Links and documents
1835/01/01 to 1836/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
50 Water Street is a two storey, brick, Georgian influenced former residence that has been converted into office space. Successful businessman and politician, James Ellis Peake (1797-1860) built the residence in 1835 and lived in the home with his family for many years. The building was converted to office space in the 1970s and now houses law offices. The designation encompasses the building’s exterior and parcel; it does not include the building’s interior.
The heritage value of 50 Water Street lies in its Georgina influenced architecture, its association with the James Peake Family, and its importance to the Water Street streetscape.
James Ellis Peake had the large, brick home constructed in 1835 and 1836. He came to Prince Edward Island from Plymouth, England in 1823 and quickly became a very successful banker, shipbuilder, ship owner and merchant, perhaps operating in cooperation with the family business, Peake and Sons, of Plymouth. Peake had his home constructed close to his warehouses and wharves where his ships docked. The Georgian house is one of the earliest in the City and is notable for its symmetrical and balanced facade, prominent corner chimneys, and solid brick construction.
Shortly after building his home, he married Barbara Leila Alice Brecken (1807-1870), who was a member of the Island’s social elite. The pair had a family of six. Unfortunately, due to Peake’s arthritis, the family returned to Plymouth in 1856 in search of a cure. Peake’s condition worsened and he died in England in 1860.
The Peake Family stayed in England for a time but would eventually make their way back to the Island and 50 Water Street. When they left for England, they auctioned off their furniture, but did not sell their home. A prominent relative of the family, Thomas Heath Haviland, stayed in the home while they were out of the country. All of the Peake Family, except one child, came back to the Island, including Peake’s sons, who would follow their father’s career path. The Peakes’ oldest son, James Peake (1842-1895) and his wife Edith Haviland (1847-1931) lived in the home until 1875, when they decided to move to the more fashionable, west end of Charlottetown. The residence was also home to James Ellis Peake’s youngest daughter, Fanny (Peake) Leigh (1846-1910) and her husband, Commodore Charles Leigh (1838-1902), who would eventually sell the home to Henry Douse.
In the 1970s, the Charlottetown Area Development Corporation acquired the former home and converted it to office space. After the conversion, the Prince Edward Island Institute of Man and Resources moved in to 50 Water Street and remained for a time. The building currently houses law offices.
50 Water Street calls to mind some of the most prominent citizens of Charlottetown who made fortunes during the heyday of the shipbuilding era on Prince Edward Island. A handsome former home located in a historic area near the waterfront where the Peake family built their business, 50 Water Street is an important part of the Water Street streetscape.
Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
The following Georgian inspired character-defining elements illustrate the heritage value of 50 Water Street:
- The overall massing of the building and symmetrical facade
- The size and shape of the Island brick construction
- The symmetrical placement and style of the windows with their stone lintels and sills
- The centrally placed paneled door with its transom light above
- The gabled roof, with centrally placed rounded dormer. The dormer was a later addition but adds to the attractiveness of the building.
- The placement of the large chimneys on either side of the building
Other character-defining elements include:
- The location of the building on the corner of Water 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