Description of Historic Place
Sidmount is a wood framed, Gothic Revival home situated on a large treed lot. The home was once part of a large estate, however this has been reduced in size and is currently surrounded by mid-20th Century homes. The area has grown around the old estate and this is reflected in the fact that Sidmount does not face the street, but is situated with the back of the home facing the street. The designation encompasses the building's exterior and parcel; it does not include the building's interior.
The heritage value of Sidmount lies in its association with Judge James Horsefield Peters and his family; its unique Gothic Revival influenced architecture; and its role as a part of the former Sidmount Estate.
Sidney Dealey built Sidmount in approximately 1845. The home was advertised for sale at public auction in the 4 April 1846 edition of the Islander newspaper. The forty-one acre estate featured "a much ornamented cottage, newly erected of wood, by a skillful artisan, in imitation of the Gothic style of architecture." Forty-three feet by thirty-four feet, this "cottage" featured a frost-proof cellar, a ground floor with dining room, drawing room, hall, store room and office and a second floor with two bedrooms, a dressing room, bath and library. An addition to the rear of the building contained a large kitchen, laundry and servants' bedroom accessible by the back stairs of the main building.
Sidmount was purchased by Judge James Horsefield Peters (1811-1891) and his wife, Mary Cunard (1817-1865). Cunard was the daughter of Sir Samuel Cunard (1787-1865), the founder of the Cunard Steamship Line. The Cunard family owned large tracts of land on Prince Edward Island and Peters acted as land agent for the family. Peters was also a lawyer who would later be appointed to a judgeship. Judge Peters would build a large house on the southwest corner of the Sidmount Estate for his son, Premier Arthur Peters (1854-1908). The house still exists today as the Elmwood Heritage Inn.
After Judge Peters passed away, another son, Frederick Peters (1851-1919) lived at Sidmount for a time. Frederick was also a lawyer who had been educated in Charlottetown and England. He, too, would become involved politically and like his brother, Arthur, became Premier of Prince Edward Island from 1891 until 1897. In 1897, he moved to British Columbia where he set up his law practice with Charles H. Tupper. During Frederick Peters' time at Sidmount, he had updated the home with "modern conveniences".
The property has had a number of owners throughout the years. The 11 July 1902 edition of the Daily Examiner reported that owner, Mark Wright was in the process of improving the property. The home was offered for sale in 1916 by P.W. Turner of O'Leary Station. The ad made note of the fact that the home featured electric lighting and a hot water system that had been installed three years before. Donald MacKinnon and the Armstrong family were later owners of the home.
Sidmount was influenced by the Gothic Revival architectural style. Wood framed houses in this style were decorated with lacy trim and scrolled ornamentation. Architects, such as A.J. Downing, popularized the Gothic Revival movement through their pattern books. The style is seen most often in rural areas, but a few exist in Charlottetown.
The facade of the house is symmetrical with a central pedimented portico entrance. The paired windows of the ground floor have a cinquefoil design which is purely Gothic. The second floor features a bay window above the portico and two over two windows set into a series of wall dormers. These wall dormers and the gable roofs once had finials, but these are no longer present. The main entrance door is flanked by sidelights. The wing on the west side of the house was originally used by Judge Peters as his study.
As a well preserved example of the Gothic Revival style in the City, Sidmount has changed very little since its construction, and remains an important link to the history of Charlottetown.
Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
The following Gothic Revival influenced character-defining elements contribute to the heritage value of Sidmount:
- The overall massing of the wood framed building with its shingle cladding
- The mouldings highlighted with a contrasting colour, particularly the decorative bargeboard, and the window and door surrounds
- The steep gable rooflines
- The size and placement of the tall windows, particularly the bay window, the wall dormer windows of the second floor and the paired Gothic cinquefoil windows of the first floor
- The size and placement of the doors, particularly the front door with its two sidelights
- The size and shape of the portico over the front door with its decorative pediment and columns
- The size and shape of the balcony on the eastern side of the home
- The style and placement of the chimneys
Other character-defining elements of Sidmount include:
- The original position of the home facing away from McGill Avenue
- The beautiful treed lot