Description of Historic Place
The St. John the Baptist Presbytery is a 1 ½ storey wood frame, Gothic Revival parish house with Eastlake/Renaissance Revival architectural detailing, built circa 1895 in Miscouche.
The St. John the Baptist Presbytery is valued for its architecture, its historical associations, and for its importance to the Acadian community of Miscouche, Prince Edward Island.
In 1895, at the behest of Father John A. MacDonald, a new presbytery was erected next to the St. John the Baptist Roman Catholic Church in Miscouche (which dates from 1892), replacing the original parish house on the site dating from 1829. Built in harmony with the architecture of the church, the new presbytery was designed by George Edwin Baker (1843-1928) and constructed by Major Schurman, based on the same plans used for two houses in nearby Summerside (141 Summer Street, and 159 Spring Street). Baker was also the architect behind St. Anne's Roman Catholic Church on Lennox Island (circa 1895), and later St. Mary's Anglican Church in Summerside (circa 1907), and had previously partnered with Schurman in 1892 to build the new church in Miscouche.
Both the church and the presbytery were products of the grand event of August 1884, when Miscouche played host to the second National Acadian Convention. A few hundred delegates from around the Maritimes, in addition to the general public, gathered together over three days in order to discuss the development of the Acadian people, and chart a course for their future economic and cultural prosperity. From the convention arose the Acadian flag and anthem, and a resurgence in the pride of Acadian heritage on the Island.
Over the years, the presbytery has retained much of its original integrity. Although buildings associated with the parish farm have been removed from the property, very few alterations have been carried out to the structure itself, with the exception of a small window installed on the south elevation ell section circa 1990, and a new front door and window inserts for some windows circa 2005. The fact that the fine Eastlake detailing of the presbytery has survived intact for well over a century makes it a rarity in the Island's architectural landscape.
Along with the church, the St. John the Baptist Presbytery stands as symbol of the late 19th century renaissance of the Island's Acadians, sparked by the convention of August 1884. It continues to serve as a parish house, and is one of the prides of the community of Miscouche.
Heritage Places files, Department of Education, Early Learning & Culture, Charlottetown, PEI
File #: 4310-20/S46
The heritage value of the St. John the Baptist Presbytery is shown in the following character-defining elements:
- the overall excellent condition of the presbytery
- the location of the presbytery on its original footprint
- the overall massing of the presbytery
- the repeating theme of triangles and round shapes
- the wood clapboard cladding
- the wide eaves with tongue and groove boarding and wide fascia boards
- the cornerboards
- the steeply pitched, gabled roof
- the chimney on the spine of the body of the presbytery
- the steeply pitched, gabled roof of the projecting wing on the west elevation
- the elaborate Eastlake decoration of the peaks of the eaves (west, north, and south elevations), with turned spindles and pierced, curved, and scrolled gingerbread trim
- the bay windows on the west elevation, with two-over-two paned, vertical slider windows
- the paired round-head windows with applied decoration on a curved hood moulding on the second storey west elevation
- the fixed triangle window in the triangular roof dormer above the west elevation verandah
- the original window openings on the south (front) elevation
- the triangle grille decoration over the second storey south elevation window
- the roof dormer over the ornate, round-headed window on the south elevation ell section
- the matching medallion and dog ear hood moulding above both the south elevation attic window and the south elevation round-headed window
- the two slender window openings (with hood covers) on the second storey east elevation
- the slender window opening to the right of the back door on the east elevation
- the two original window openings on the first storey of the north elevation ell section
- the two original window openings on the second storey of the north elevation
- the ornate detailing of the verandah, with turned posts and brackets, ornate grille work with triangular decoration and gingerbread trim along the roofline
- the board-and-batten cladding above the second storey windows (south and north elevations)
- the cornices on the south and north elevations