The Central Chimney Braced Frame House – Part 3

The Morrison House at Flat River and the Charlottetown House at 222 Sydney Street.

This is the third and last post in my survey of central chimney houses on the Island. It is not a big sample – I am sure there are dozens I don’t know about – but it is a good representation of chronology, technology and evolution in style.

It may happen that these posts will inspire readers to reveal more central chimney treasures with special attributes that cry out to be included. It may be that in the weeks ahead notes on more central chimney houses will be inserted into the narrative I have developed.

In this post I deal with two very different manifestations of the central chimney house. The first, isolated near the sandy beach at Flat River, is the Morrison house whose interior woodwork – some of which has been stolen – and exterior trim suggest an early Nineteenth Century date, but whose chimney – what is left of its components – suggests a rejection of the central chimney and the adoption of stoves for heating the parlour and for cooking in the kitchen.

The second house, in Charlottetown, is a “classic’ central chimney house, perhaps from the early 1830s, which displays embellishments, inside and out, that are typical of its urban setting. Inside there are traces of fine plasterwork, probably the work of itinerant Irish masters who were in the area; outside there is a most particular trim about the eaves that suggests the restrained Greek Revival style I believe was introduced in many buildings in the area at that time by Isaac Smith.


The Morrison House at Flat River

At this time, I do not have access to family history on this particular property located so near to the water and the massive sand banks that have moved about over the decades, and which for years, were exploited by the Department of Highways and Public Works as a never-ending source of sand to spread on icy highways in the winter. The remains of those banks can be seen in the long spit that has built up in the direction of the Flat River estuary. The Morrison property – see the large red spot – was used to access the beach and heavy equipment passed right by the house on their way to the spits.

When we look at Meacham’s ATLAS of 1880, we see many narrow farmsteads running along the shore and all with frontage on the water. That is how the settlement, on property owned by the Earl of Selkirk, was filled with all these water-oriented farms occupied by Scottish Presbyterians. Lanes from the seaside farms snaked up to connecting roads that began to appear, leading to major communities. The road now called the Trans Canada Highway, came much later, and when it did come, it would intersect these earlier community roads. The basic system is still intact in a network of back roads. It would not be until the late 1880s that branch lines of the railway finally snaked their way to this area, coming as far down as Belle River in Lot 62.

I have not yet located precisely on Meacham’s ATLAS the Morrison farm I wish to examine, but hopefully in time somebody will come forward and identify the property we are about to look at and I can colour it in for easy reference.

Today the Morrison property is approached by a field access road across from the Belfast Consolidated School. It is called the Morrison Beach Road and for many years has been a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing – and mining sand for the roads. All the traffic passed right next to the Morrison house and the barn close to it with no objections by the last live-in owner, David Livingstone Morrison (1922-2010), who died on January 9, 2010. This blog post is dedicated to his memory.


The approach to the house is not attractive with its wide heavy truck beaten-down road that touches the house. But this photo does show you the typical three bays for the row of small rooms at the back of the house, and the porch/addition, built a bit later, for storage and other domestic uses.

I should say that I came across this house in 2010 after the last owner had died and the house had been vandalised, hence the mess in the photos of the interior, which date from that time.

The owner of the house, I was told by a member of his family, refused the offer of having an electrical line brought down to his house, which was his right. Instead, he used oil and naphtha lamps to light the house. He did give in to one modern commodity regarding water. Next to the house is a pair of perfectly constructed wells lined with finely carved sandstone. They are truly a piece of art – a water sculpture.

Ever ingenious, the last occupant pumped water into the house from one of the wells with a small gas motor connected to a huge steel tank recycled from somewhere, and set up in the cellar, forming a reservoir from which water was obtained by a hand pump.


The Original Vista

It is when you place yourself in front of the house that you begin to appreciate the wisdom of the original location, not directly facing the sea, which is quite nearby, but following a long narrow strip of rich alluvial soil that creates a pleasing vista to the edge of the Flat River inlet, with a view, full of enigma, of the convolutions of the estuary beyond.

It is an approach to the house arranged in a manner that is reminiscent of the Eighteenth-Century idea of the Picturesque in landscape, where your view could easily become the subject of a painting in that style. Even today, in its abandoned state, the property gives off a powerful feeling of a special sense of place, and one could imagine this feeling intensifying were the house ever restored and become living home once again.

This detail from Google satellite photos gives a very clear idea of the long sweep of fields leading to salt marsh and the drainage of the Flat River.


