Description of Historic Place
45 Queen Street is a large, brick Italianate influenced commercial building. It is located on the corner of King and Queen Streets in a traditionally commercial area of Charlottetown. The designation encompasses the building's exterior and parcel; it does not include the building's interior.
The historic value of 45 Queen Street lies in its role in the commercial history of Charlottetown; its Italianate Commercial influenced architecture; and its role in supporting the Queen Street streetscape.
45 Queen Street was constructed in 1872 for prominent politicians, merchants and shipbuilders, Lemuel Cambridge Owen (1822-1912) and William Welsh (1822-1905). Owen would serve as Premier of PEI (1873-1876) and Welsh would serve as MP for Queen's County, PEI in Parliament (1887-1896).
Welsh and Owen hired local contractor, John Corbett, and chose the Italianate Commercial style for their new building. The choice of the Italianate commercial building style 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. 45 Queen Street is a well-preserved example of this style within the City of Charlottetown.
Shortly after it was constructed, four local newspapers announced that they were moving their operations to the new building. The Examiner, New Era, Herald and Island Argus would all call 45 Queen Street home, as would a telegraph office, a commercial college and the local Chamber of Commerce. In 1876, local media referred to the building as the "centre of intelligence".
By 1889, its use had changed somewhat with Sterns steam laundry moving into the building. In 1902, the building was home to Riley's Tobacco Company, J.T. Peardon's Wholesale Grocery and Dillon and Spillett's seed grain company when it was gutted by fire. Its exterior walls, however, remained intact.
After the fire, T.B. and D.J. Riley of Riley's Tobacco purchased the gutted building and hired architect, C.B. Chappell, to renovate it. The Rileys operated their tobacco business out of the newly renovated building and were soon joined in 1905 by the Auld Brothers who ran an egg wholesale business. Unfortunately, 45 Queen Street was struck by fire twice more in 1917 and 1931. After the 1931 fire, architect, J.M. Hunter, was hired to renovate 45 Queen Street and Harry Corcoran acted as foreman for the project. The Rileys would eventually sell the building to wholesale grocers, R.E. Mutch and Company. It was later sold in 1962 and would continue to be used for wholesale purposes.
45 Queen Street is one of the largest and most impressive buildings on Queen Street, which is a traditionally commercial area of Charlottetown. It remains a vital part of Queen Street and supports the streetscape.
Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
The following Italianate Commercial influenced character-defining elements illustrate the heritage value of 45 Queen Street:
- The overall massing of the building with its four storeys
- The brick construction with freestone accents, including the decorative details of hoodmoulds, corbels, stringcourses, piers and sills
- The flat roof with corbelled cornice
- The style and placement of the windows, particularly the large plate glass windows of the first floor, the blind arched windows of the north side and the grouped two over two arched windows of the second, third and fourth floor facades - all with arched hood moulds and freestone sills with corbels
- The style and placement of the doors with their transom lights
- The three storefronts with large plates of glass, piers, elaborate cornices and signband
Other character-defining elements include:
- The location of the building on Queen Street