Ellis Peake, its association with the Carvell Brothers' firm, its Early Commercial style architecture, and its importance to the Queen Street and Water Street streetscapes.
James Ellis Peake had the large, brick, Early Commercial style building constructed in 1856, to replace a wood framed building, originally on the site. Peake came to Prince Edward Island from Plymouth, England in 1823 and quickly became a successful politician, shipbuilder, ship owner and merchant, perhaps operating in cooperation with the family business, Peake and Sons, of Plymouth. Interestingly, the building is located just down the street from the Peake Family home and close to where the Peake No.1 wharf once existed.
The Peake-Carvell building was divided into three sections or apartments. Two of the apartments housed businesses owned by merchants, George Fish Crowe Lowden and Samuel A. Fowle & Company. Lowden was a tobacco and flour merchant while Fowle sold a variety of items including rope, leather, tobacco and molasses. By 1862, these merchants were replaced by the Carvell Brothers, another merchant company, who now occupied two thirds of the building. The third apartment housed the Bank of Prince Edward Island, the Island’s only bank at the time. The bank would later move to its new quarters, a brick building on the corner of Great George and King Streets in 1868. James E. Peake was a member of the Board of Directors of the Bank of PEI.
The empty space left by the bank was soon assumed by the Carvell Brothers' firm, making them the sole tenant of the large building. The Carvell Brothers were a produce wholesale company begun by Mayor of Charlottetown and later, Senator and Lieutenant Governor, Jedediah Slason Carvell (1832-1894) and his brothers, Jacob and Lewis. The firm exported primarily oats to England, but also acted as shipping agents, merchants and auctioneers. The Examiner newspaper of 14 September 1912 reported that the Carvell Brothers had purchased the building from the Peake estate. The firm operated from the site until 1976, when the building was bought by the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation and sympathetically restored. The building now houses a variety of tenants including the Merchantman Pub and various offices.
The Early Commercial style dates from before the 1860s. It was often characterized by a groundfloor reserved for storefronts, double hung windows in the upper levels, simple mouldings, and a balanced facade of either shingles, clapboards, or brick. The Carvell Building is an excellent example of this style in the City.
The Peake-Carvell building, with its location in a historic section of Queen Street near the wharves from which local merchants imported and exported their goods is a tangible reminder of the importance of the age of sail in 19th Century Prince Edward Island and the economic prosperity it brought the City of Charlottetown. As one of many heritage buildings in the area, the Carvell Building contributes to the Queen Street and Water Street streetscapes.
Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
The following Early Commercial character-defining elements illustrate the heritage value of the Peake-Carvell Building:
- The overall massing of the building with its symmetrical facade
- The size and shape of the brick construction
- The placement and style of the windows, including the large six over six windows of the first, second and third floors with their stone lintels and sills
- The style and placement of the paneled doors with their transom lights
- The first floor recessed storefronts with large sign band extending the length of the building’s façade
- The stone quoining on the sides of the building
- The gabled slate roof, with its raised parapet gable ends
- The style and placement of the chimneys
Other character-defining elements include:
- The location of the building on the corner of Queen Street and Water Street