Looking at the house we see at once that it is basically like all other central chimney houses constructed in that fifty- or so-year period from the late Eighteenth Century to the middle of the Nineteenth. It is a small house with three bays. The original door has been replaced by a modern one and a modern store-bought double window replaces the 6 over 6 in the kitchen. When the upstairs space was converted into plastered bedrooms, the space under one of the eaves was illuminated by a small custom-made 1 over 1 window located on the porch end of the house. And finally, some time after the main house was constructed, an addition was added, only half the width of the house, and set back slightly from the façade. It has unusual 4 over 2 window sashes.

By the end of the Nineteenth Century the house would have lost its original orientation toward the estuary when a country lane was opened to connect with the Flat River and Lower Post Roads.

One should note the austerity and simplicity of the eave returns on the house, and the basic decoration of the joint between fascia and soffit with a simple moulding. The return, like in most of these houses, is no more than the soffit board turning the corner to give the impression of having entered into the fabric of the house. It has no edge decoration or supporting moulding at the joint between fascia and soffit. It is neoclassical construction at its most essential.

The window frames, which retain their 6 over 6 arrangements of sashes, are also given a very similar treatment, as in most of these houses built during this early colonial period. It consists simply of a board with an interior beaded edge framed by a narrow mounding, again done with a hand plane, that seems to be an ovolo (egg-shaped) with a bead (narrow strip) running along the inside. (This must be checked.)

This sketch plan of the house is not exact because it was reconstructed from an incomplete series of photographs taken when I was reluctantly given very brief access to the house in May of 2010. It is likely that the arrangement of rooms along the back of the house that I have sketched in is wrong in small, maybe major details. The same applies to the addition. However, in essence, the front rooms and the arrangement of staircase and peculiar chimney arrangement are correct, and that is most important at this time.

(Note: The house ground floor was measured in October 2022 and an accurate sketch plan will be inserted here as soon as possible.)

It is vital to examine the cellar of the house constructed with quarried sandstone. Such a tall foundation and huge cellar space is unusual and rare in houses of this style and period.

The cellar, almost tall enough to be a basement, is 7-8 courses tall. Quite heavy blocks of sandstone form the footing, and as the wall rises, the courses become thinner except for the top course that supports the sills. It is massive.

At this point our examination of stone becomes crucially important as we examine the chimney base. It is half the size, perhaps less, of the usual central chimney base such as those we have encountered in previous posts.

All becomes less confusing when we enter the kitchen and look at the wall where we expect to see a massive fireplace. There is none. Instead, there is a relatively new brick chimney with two thimbles (openings into the flu), one set low to accept the pipe from a small low stove, and one taller, made to accept a modern cooking range.

This is all very peculiar. Where has the central chimney gone?


It is only when we go into the entrance hall that the mystery is solved: a staircase rises through the space that would be required for the parlour fireplace. The kitchen chimney is on the right as you reach the top of the stairs. What has happened?

Going into the parlour we see a very fine neoclassical room with beautiful painted woodwork. It was heartbreaking to see that the house had been broken into by vandals and completely trashed. Nevertheless the beauty of the architecture shone through the chaos. This room has been plastered, suggesting access to a sawmill to cut laths for this fairly large space. A chair rail went around the room at window ledge height and where we would expect the fireplace to be in a central chimney house, there is a very elegant mantelpiece (now missing). Had it been blocked up at a later time? The answer is no.

Going into the kitchen I was able to insert a tiny camera into the space behind the brick chimney and of the several exposures I was able to obtain, it became clear that the parlour mantel with a thimble was original construction. In the little awkward photo, you can see the plastering across the opening with no trace of any other construction except a raised brick channel leading from the parlour and joining into the kitchen fireplace. And you see the reason for this extraordinary innovative technology in such an early house: it is so that the staircase can flow comfortably and openly upwards into a roomy upstairs hall. Some readers may raise questions about the regularity of the laths visible behind the parlour mantel, indicating that they must have been cut in a sawmill. It is possible but does not detract from the early construction date I propose.

This detail from my plan – awkwardly drawn – shows clearly that the parlour fireplace has been abandoned to allow for a straight staircase, and the exhaust from the parlour stove passes under the stairs and rises in the large kitchen fireplace.

In the limited time I had to examine the floor, I did not see any evidence that there had been a fireplace in that spot. It appears that this early kitchen may have had a stove as well!

