Description of Historic Place
277-279 Richmond Street is a brick double tenement built in the Second Empire style. It features a mansard roof, dormers, and many single and paired round arch windows. It is located in an area with a high concentration of heritage properties and overlooks Hillsborough Square. The designation encompasses the building's exterior and parcel; it does not include the building's interior.
The building at 277-279 Richmond Street is valued for its well preserved Second Empire influenced architecture; for its association with various residents of the City; and for its contribution to the streetscape.
It was constructed for confectioner, William Kennedy and engineer, James Turner in 1870. The 277 Richmond side belonged to Kennedy while the 279 Richmond side was James Turner's. Each owner owned his half outright. Although uncommon today, it is one of a number of homes in Charlottetown that were built with this arrangement.
William Kennedy mortgaged his half of the building in 1874, however he remained a resident of the building until his death. It was in William Kennedy's shop on Richmond Street where the fire of 1884 started when his kerosene lamp ignited some tissue paper. The entire row of wooden buildings were either destroyed or damaged. Happily, the owners decided to rebuild in brick and the buildings are still in existence to this day. The impressive row of brick buildings, called Victoria Row, is one of the finest streetscapes in Charlottetown.
277 Richmond Street was sold by the mortgagee to John T. MacKenzie in 1896. The MacKenzie family would remain owners of the 277 side of the building for the next 80 years. According to the 1922 telephone directory, Lillian MacKenzie was advertising instruction in voice and pianoforte from the 277 Richmond Street address.
James Turner and his wife lived at 279 Richmond Street until just before 1900. Soon B.C. Prowse of the prosperous Prowse Brothers firm lived there. Later in 1909, John Simms was a resident of 279 Richmond Street. Alice Maude Turner would eventually inherit the 279 section and her descendants would own it until 1969.
277-279 Richmond Street is a good example of the Second Empire style. The style is identified through its Mansard roof. This was named after François Mansart (1598-1666), and popularized by his son, Jules Hardoin Mansart, an architect who worked for Louis XIV around 1700. The Mansard roof is almost flat on the top section and has deeply sloping, often curved, lower sections that generally contain dormers. The Second Empire referred to in the style is that of Napoleon III (1852-1870). The style reached Canada through Britain and the United States and was used extensively throughout Charlottetown from approximately 1860 until about 1880.
277-279 Richmond Street was built in a fashionable area of 1860s and 1870s Charlottetown near the Hillsborough Square. Hillsborough Square is one of five squares located within the City of Charlottetown laid out in 1771. Residents of the area took pride in the appearance of their square and in the 1860s, asked City Council for permission to enclose it with a fence and plant ornamental trees. The square was often used for band concerts and contained a flagpole. Interestingly, residents sometimes allowed their cows or horses to graze within its borders. Although the days when it was used as a pasture are long over, Hillsborough Square is still a green space and contains playground equipment and asphalt paths.
An attractive, well kept, former home among a number of heritage homes built overlooking the Hillsborough Square, 277-279 Richmond Street helps support an attractive streetscape.
Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
The following Second Empire inspired character-defining elements contribute to the heritage value of 277-279 Richmond Street:
- The overall massing of the building with its two storeys
- The Mansard Roof with square dormers and cornice painted in a contrasting colour
- The brick exterior with stone accents
- The style and symmetrical placement of the windows, including the single and paired round arch windows with stone sills and brick voussoirs, as well as the arched dormer windows
- The style and central placement of the entrance doors with their arched transom and sidelights
- The size and end placement of the chimney
Other character-defining elements include:
- The location of the building on Richmond Street and its physical and visual relationship to its streetscape