Description of Historic Place
119-121 Grafton Street is a wood framed two storey building which once contained a combined residence and shop. The building remains entirely commercial today as part of the Confederation Court Mall complex that dominates what is known locally as the Dizzy Block, one of the oldest commercial blocks in Charlottetown. 119-121 Grafton Street is the oldest building on the block and part of the group of buildings historically known as Sunnyside, perhaps because of its southern exposure. The designation encompasses the building's exterior and parcel; it does not include the building's interior.
The heritage value of 119-121 Grafton Street lies in its role as the oldest building on Dizzy Block, its association with the commercial history of Charlottetown, and its role in supporting the streetscape.
119-121 Grafton Street was built in approximately 1843. Whether James Macdonnell, who had previously lived on Water Street, built the combination shop and residence is unclear, however, he owned the building by the 16 September 1843 as the Colonial Herald newspaper carried an advertisement for a ventriloquism show and art exhibition held at James Macdonnell's new room near DesBrisay's Corner. It is also known that the Mechanics Institute held a meeting in the home later that year. The building would stay in the family for a number of years, as Macdonnell left the building to his son Nathaniel in his will of 1845.
James Macdonnell is significant in the City of Charlottetown for his contribution as the builder who built the Island's first House of Assembly and courthouse on Queens Square. This was designed by the English architect, John Plaw. Before it was moved off Queens Square in 1872, the building would also be used as Charlottetown City Hall and police station.
J.F. McKay ran a jewellery store from 119-121 Grafton Street for a time but in 1879, he would sell his stock to G.H. Taylor. Taylor, who had recently arrived in Prince Edward Island from England, took over the building and divided it into two sections. Taylor operated a jewellery store from the eastern section and W.R. Boreham ran his shoe store from the western section. Taylor's Jewellery would remain in the building for over 100 years.
119-121 Grafton Street has continued to be associated with commercial activity throughout its history. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Confederation Court Mall was constructed and eventually 119-121 Grafton Street was joined to the complex. In recent years, the building has been home to various businesses and a popular restaurant. Despite a fire in the 1970s, 119-121 Grafton Street has remained one of the few 19th Century house and business buildings remaining in Charlottetown. As the oldest business building on the block, it supports the Grafton Street streetscape.
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 119-121 Grafton Street:
- The overall massing of the building with its two storeys
- The shingle wood exterior with mouldings painted in a contrasting colour
- The size and placement of the windows, particularly the second floor windows with shutters, the dormer windows and the large storefront windows of the first floor
- The size and placement of the doors within each of the two storefronts
- The two storefronts, made up of both wood and brick, with large shop windows and a small canopy roof
- The gable roof with two gabled dormers
Other character-defining elements include:
- The location of the building on Grafton Street and its physical and visual relationship to its streetscape
- The building's ongoing association with commercial activity in the City