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Parish School

153 Spring Street, Summerside, Prince Edward Island, C1N, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2005/02/21

Showing west and north elevations; MacNaught History Centre and Archives, Natalie Griffith, 2005
Parish School
Parish School - west elevation detail; MacNaught History Centre and Archives, 2003
Detail of window moulding and front porch
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Other Name(s)

Parish School
Massey House
Old Convent

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/03/29

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

This handsome home at the corner of Spring and Pleasant Streets in Summerside, PEI, was the community’s first Convent and Catholic school. The designation includes the building and its lot.

Heritage Value

The heritage value of the former Parish School lies in its role as Summerside’s first convent and Catholic school, built to serve the rapidly-growing population of the harbourfront community of Summerside. Reverend James MacDonald and members of the Sisters of the Congregation of Notre Dame, an order based in Montréal, founded the school in 1864. Although run by the nuns, the private school was open to Protestants and Catholics and to both girls and young boys, and contributed to the education of generations of Summerside residents. The building served the community until 1885, when it was replaced with a much larger edifice.

Further heritage value of the Parish School lies in its association with Hugh J. Massey, a prominent local citizen. Massey was the deputy law clerk for the Prince County Court House and served under W.H. Pope, its first judge and a Father of Confederation. Massey was also clerk for the Town of Summerside for over 30 years. He purchased half of the convent/parish school and moved it to its present location in 1895 to serve as his residence.

Heritage value also lies in the Parish School or Massey House as an example of Maritime Vernacular architecture, a regional building style that rose from immigrants incorporating other styles with those they were familiar with and adapting to local materials and conditions. The Parish School is a good example of a Maritime Vernacular house with Gothic Revival features.

Source: City of Summerside Heritage Property Profile

Character-Defining Elements

As an example of a Maritime Vernacular house with Gothic Revival features, the following elements are significant:
- Off-centre front Gothic gable with its paired Roman arch windows and decorative moulding
- Cross-gabled roof (the back gable was removed in the 1970’s when an addition was added)
- Unusual use of a variety of siding materials, including clapboard, shingles and fish scale shingles, to create visually appealing and complex façades
- Wooden cornices on the north and south gables that separate the second and third storeys
- Symmetrical placement of windows on front façade and second storey
- The size, shape and location of the original front windows
- Paired, matching chimneys
A later addition that has become a Character Defining Element in its own right is the Classically-inspired front porch with paired narrow Doric columns, sidelights and semi-circular fanlight that was added in the 1930’s.



Prince Edward Island

Recognition Authority

City of Summerside

Recognition Statute

Heritage Conservation Bylaw SS-20

Recognition Type

Designated Heritage Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Building Social and Community Life
Religious Institutions
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type


Single Dwelling


Primary or Secondary School

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

MacNaught History Centre and Archives, Wyatt Heritage Properties, P.O. Box 1510, Summerside, PE C1N 4K4

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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