It is possible that that the parlour was heated by a franklin stove, just as in this illustration from the internet. The arrangement is identical. Having lived for a number of years in a central chimney house with a room heated with just such an arrangement, I can testify that the amount of heat produced with a very small quantity of wood was tremendous and reached all corners of that room.

You may wonder whether stoves both for parlour and kitchen were available on the Island at that time and the answer is yes, supported by this passage on page 60 from the Journal of the House of Assembly in Charlottetown:

Mr. Speaker communicated to the House the Report of the Commissioners appointed under and by virtue of a clause in the Act of 4th Will, cap. 23, for purchasing furniture for the Hall, three Rooms, Office, and Anti-Room, and the necessary Stoves for the new Government House. (For the said Report see Appendix (C) at the end of the Journal of this Session.)

Appendix C, p. 2, See page 60, Section A.

Kitchen range, with Boiler and oven, Roasting Jack, Fire Irons, &c. complete.
Large handsome Stove for Hall or Saloon.
Four Franklin Stoves, with grates, for the principal rooms and hall, with Fenders, Fire Irons, &c. complete.
Six common Franklin Stoves with grates.


Stoves, with all their accouterments, were easily available on the Island at the time the Morrison house was built, and the importance of this house lies in the fact that it is our only known example of that early step in the transition between the central chimney and stoves.


The decorative trim in this house was extremely fine, deriving from the late Eighteenth Century Adamesque style in England. The mantel was supported by two fluted upright members or pilasters that support a cross piece or entablature in a stylised Doric style which in turn supports the cornice, which is the mantel shelf. Lovely ornaments, perhaps a mirror and a clock and a pair of ornamental candlesticks would most probably at one time have graced this fine piece of work.

You will note that the detachable panelling that makes up the overmantel is not present here because there is no great chimney stack to maintain from time to time, or in case of a chimney fire. Access inside the wall is no longer needed. As a result the mantelpiece is the only traditional element that is required in this formal room and the wall above it is plastered.

All the rooms of the original house had different grades of ornamental woodwork, depending on their function. The doors were the traditional six-panelled doors, all with original box locks.

The kitchen part of the house with the wing attached to it were all finished in wide boards, laid both horizontally and vertically. Here the quality of the decorative trim was simpler and the doors, although six panelled, were heavier.

The original beam structure was intact and connected to a heavy cross beam, the chimney girt, that ran from front to back. The other beam ends were connected to another beam running along the end of the house, called the front girt.

The kitchen opened into the typical addition one finds on these houses. Most of the doors had original hardware with the finer box locks being found on the parlour side and simpler latches on the kitchen side. There were a variety of kitchen cupboards, some built into the woodwork in the area of the chimney, while other open shelves, finely crafted were attached to the walls in various places. In all there was a great deal of very find woodwork, from trim to doors to cupboards.

If the complete vandalising of the house had not been enough, between my first and second visits robbers had come and stripped the mantelpiece and the panelled cupboard doors in the kitchen. Valuable box locks were also stolen. The complete essence of the Morrison house, especially the parlour, built with the greatest care and style, is now but a memory preserved in these photographs.


Special Thanks

On July 5, 2022, Rob Harris, the new owner of this property kindly gave me full access to the house and grounds so that I could finish the documentation begun in 2010.

On October 18, 2022, Manny Davidson assisted me in the difficult and complicated task of measuring the ground floor so that an accurate sketch plan could be produced.

My thanks to both for advancing the documentation of this perhaps unique transitional central chimney house.




Urban houses must have urban sophistication – style is elevated.


222 Sydney Street, Charlottetown, c. 1830-33

The last central chimney house that I wish to examine is located in Charlottetown, and as you might expect, in such an urban setting, construction details may be of a higher quality. For many years I lived in close proximity to a central chimney house at 222 Sydney Street. I believe this house was constructed before 1833 on this very site, straddling two city building lots. The evidence for this is found in Wright’s map of property encroachments on city property.


Detail from Wright, George, PLAN/ of/ CHARLOTTE TOWN/ Showing the true position of the Streets/ and the encroachments thereon/ Surveyed by Order of His Excellence/ Lieutenant Governor Young, 1833. PARO.

The house outline filled with red is the house in question. It is very close to Queen’s Square, the heart of the city, and the house, on the NE corner of Prince and Richmond streets where Isaac Smith lived. It is encroaching on city land.

The house perhaps moved back several feet from the street edge appears in this detail from the plan of the city in Lake’s 1863 map of Charlottetown included in his huge wall map of the province.


