Description of Historic Place
1 Churchill Avenue is a Queen Anne Revival influenced cottage constructed of wood and stone located on the corner of Churchill Avenue and North River Road. An attractive home, it was designed by renowned architect, William Critchlow Harris (1854-1913) for his nephew, Robert L. Cotton (1881-1968). The home's original address was 1 Brighton Avenue, but was later changed to 1 Churchill Avenue, when the name of the street was changed. The designation encompasses the building's exterior and parcel; it does not include the building's interior.
The heritage value of 1 Churchill Avenue lies in its association with the Cotton family; its role as a fine example of a Harris designed cottage; and its role in supporting the Churchill Avenue streetscape.
The home was designed by William Critchlow Harris and constructed in 1904 for the Cotton family. Directories show that William Lawson Cotton (1848-1928) and his wife, Margaret Ellin Harris (1854-1944) lived there for many years, although the home was originally designed for their son, Robert L. Cotton.
Although born on Prince Edward Island, William Lawson Cotton began his career in Halifax. He came back to the Island in June 1873 where he would edit and manage the Examiner newspaper. He eventually purchased the operation and turned it into the Island's first daily newspaper in 1877. In addition to this, he published the work of Prince Edward Island history named, Chapters In Our Island Story. Cotton's wife, Margaret Ellin Harris was the sister of prominent architect, William Critchlow Harris junior and well-known Canadian artist, Robert Harris (1849-1919). A one storey addition called "the family room" would later house a Harris family archives and museum from 1910 until Margaret Ellin Cotton's death in 1944.
The couple's son, Robert Cotton, for whom the house was originally designed, was a veteran of World War I, a businessman and a philanthropist. He was active in various businesses including Northumberland Ferries Limited and a tourist resort at Holland Cove that he constructed in the 1920s. Interestingly, some of the cottages from the resort are still being used as cottages today, but others were moved across the Hillsborough River to Stratford into an area known as Cotton Town. Cotton also became interested in providing families with affordable housing so he constructed a number of homes in Charlottetown and instituted a rent to own policy so that families could afford their own homes.
Cotton had a great love and a concern for the environment. He was troubled about the deterioration of the Island's forests and as a result, donated land and funds to the Province, which was to be known as the Robert Cotton Memorial Trust Fund For Rural Beautification. A nursery was opened outside of Charlottetown, in the former community of Bunbury, to supply Islanders with trees, shrubs and flowers at cost. The nursery operated for almost 50 years, but has been recently converted into a park named for Cotton. He has been called the Father of the Provincial Parks System because of his donation of large tracts of land, including Strathgartney, Selkirk and Brudenell Provincial Parks. An extraordinary and modest man; he refused awards and accolades. However, in 1967, Prince Of Wales College conferred an Honourary Doctorate of Laws degree on Cotton.
The beautiful "cottage" was typical of Harris' designs. It was influenced by the Queen Anne Revival style, a style that was somewhat subdued in Charlottetown compared with other provinces. It was a popular style in Charlottetown from approximately 1880 until 1910. Richard N. Shaw (1831-1912), a British architect, created the style that incorporated some of the classical motifs popular during Queen Anne's reign (1702-1714). Features of the style include asymmetrical massing, a variety of rooflines, porches and complex details. The home exhibits many Queen Anne Revival characteristics.
1 Churchill Avenue is a beautiful and well-kept example of Harris' work and is an asset to the streetscape.
Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
The heritage value of 1 Churchill Avenue is illustrated through the following Queen Anne Revival inspired character-defining elements:
- The massing of the building
- The asymmetrical facade
- The wood and stone construction
- The size and placement of the windows, including the grouped windows of the first and second floor, the bay window of the east side of the home and the very small window of the first floor facade
- The style and placement of the doors, particularly the off-centre placement of the front door within the umbrage
- The bargeboard drilled with lines of little holes
- The design of the stones over the ground floor windows and around the arch of the umbrage
- The size and placement of the chimneys
- The various clipped gable rooflines
Other character-defining elements of 1 Churchill Avenue include:
- The location of the home on a large lot on the corner of North River Road and Churchill Avenue