Description of Historic Place
303-305 North River Road is a two storey home that is a wing of the main house that stood on the former Warblington Estate. In the 1960s, the residence was moved to its current location on the North River Road to make way for a co-op housing development. The designation encompasses the building's exterior and parcel; it does not include the building's interior.
The heritage value of 303-305 North River Road lies in its association with the Warblington Estate and its association with various prominent Islanders.
303-305 North River Road is believed to be the only remaining structure associated with the Warblington Estate. George Richard Goodman (1761-1845) built Warblington near the North River in the 1840s. The name likely derives from Warblington in England, which was an early Saxon village. Goodman was a merchant, the Collector of Customs, the Surveyor of Shipping and a Member of the Executive and Legislative Councils. His estate was representative of the lifestyle of the wealthy that lived in the Charlottetown Royalty in the 19th Century. During this period, men of considerable means bought large tracts of land outside the City in the Royalty in order to create large estates. Their plan was to live like the country gentlemen of their native England.
A painting by artist, Fanny Amelia Bayfield (1813-1891), who had a home nearby, depicts the main house at Warblington as a Gothic Revival influenced home located on a large treed lot facing the North River. A for sale advertisement in the 2 May 1855 edition of Haszard's Gazette stated that the home included 30 acres, as well as various farm buildings, animals, a fruit orchard and gardens.
It is unclear when Warblington was sold to Frederic Newton Gisborne (1824-1892), but he was the owner when it was put up for sale in 1855. A fascinating man, Gisborne was an inventor, engineer, telegraph agent and later, a civil servant. He was in charge of laying the first submarine cable in North America on 22 November 1852. A tablet was unveiled in 1933 to commemorate this feat. The cable ran from Carleton Head, Prince Edward Island across the Northumberland Strait to Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick and it was installed with technology largely designed by Gisborne. On 20 January 1853, he sent the first telegraphic message from Prince Edward Island to New Brunswick. Gisborne would go on to lay telegraph cables in other areas of North America and was Chief Engineer in the New York, Newfoundland and London Telegraph Company, which would ultimately lay the first transatlantic submarine cable. Although Gisborne had originally approached businessman, Cyrus West Field with the idea of a transatlantic cable, he left the project within the first month for unknown reasons. After the company ran into trouble with one of their projects, Gisborne was sought out and rehired but he left again, when he found that his partners were about to cheat him out of the transatlantic cable operations.
Unfortunately in 1854, while Gisborne was still a resident of the Island, his first wife, Ellen died. She is buried in the Old Protestant Burying Ground. A creek near where Warblington once was is named Ellen's Creek after Alida Ellen Gisborne (1824-1854).
A number of owners followed Gisborne including, Thomas Scott, James Wilson, Stephen Swabey and Mrs. Wilson. By 1921, John Dickieson owned the home. Disaster struck Warblington on 2 August 1921 when the home caught fire. The 3 August 1921 edition of the local newspaper, the Guardian, reported that three fires had taken place in the City but the worst by far was the fire at Warblington. The current home at 303-305 North River Road is a wing of the residence at Warblington that was hauled from the site in 1961 to make way for a large co-op housing development and park. During the summer of 1961, at least 50 homes were constructed thereby creating an entirely new neighbourhood on the former estate.
303-305 North River Road is an asset to the North River Road streetscape because of its historic associations with the now vanished Warblington Estate and its former residents.
Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
The following character-defining elements contribute to the heritage value of Warblington:
- The overall massing of the home
- The wooden cladding with contrasting mouldings, including the window and door surrounds, as well as the corner boards
- The style and placement of the windows, particularly the tall sash windows
- The style and placement of the doors, particularly the off centre front door
- The low pitched hipped roof
- The verandah with its turned posts and balustrade
- The centrally placed chimney