Detail from TOPOGRAPHICAL MAP/ OF/ PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND/ IN THE/ Gulf of Saint Lawrence/ From actual Surveys/ and the late Coast Survey/ of Capt. H. W. Bayfield/ BY D. J. LAKE C. E./ Published by/ W E & H H Baker/ ST. JOHN, N.B./ J. SCHEDLER, MAP ENGR./ LITHOGRAR./ 120 Pearl Str. N York/ 1863. Approx. 193 x 123 cm (4 x 6 feet), Robertson Library, UPEI.

We see that there are now two additional buildings on the block. One more city map needs to be consulted, the great Meacham map of the city that appeared in his 1880 ATLAS.


Detail from pages 139-140 in Illustrated Historical Atlas of the Province of Prince Edward Island, From Surveys made under the direction of C. R. Allen, C.E., Engraved by Worley &Bracher, 27 South Sixth Street, Philadelphia, Pa.; Printed by F. Bourquin, 31 South Sixth Street, Philadelphia, Pa., Published by J. H. Meacham & Co., 1880.

From 1833-80 the street has filled up with five more buildings.

If we look at the latest satellite view provided by Google Maps, we see that only one change has taken place since 1880, and that was the construction of three massive semi-detached dwellings on Hillsborough Street, numbers 55-57-59, overlooking Hillsborough Square.

Courtesy Google Maps


And the house, what of it? This is what it looked like when I first came upon it in the early 1980s.

At that time, it was unoccupied, and the interior had been mostly gutted to create modern spaces. Only one wall with a fireplace, and attic bedrooms were spared. In her 1983 book, Charlottetown: The Life in its Buildings, Irene Rogers has this to say about the history of the house.

Samuel Nelson and his brother John came to Prince Edward Island in 1785 as wards of Lieutenant-Governor Fanning. Very little is known of their background except that they came from Philadelphia.

John owned the land at this site and in 1817 sold it to Samuel [sic]. It is difficult to know if a building was in existence at that time. In 1833 George Wright, in his field notes on Charlottetown, indicated a house at this exact location. He called it “Mr. Brown’s house” and an explanation could be that Samuel Nelson rented the property to Alexander Brown, master of the Grammar School.

As late as 1863, when the Lake Map of Charlottetown was lithographed, only this one small cottage is shown on the 168-foot frontage of Sydney Street owned by the Nelsons. [This is incorrect. Lake shows two other buildings on the block.]

(Rogers (1983), p 285.)


There was a period of anxiety among architecture lovers when rumour spread that this house might be demolished. At that moment Catherine Hennessey, the inspiration and energy behind the Heritage Foundation that eventually became the PEI Museum, bought the property and restored it to a stylish condition so that it became one of the jewels of Charlottetown architecture.

For years the house was her home where friends and newcomers experienced her hospitality, knowledge and wit. Simply painted with colours popular in Early Romantic cottages the architectural components once again were quietly but unambiguously visible.

Using a system of classically derived design elements the style is the now-popular Greek Revival that had been gaining momentum in England and America. The spirit of it all was to produce, even in a simple house, the essence of a classical temple. So, the corner boards or pilasters were very wide, with a raised or sunken center panel supported by a heavy simple base and topped by a capital that was little more than a modillion placed against the soffit. It suggested movement and excitement at the top of the symbolic column, the way the volutes or scrolls of an Ionic capital suggest movement and refined elegance.

This style is unique to Prince Edward Island, especially in the region around Charlottetown, which was Isaac Smith’s sphere of influence.

It is important, at this time, to distinguish it from what was happening with the Greek Revival style in the rest of the region, going down into New England. As you can see in these two houses from the Tantramar region near Sackville, New Brunswick, the approach to design is more conservative with base, column, capital, entablature and cornice in the way we understand them from the design books of the time.

Isaac Smith (1795-1871) was a Yorkshire man who arrived in Charlottetown in 1817, just three years before a great architect of the Picturesque movement in England, and author of several books on the subject, John Plaw died. Smith inherited Plaw’s unfinished projects in the city and I believe took on a vital architectural detail from Plaw’s 1811 Courthouse that he modified and made his own expression of the Greek Revival for the rest of his time in Charlottetown. In arguments that I will present in a later blog post on the Greek Revival on the Island, I will suggest that Smith, about whom we know almost nothing as far as his training was concerned, may have benefitted greatly in the three years he had the opportunity to learn from Plaw’s experience.

