Description of Historic Place
The Goff House is a well preserved 1841 wood framed house with Gothic Revival influences. It is situated on spacious grounds on an elevation of land in the rural community of Woodville Mills near Cardigan, PEI. Towering elm, linden, and red oak trees and a rare stone herringbone fence are prominent features on the property. The designation includes the footprint of the building.
The heritage value of the Goff House comes from its association with the Goff family and its Gothic Revival architectural elements. The house was once the centre of a 755 acre estate owned by John Goff (1814-1892), a prominent businessman and politician in 19th Century Prince Edward Island.
His father, Fade Goff (1780-1836), was of Anglo-Irish background and had emigrated to the Island via Newfoundland from County Wexford, Ireland, in 1810. In PEI, he worked as a land agent for several proprietors, attempting to find capable tenants for their lots. While some of these land agent "middlemen" made personal fortunes in this role, Fade Goff did not use his position to extract funds or labour from struggling settlers. Indeed, despite his support for the proprietorial land system, he did not amass wealth and struggled to support his own eleven children.
John Goff, the eldest, built upon his father's achievements. After receiving his education at Charlottetown's Brown School, in 1836 he moved to the Launching area of PEI to manage his father's land there. By 1840, he built saw and grist mills in an area which would come to be "Woodville Mills." The following year, he constructed the current house.
John Goff was also active in local politics, being elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1860. He also served as high sheriff of King's County, member of the board of education, and member of the roads commission. The house remained in the Goff family until 1955. Over the years, it has variously been known as the "Woodlands" because of its beautiful treed surroundings; and "Cromwell" perhaps in deference to Oliver Cromwell, himself. One account suggests an ancestor of the family, General William Goff, represented England's Hampshire County in the 1641 Parliament and even added his signature to King Charles I's death warrant in 1649!
Its owners in the 1970s worked to restore many of the home's Gothic Revival details, including: the decorative bargeboards, roof finials, pedimented dormer windows, and bay windows. Today, the house is a designated provincial heritage place.
Source: PEI Heritage Advisory Committee Files
The Gothic Revival influenced character-defining elements of the house include:
- the sandstone foundation
- the clean and balanced massing of the building with its wooden shingle cladding
- the minimal ornamentation
- the gabled roofs with eave returns and pedimented dormer windows
- the finials at the roof peaks and above the pedimented dormers
- the narrow scrolled bargeboards
- the large nine over six windows of the first floor
- the smaller six over six windows of the second floor
- the bay windows
- the pointed arch windows in the upper gables
- the size and placement of the chimneys
Other character-defining elements include:
- the location of the house on a large treed lot
- the rare stone herringbone fence on the property