Description of Historic Place
Sommerville/Petitt House is a Municipal Heritage Property located on three lots in the Nutana area of Saskatoon with the civic address 870 University Drive. The property features a two-and-a-half storey, stucco and brick house constructed in 1912. The designation applies to the exterior of the house; the wood-frame garage, formerly a carriage house, and a wood gazebo structure.
The heritage value of the Sommerville/Petitt House lies in its unusual architectural design, which blends Tudor Revival and Spanish Revival influences. Opulence in form, design and materials is reflected in its tall cross gables and dormers, broad front verandah, a dramatic port-cochère and a bell-cast tower. In keeping with the request of the owner, Herman Petitt, for a house plan that would turn heads, this lavish prairie mansion was designed by prominent architect, Frank P. Martin. Sommerville/Pettit House is an important representation of his domestic design skills during Saskatoon’s pre-World War I building boom.
Heritage value also lies in the architectural design of a tall carriage house, constructed in 1912 and a matching 3-sided gazebo built in 1936. Both these structures complement the design of the house with their wood-frame construction, hip roofs and exposed rafter tails.
Heritage value also resides in its contribution to a neighbourhood of stately homes located near the University of Saskatchewan. A number of high-end homes, including a 1919 Show Home, were built on University Drive, when the growth of the University made this road the upper-class residential neighbourhood of its era. Sommerville/Pettit House is strongly associated with the history of Saskatoon, particularly the family of Herman Pettit, an Ontario farmer and real estate developer who lived in Saskatoon briefly, until 1915. It is also associated with the family of George B. Sommerville, a Saskatoon dentist, who owned the house from 1918 to 1936. Nationally-recognized western Canadian historian, Arthur Silver Morton, occupied the house in the late 1920s.
Heritage value also lies in its conversion to a multi-family dwelling during the late 1920s. Changing economic conditions in the city and proximity to the University, resulted in many large homes in this neighbourhood being converted into apartments during this period. In this case, each floor was turned into a separate suite. The suites have been removed and once again, the house is a single unit dwelling, which stands as a representative example of the boom and bust history of the City of Saskatoon.
Heritage value also lies in its status as the first privately-owned residential dwelling to achieve heritage status in the City of Saskatoon.
City of Saskatoon Bylaw No. 6906
The heritage value of Sommerville/Petitt House lies in the following character-defining elements:
-those elements suggestive of the Tudor Revival architectural style, such as its steep cross-gabled roofs, stucco cladding, half-timbering, exposed rafter tails, narrow casement windows with simple mullions and muntins, brick lintels and in some, transom panes;
-those elements which speak to a Spanish Revival influence, including the verandah arches, parapet wall and corner tower with bell-cast roof;
-the port-cochère, tower, porthole windows and their placement; and the fieldstone piers of its verandah;
-the massing and height of its carriage house, as well as the roof line and exposed rafter tails of both the carriage house and gazebo;
-the placement of the carriage house and gazebo in relation to the main dwelling; and their wood-frame construction;
-those elements which speak to its anchor role in the University neighbourhood of upper scale homes, such as its massing, height and scale; and its placement on its lot; and the robust materials of its façade that include brick and fieldstone.