5 West Street / Sir Louis Henry Davies' House
Links and documents
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
5 West Street is a wood framed, Second Empire style home built for Sir Louis Henry Davies (1845-1924). It has been referred to as both Riverside and Edgewater II at different points in its history because of its location on the bank of the Hillsborough River. The designation encompasses the building's exterior and parcel; it does not include the building's interior.
The heritage value of 5 West Street lies in its association with Sir Louis Henry Davies; its Second Empire influenced architecture; and its role in supporting the West Street streetscape.
5 West Street was constructed for Louis Henry Davies in 1874, two years before he would become Premier of Prince Edward Island. He had a long and illustrious career. After studying law in London, he was admitted to the English Bar in 1866 and the Prince Edward Island Bar in 1867. Davies established his practice on the Island and one of his most famous legal battles was in his role as the lead counsel for the tenantry before the Prince Edward Island Land Commission. The Commission was formed to settle land ownership issues arising from the purchase of lands from absentee landlords by the Province.
Politically active, Davies was elected Premier of Prince Edward Island in 1876 where he faced the issue of non-denominational schools. The divisive issue caused some members of political parties to split into Roman Catholic and Protestant coalitions without regard to political party lines. Davies led the Protestant coalition, which had formed to pass the Free School Bill. After the bill was passed, members of the Legislative Assembly began to return to their traditional parties and the Conservative party defeated Davies' coalition in 1878. He was soon elected to the House of Commons in 1882, where he would remain until 1901 when he was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada. In 1918, he was appointed Chief Justice of Canada where he would remain until his death in 1924. Davies was the first Island born member of the Supreme Court of Canada and among his various honours, he was created a Knight Commander of St. Michael and St. George by Queen Victoria during her 1897 Diamond Jubilee year.
Davies remained a resident of 5 West Street for at least part of every year until his death in 1924. The home is Second Empire influenced in its style. The style is readily identified through its Mansard roof, which was named after François Mansart (1598-1666), and popularized by his son, Jules Hardoin Mansart, an architect who worked for France's King Louis XIV around 1700. The Mansard roof is almost flat on the top section and has deeply sloping, often curved, lower sections that generally contain dormers. The Second Empire referred to in the style is that of Napoleon III (1852-1870). The style reached Canada through Britain and the United States and was used extensively throughout Charlottetown from approximately 1860 until 1880.
The house today is generally well preserved with some modifications. The roof originally included round headed dormers, but these have been replaced in favour of shed dormers. The main door was originally on the south side of the home, but has been moved to face West street where the kitchen wing once was.
Located among a number of large old homes on West Street; the elaborate home helps support the streetscape.
Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
The following Second Empire influenced character-defining elements illustrate the heritage value of 5 West Street:
- The massing of the home
- The Mansard roof with heavy bracketing at the eaves
- The tall windows, particularly the round headed windows and the stacked bay windows
- The large projection of the east side of the home with its gable roof and eave returns
- The size and placement of the doors, particularly the door of the east side with its large door surround
- The verandah of the east side, with its columns and attractive mouldings
- The balconies of the east and west sides of the home
- The decorative mouldings surrounding the windows and doors
Other character-defining elements of 5 West Street include:
- The location of the home on West Street
- The home's treed lot on the bank of the Hillsborough River
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
- Governing Canada
- Government and Institutions
Function - Category and Type
- Multiple Dwelling
- 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