Detail of photo courtesy of a Private Collection


Plaw, working from his own design sense and experience, as early as 1811 finished his Charlottetown Courthouse. It had broad pilasters topped by the suggestion of a Tuscan Doric capital, surmounted by a symbolic entablature space and then finished it, Roman style, with a flat modillion or bracket under the soffit.

It is my firm belief that Smith adapted this in the manner you see in the drawing above and from the time he became aware of the spreading Greek Revival style in the region, did not imitate those variations of the style, but created his own, inspired by Plaw’s courthouse eaves. You can see his basic Greek Revival system on the corner of the house at 222 Sydney.

I have put forward this theory of the Island having its own Greek Revival style for over thirty years now, but not a single person has ever shown the least interest in my proposal.


Architectural style is full of traditional elements that ensure predictable practice in the exterior articulation of buildings. Take for example the window frames on this house, and others like it in the region. It is just like its counterparts off the Island, with Tuscan Doric pilasters, with block bases, supporting an entablature and a cornice that symbolises the top of the “building.” The window is a miniature temple, if you wish.

When we come to look at the doors, at least the front entrance, we are met with an arrangement of mouldings exactly like the window. The builder is being consistent. The front door (on the right), as one would expect in these early houses, is six-paneled, while the later side door has only four. Both, for functionality and style, have transoms, often quite elaborate, especially the one that used to be above the front door of 222 Sydney.

Drawn by students from the Holland College School of Technology and Vocational Training, c. 1985.

It is very geometric and not at all classical. This is where design practice and tradition can become complex. The design of this geometric transom is called Chinese Chippendale. It all goes back to the last half of the Eighteenth Century when many different national styles influenced English design. The French had shown an unusual interest in Chinese design elements taken from the porcelain they imported by the shipload. Soon the fantastical architecture we see depicted on porcelain – like the Blue Willow pattern we are all familiar with – was converted into Chinese gardens with pagodas and bridges. Chinese curlicues also found their way into fabric and furniture design, and Thomas Chippendale (1718–1779), a great cabinet maker and decorator, introduced geometric splats into the back of chairs which went under the name, as time passed, of Chinese Chippendale. This design was adapted to windows of various kinds, the most popular of which to reach the British colonies was the transom we see on the front door at 222 Sydney.

Some time after it was built the house received another door in the east gable end. The door mouldings are not at all like those on the front door, being simpler and perhaps more hastily done. The transom however is extremely handsome with a very accurate fanlight with radiating bars enclosing five pie-shaped panes of glass with a semi-circular filler at the bottom. The rest of the frame is carved also with a design radiating from the corners. This was extremely popular, deriving from Eighteenth Century English styles that, in one way or another, has lasted into our own day.

It is not known why this extra door was installed. One may speculate optimistically and say that it was the garden door, leading out of the sitting room, into an ornamental garden that faced onto Hillsborough Street. Government House, a contemporary of this one, had such a door and such a garden.

The design of this house is very tight and symmetrical, with the great central chimney as the crowning element. Everything is rational; everything is satisfying. The house exudes calm and stability.

Drawn by John C. Fraser, Holland College School of Technology and Vocational Training, c. 1985.

When we examine the plan of the house as it survived into the Twentieth Century, we see the addition at the back which has led people to describe this as a Cape Cod house. This is an error because, having examined the construction details of this part of the house after it had been gutted, it was evident that it did not have anything to do with the original construction.

Drawn by John C. Fraser, Holland College School of Technology and Vocational Training, c. 1985.

With a little cut and paste I have altered the above plan into one that reflects the original design as I was able to reconstruct it from examining the interior. That was simple as the downstairs had been almost completely gutted.

Drawn by John C. Fraser, Holland College School of Technology and Vocational Training, c. 1985.
Modified by Reg Porter, 2022.

By cutting off the back portion and moving a few walls we get a classic central chimney plan with the two front rooms enjoying the large fireplaces and the three back rooms serving as a spare bedroom and pantrys. This being an urban house it was felt necessary to receive guests in as spacious an entrance as possible and so the staircase, excruciatingly compressed, was placed behind the chimney.


The Appearance of Decorative Plaster

The parlour or sitting room and the entrance hall were all covered with decorated plaster in the form of cornices and elaborate roses from which to hang a chandelier.

An interior cornice, often very complex in its component parts, ran along the top of the wall where it met the ceiling. They were difficult to create because an extremely experienced plasterer was required to “run the cornice,” that is, using a board with the profile of the desired cornice design cut out, the plasterer would run his template over specially prepared plaster that had put in place in front of him by an assistant and the result was a smooth assembly of various mouldings selected and combined to make the desired pattern. Here is a selection of such profiles taken from Pinterest.


