Description of Historic Place
261-263 Richmond Street is a wood framed, Maritime Vernacular style double tenement which was originally a single residence. It features a dominant central wall dormer breaking the roof line. It is located in an area with a high concentration of heritage properties and overlooks the Hillsborough Square. The designation encompasses the building's exterior and parcel; it does not include the building's interior.
The heritage value of 261-263 Richmond Street lies in its association with builder, Henry Smith; its Maritime Vernacular influenced architecture; its location overlooking the Hillsborough Square and its role in supporting the streetscape.
It is not clear exactly when Henry Smith built 261 Richmond Street, but it was before 1858. Henry and his brother, Isaac Smith, were contractors for two of Charlottetown's most recognizable landmarks. Their firm built Province House, where the Fathers of Confederation met to discuss Canadian confederation in 1864 and where the Province's Legislature sits to this day. Another one of their projects was Government House, also known as Fanningbank, the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor of Prince Edward Island.
In 1858 at age 63, Smith packed up his family and left for Auckland, New Zealand. The group of Islanders traveled aboard the Prince Edward, an Island built ship. Newspaper reports and diary entries tell us that the voyage took 162 days. The group arrived safely in New Zealand on the 13 May 1859.
Smith rented 261-263 Richmond Street to Rev. L.C. Jenkins, Rector of the St. Paul's Anglican Church before it was divided into two apartments and sold. Interestingly, two families shared ownership of the home. James Burbridge owned one third- an apartment accessed by a side door, with a fifteen-foot frontage. George C Worthy's family owned the remaining 30 feet of frontage with access through the front of the building.
The style of the building is Maritime Vernacular, which was a common style in mid 19th Century Charlottetown. A distinctively Maritime style, its features include a rectangular plan, a gable roof and a large, centrally placed dormer.
261-263 Richmond Street was built in what would become a very fashionable area of Charlottetown in the 1860s and 1870s, near Hillsborough Square. The 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 home among a number of heritage homes built overlooking the Hillsborough Square, 261-263 Richmond Street helps support the streetscape.
Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
The following Maritime Vernacular character-defining elements contribute to the heritage value of 261-263 Richmond Street:
- The overall massing of the building
- The symmetrical facade
- The gable roof
- The large central wall dormer which breaks the roof line
- The gable roof of the dormer with eave returns
- The style and placement of the windows, particularly the two over two windows of the first floor, the paired windows of the central gable, and the dormer windows
- The size and slightly off centre placement of the front door with its small canopy porch
- The style and placement of the two separated chimneys
Other character-defining elements include:
- The location of the building on Richmond Street and its physical and visual relationship to its streetscape