Description of Historic Place
8-10 Water Street is a wood framed, Georgian influenced home built in the 1860s. The building overlooks the Charlottetown harbour and is in an area with a high concentration of large heritage homes. It was the residence of the prominent Davies Family for many years, however it has since been converted into an apartment building. The designation encompasses the building's exterior and parcel; it does not include the building's interior.
The heritage value 8-10 Water Street lies in its association with the Benjamin Davies' family; its Georgian influenced architecture; and its role in supporting the streetscape.
Benjamin Davies (1813-1904) was a successful commission merchant, Member of the Legislature, City Councilor and holder of various Government Offices. He built the home at 8-10 Water Street in the 1860s and he and his family would remain residents until 1903. The 17 March 1903 edition of the Examiner carried a "for sale" notice for the home and the one next door at 12-14 Water Street. Both homes had exclusive rights to the water lots in front of them, which stretched out to the channel in the Hillsborough River.
Davies was a ship merchant and owned B. Davies & Company. He also operated shipyards in the Island communities of Orwell and Rollo Bay. He was politically active and was successfully elected to the House of Assembly in the general elections of 1850, 1867, 1870, 1872 and 1873 where he also served in the Executive Council. He was unsuccessful in the election of 1855, however, he was elected to the new Charlottetown City Council that year following its incorporation. Interestingly, he and his son, Louis Henry Davies served in the House together from 1872 until 1875. Not only politically active, Davies was appointed to a number of prominent offices including Colonial Secretary, Postmaster General, Justice of the Peace, Chairman of the Railway Board, Paymaster of the Railway and Fire Commissioner.
His son, Sir Louis Henry Davies (1845-1928), had a long and illustrious career. After studying Law in London, England, Davies established his practice on Prince Edward Island. 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 later served as a Member of Parliament in 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.
8-10 Water Street is a Georgian inspired home with a wonderful view of the Charlottetown Harbour. Its rounded Scottish style dormers on both the front and the back add interest to the home. A photograph taken in 1893 does not show the second rounded dormer on the north facade of the home. Although the home has been converted for use as an apartment building, its exterior has not changed greatly since the 1890s. In an area with a number of large heritage homes, 8-10 Water Street helps support the Water Street streetscape.
Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
The following Georgian influenced character-defining elements contribute to the heritage value of 8-10 Water Street:
- The overall massing of the building
- The simple contrasting mouldings including the window surrounds and shutters
- The gable roofline
- The Scottish dormers
- The size and placement of the windows, particularly the four large sash windows of the north facade, the Scottish dormer windows, and the porch windows
- The size and placement of the doors at both the western and eastern sides of the building with the eastern door having a transom light above
- The size, shape and placement of the porches and additions
- The size, shape and placement of the chimneys
Other character-defining elements include:
- The location of the home on Water Street with its view of the Charlottetown Harbour