Description of Historic Place
Belmont is a wood framed, two storey, hipped roof building influenced by the Regency style of architecture. Once the main residence of a large farm with a view of the Hillsborough River, the home has been converted into an apartment building and is surrounded by late 20th century residential development. The designation encompasses the building's exterior and parcel; it does not include the building's interior.
The heritage value of Belmont lies in its role as one of the few remaining houses in the City from the pre-1835 or Regency period; its association with the Wright family; and its role as an example of the lifestyle of the wealthy in the Charlottetown Royalty in the 19th Century.
Belmont was built by Hon. George Wright (1779-1842), colonial administrator, surveyor, businessman, officeholder, judge, justice of the peace and militia officer. Wright was married to Phoebe Cambridge (1780-1851) whose parents, John (1748-1831) and Mary Cambridge (d. 1832) were landowners and successful in business. The two families were involved in a business venture at nearby Bird Island Creek or what is known today as Wright's Creek. The Bird Island Creek complex included a brewery and milling operations. The business partnership was dissolved amicably in 1813, and control of it was given to the Wright family. The land, on which Belmont stands, lots 207 and 209 of the Charlottetown Royalty, was also given to the Wrights.
It is not clear when Belmont was constructed, but birth records for the Wright children provide evidence to support the period between 1810 and 1812 as a possible construction date. The Wrights' first two children were born in 1809 and 1810, but a place of birth was not entered in their birth records. However, when the third Wright child was born in 1812, Belmont Farm was provided as a birthplace. Interestingly, all subsequent Wright children were listed as being born at Belmont Farm, leading one to conclude that the home was probably built between 1810 and 1812.
Belmont remained in the Wright family for many years. Benjamin E. Wright owned it when an engraving of the home appeared in J.H. Meacham's 1880 Illustrated Historical Atlas of Prince Edward Island. Later owners of the property included the Andrew, Miller, and Davies families.
Although it has been altered since its construction, Belmont has retained many of its original features. The exterior shows influences of the Regency style of architecture, which was influenced by the public's increasing taste for the picturesque and architectural forms from other British colonies. The Regency Style was named for King George IV's regency as Prince of Wales (1811-20). Most Regency style homes are set in a location that provides for an excellent view and Belmont was no exception. Unfortunately, residential development has obstructed the once glorious view of the Hillsborough River that residents of Belmont once enjoyed. Many Regency style homes are one or one and one half storeys with low hip roofs and have a villa or cottage like appearance. Belmont features the verandah, hipped roof, broad eaves, Palladian window and large first floor windows common to Regency styled homes.
Belmont was one of a few early homes built in what was referred to as the Charlottetown Royalty. The Royalty was land set apart in the 1770s to provide farmland for the early citizens of Charlottetown. In time, a number of families of some wealth and prestige established estates there, the properties serving either as their principal residences or as semi-rural retreats. Important both for its architecture and its historical associations, Belmont remains a tangible reminder of the lifestyle of the wealthy that lived in the Charlottetown Royalty in the 19th Century.
Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
The following Regency inspired character-defining elements contribute to the heritage value of Belmont:
- The overall massing of the building with its two storeys
- The hipped roof
- The size and placement of the remaining chimney
- The mouldings painted in a contrasting colour, including the window and door surrounds and the cornerboards
- The size and placement of the windows, particularly the large sash windows of the main floor south facade and side elevations, the smaller sash windows of the north facade, the Palladian window of the north facade and the lunette above the French doors on the second floor south facade
- The size and central placement of the doors, particularly the panelled door of the south facade with its transom light and sidelights, the French doors of the second floor south facade and the paneled door of the north facade with its multi-paned window
- The size and placement of the porch on the building's south facade, with its paired columns
- The size and placement of the portico on the second floor of the north facade with its gable roof, eave returns, decorative arch, balustrade and paired columns
Other character-defining elements of Belmont include:
- The location of the building on Oak Tree Crescent and its physical and visual relationship to its streetscape