Description of Historic Place
131 Grafton Street is a brick, Italianate influenced commercial building. It makes up part of the Confederation Court Mall complex that dominates what is known locally as Dizzy Block, one of the oldest commercial blocks in Charlottetown. The building is located on the south side of Dizzy Block or what is known locally 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 131 Grafton Street lies in its association with the commercial history of Charlottetown, its Italianate influenced architecture, and its role in supporting the streetscape.
Prior to its construction in 1896, a wooden building stood on the 131 Grafton Street site. The new brick building was built for Daniel Gordon of the haberdashery firm, Gordon & McLellan. It is possible that Gordon also had the brick building next door at 127 Grafton Street built for rental purposes. Prominent local architect, C.B. Chappell designed both Italianate influenced commercial buildings.
The choice of the Italianate influenced commercial building was a popular one in the late 19th Century. It was considered more durable and fireproof than the wooden structures it invariably replaced. The design was also more decorative, being reminiscent of the Venetian arcades of the Renaissance period. The Italianate Commercial style building usually included a storefront with a recessed entry, large plate glass windows and a sign band. At some point 131 Grafton Street had its storefront modified.
The use of the building has remained commercial throughout its history. Originally, Daniel Gordon of the firm Gordon and McLellan, haberdashers occupied the building however, local directories reveal that later occupants included, Lambros Bros. shoe and billiard parlour, the Purdie-Ferguson Shoe Co. and dentist, Dr. J.E. Blanchard. It currently houses part of the bank next door. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Confederation Court Mall was constructed and eventually 131 Grafton Street was joined to that complex. As one of several 19th Century buildings on this historic block, it helps support 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 Italianate and commercial heritage value of 127 Grafton Street:
- The overall massing of the building with its three storeys
- The brick construction with its stone accents
- The size and symmetrical placement of the windows, including the first and second floor arched window openings that give an arcade effect and the paired rectangular windows of the third floor
- The flat roof with corbelled cornice
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 continuing role as a commercial building in the City