175 Richmond Street / Hon. George Coles Building
Law Courts Building
Public Archives of Prince Edward Island
Links and documents
1874/01/01 to 1876/01/01
Listed on the Canadian Register:
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Honourable George Coles Building is a brick, Italianate public building located on Queen’s Square next to Province House, the Island’s Legislature and the place where delegates met to discuss Canadian Confederation in 1864. It is surrounded by trees and at one time had a large public garden in front of it. For most of its history, the building housed the Supreme Court but has housed offices and the Public Archives of Prince Edward Island since the mid 1970s. The designation encompasses the building’s exterior and parcel; it does not include the building’s interior.
The heritage value of the Honourable George Coles Building lies in its association with the Province’s courts, its beautiful Italianate architecture and its importance in maintaining the historic ambiance of Queen Square.
The Law Courts Building, as the Honourable George Coles Building was formerly known, was constructed between 1874 and 1876 to house the Supreme Court. Prominent local architect, Thomas Alley designed the beautiful building and a large number of carpenters, masons and other tradesmen worked on various parts of the project. Before the building was constructed, the Supreme Court met in many different locations throughout Charlottetown including: a court house designed by John Plaw in 1813-1814, private homes, a combination courthouse and post office building and Province House.
The first meeting of the Supreme Court was held in the new Law Courts Building on 11 January 1876. Mr. Justice Peters presided. The new building was described as spacious, with excellent acoustics. A unique exterior feature of the building was the elaborate gas powered clock located on the west side of the building. It would remain home to the Supreme Court until 1976 when the building was gutted by fire, destroying the roof and the clock tower. The courts were then moved to the more spacious and newly constructed, Sir Louis Henry Davies Law Courts Building near the waterfront and the Law Courts Building was renovated to house offices and the Public Archives of Prince Edward Island. The Law Courts Building was renamed the Honourable George Coles Building after the popular Premier of Prince Edward Island and Father of Confederation.
The Honourable George Coles Building is Italianate in its design, which was popular with architects in the 19th century. The Italianate style was as fashionable in Charlottetown as it was throughout North America, with many public and commercial buildings showing its influence. The brick and stone buildings were modeled on the arcaded facades of the Italian Renaissance style found in Northern Italy.
Despite various renovations, including in the 1930s when the windows were changed on the south side of the building, and after the 1976 fire, when a less elaborate electric clock was installed on the roof on the south side of the building, the Honourable George Coles Building is a well preserved example of the Italianate style public building in Charlottetown. Located next to Province House, on historic Queen Square, it is important in maintaining the historic character of Queen Square.
Sources: Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
The following Italianate character-defining elements illustrate the heritage value of 175 Richmond Street:
- The overall massing of the building
- The size and shape of the building’s brick exterior
- The Wallace sandstone trim of the exterior, particularly the belt courses, keystones, sills, arches, voussoirs and quoining
- The style and placement of the windows, particularly the tall, round headed windows with Wallace sandstone label surround and key, as well as the rectangular windows with sandstone trim that was the result of the 1930s renovation
- The style and placement of the doors with their decorative arch composed of Wallace sandstone voussoirs and quoining
- The decorative corbelled cornice
Other character-defining elements of 175 Richmond Street are:
- The Mansard roof that at one point had iron cresting around the top
- The clock in the centre of the roof on the south side
- The location of the building on Queen Square
Prince Edward Island
City of Charlottetown
City of Charlottetown Zoning and Development Bylaw
Theme - Category and Type
- Governing Canada
- Security and Law
Function - Category and Type
- Office or office building
- Courthouse and/or Registry Office
Architect / Designer
Location of Supporting Documentation
Heritage Office, City of Charlottetown Planning Department, PO Box 98, Charlottetown, PE C1A 7K2
Cross-Reference to Collection
Honourable George Coles Building
The Honourable George Coles Building is a three and a half storey Italianate style building with a brick exterior with Wallace sandstone trim. It is situated prominently in Queen…