Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Shipwright Inn at 49-51 Fitzroy Street is a Maritime Vernacular Cottage style bed and breakfast. It was constructed in approximately 1865 as a residence for local shipbuilder, James Phillips Douse (1830-1900). The building is situated side on to the street thus facing west. It was likely built that way to take advantage of the water view which existed before there was development to the west. The designation encompasses the building’s exterior and parcel; it does not include the building’s interior.
The heritage value of 49-51 Fitzroy Street lies in its association with various prominent Charlottetown citizens; its Maritime Vernacular Cottage style architecture; and its importance to the Fitzroy Street streetscape.
James Phillips Douse was a shipbuilder who was part of the firm of William Douse & Sons. His father, William Douse (1800-1864) was a successful shipbuilder, land agent, and politician. James Phillips Douse and his wife, Maria Susanna Matilda Fanning Nelson, lived in the home next door, while their new home at 49-51 Fitzroy Street was being constructed in 1865. Nelson was the daughter of merchant, shipbuilder and politician, Samuel Nelson Esq.
The Shipwright Inn is a fine and well maintained example of a Maritime Vernacular Cottage in Charlottetown. The Maritime Vernacular Cottage style was a common architectural style in mid 1800s Charlottetown. A distinctive Maritime style, its features include a rectangular plan, a central doorway and a large centrally placed dormer breaking the front eave line.
The home was renovated in the 1990s, when a completely new addition, including a very similar Maritime Vernacular Cottage style building, was built on to the northern section of the original house. According to a carpenter who worked on the renovation, the original 1865 home was very well built, probably with lumber from the Douse’s shipyards in the balloon beam fashion. When the clapboard siding was removed, huge boards were uncovered including a board 1 1/8" thick by 20" wide.
Douse lived at 49-51 Fitzroy Street for ten years and then sold it to merchant and shipbroker, John Ferguson Robertson (1841-1905). Robertson, in his early career, was a clerk for Duncan Mason and Company but later worked as a partner and manager for the firm of James Duncan and Company. When James Duncan suspended operations, Ferguson began his own ship brokering business in Charlottetown. In addition to his mercantile pursuits, Robertson was also politically active. He was a Member of the House of Assembly and the Executive Council. He also served as Auditor during Premier George Coles’ term in office.
Robertson lived in the home for a time but later sold it to Charles Lyons (1853-1918), a coal dealer and Mayor of Charlottetown from 1912-1914. He lived in the home for over twenty years, eventually selling it to World War I veteran, lawyer and politician, Hugh Francis MacPhee (1895-1957).
Later owners have renovated the home and converted it into a five star bed and breakfast with a shipbuilding theme that pays homage to the building’s association with the Island’s shipbuilding past. The Shipwright Inn is filled with antiques including a huge antique cabinet that is original to the home.
In an area with a great number of beautiful heritage homes, 49-51 Fitzroy Street is a well preserved example of the Maritime Vernacular Cottage style and plays an important role in maintaining the heritage ambiance of the Fitzroy Street streetscape.
Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
The following Maritime Vernacular Cottage influenced character-defining elements illustrate the heritage value of the Shipwright Inn’s original 1865 section:
- The rectangular plan
- The symmetry of the facade
- The wooden clapboard siding with its simple contrasting trim
- The size and placement of the large grouped windows
- The style and central placement of the door, particularly the paneled front door with its transom light and side lights
- The centrally placed, large gable dormer with its grouped window
- The shed dormer on the back of the building
- The gable roof with eave returns
- The size and placement of the chimneys
Other character-defining elements of the Shipwright Inn include:
- The verandah on the front of the 1865 home, which was a later addition, but adds to the attractiveness of the building
- The new 1990s section that has been built on to the north of the 1865 building including:
- The middle section that links the two Maritime Vernacular Cottage style homes with its balcony and grouped windows
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
- Hotel, Motel or Inn
- Single Dwelling
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
Cross-Reference to Collection