Description of Historic Place
The Williams Barn is a 1 ½ storey wood frame English, or "pioneer" style barn with a pitched roof, built circa 1865 in Poplar Grove.
The Williams Barn is valued for its age, its condition, the retention of its integrity, its connection to the shipbuilding industry and the prominent Williams family, and for its importance to the community of Poplar Grove, Prince Edward Island.
This barn was built on a farm established sometime between 1863-1865 by farmer, joiner, and master framer Robert Williams, whose father Edward, a skilled cabinet maker and master carpenter, had come to the Island from Appledore, England to work in the shipyard of Ellis and Chanter in Bideford.
Robert himself dabbled in shipbuilding, and is known to have stored his tools and half-models in the loft of the barn, which was considered an out-of-bounds area in order to preserve the secrecy of his construction methods. Upon his marriage to Bridget Ellis (a descendant of William Ellis of Ellis and Chanter), he built the 1 ½ storey Gothic Revival ell-shaped farmhouse on the property, and the barn, and went on to raise twelve children. Among their issue was the celebrated west Prince County builder Henry Wellington "Little Harry" Williams (1866-1834), who would inherit the property on his father's passing in 1893. Professionally trained in architectural design, he was noted for his work on local churches, and for his "fox houses", Colonial Revival style residences (embellished Four Square houses), sizeable and architecturally superior, and the product of the lucrative silver fox industry.
Few alterations have been made to the barn since its construction, most notable of which is the installation of new siding on the west elevation circa 1995. Now maintained by the fourth generation of the Williams family, the barn is significant for its combined use in agriculture and shipbuilding production, the latter fact making it a rarity among such structures on the Island; in addition, it is significant for its pairing with the "Little Harry" Williams House, itself a registered heritage place, which together form one of the stand-out Victorian farms in the area.
Heritage Places files, Department of Education, Early Learning and Culture, Charlottetown, PEI
File # : 4310-20/W7
The heritage value of the Williams Barn is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the location of the barn on its original footprint by the water
- the strategic placement of the barn to block winds off the Gulf of St. Lawrence
- the overall massing of the barn
- the pitched roofline of the barn
- the original door and window openings
- the wide cornice under the eave of the south elevation
- the bracketing detail on the south elevation cornice