There are endless combinations possible, and in concave (cavetto) portions of run cornice, hand cast leaves and ornaments could be added at the end to produce the most light-catching designs.

The hall and sitting room at 222 Sydney had a very simple but effective cornice for those tight spaces. It gave the effect of a slightly coffered ceiling, a practice developed in Greek and Roman antiquity.

In many old houses one finds on the ceiling complex circular plaster centerpieces designed to reflect and modify the light coming from the chandelier syspended from a hook screwed into a ceiling beam. This is often referred to as a ROSE.

The origins of the name “rose’ for this ornament is interesting. In ancient times, inspired by a mythological story, the rose became a symbol of secrecy and confidentiality. At a Roman banquet a vase of roses might be on display, or hung from the ceiling, to remind the guests that all the conversation of the evening, some of it perhaps sensitive, was sub rosa, or under the rose of confidentiality. This passed on through Christian practices of having a rose carved on a confessional, ensuring the absolute confidentiality of the confession. The practice spread into house architecture when plaster became the way to finish walls and ceilings, and elaborate roses began to appear.

So pervasive are the symbols of our culture that the rose came to 222 Sydney Street where I hope it still greets you as you enter that exiguous hallway. It is composed of a circle of acanthus leaves, a member of the thistle family, that since antiquity inspired ornament in both stone and plaster work because of its elegance and because of the way it refracted light. It grows wild in Greece. Here is a specimen growing in the Cloisters Museum in New York. It symbolises immortality.

Who, you may wonder, would have the skills to do such work in Charlottetown? Well, as it happens, in the 1830s-40s period there were Irish plaster workers present in the city who were kept busy ornamenting all the fine buildings that were going up at that time, not least of which was Government House (1834).

The Irish at that time were famous for plasterwork, having learned those, and stucco skills from Italian masters who were brought to Ireland to decorate the great country houses of the English landlords. The existence of a Mr. James Connell, a well-known Irish plasterer working on the Island was immortalised by some fracas a C. H. Chudleigh was involved in, as hinted at in this exchange in the Royal Gazette of October 8, 1833.

A letter signed “A Friend to the Arts”, (in answer to one written by C. H. Chudleigh) has this information in it:

“I think Mr. Chudleigh would do well were to confine himself to plain plastering and bricklaying, such as he is now employed at in Mr. Levitt’s new house – the cornices in which Mr. James Connell, lately from the neighbouring province, (and who, I understand, is a well-known proficient in his business) has lately undertaken, together with other heavy contracts, such as the plastering and cornices of the new Government House, the plastering and cornices of the Chief Justice’s intended new house, Mr. Brecken’s ditto, etc.


Later, in the 1840s when Province House was being plastered a whole crew of Irishmen was brought in to do the spectacular work one used to be able to see there. I don’t know if any of it will survive the recent multi-year restoration which involved the complete gutting of the building.


At 222 Sydney, only one fireplace wall was intact. It was very simple with the usual detachable overmantel panel and a simple mantelpiece. In this photo I took in the midst of chaos you can see that the wood had been grained and you also can see the large brick opening of the fireplace itself.

Traces of the interior wood trim still remained, and they were simple and elegant as in this panelled window arrangement.

Everything – every decorative element – in this perfect little house worked together to produce the serenity of classicism.


Behind the central chimney was the staircase, narrow beyond description that led to a pleasantly arranged and plastered loft with small but comfortable bedrooms where standing was almost impossible.

222 Sydney Street is of the greatest architectural importance to the city of Charlottetown and I believe it is one of the 10 most important buildings in the city.

More than any other building it celebrates and demonstrates what is perhaps one of the earliest buildings in the local Greek Revival style to be built, even perhaps by Isaac Smith himself, who lived just around the corner.






The Origins of our First City

The time has come for us to investigate the origins of the amazingly beautiful and classically designed city of Charlottetown, which, as you can see in the bird’s eye view below, was to be home to a large number of architectural styles that appeared, and were celebrated, in the first hundred years of its existence.

In my next post I will begin a series on the origins and evolution of the city of Charlottetown.


1878 PANORAMIC VIEW OF/ CHARLOTTETOWN/ PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND/ 1878/, signed A. Ruger in the lower left-hand corner of the image. Scan of reproduction published by the Heritage Foundation in 1983.



A letter signed “A Friend to the Arts”, The Royal Gazette, October 8, 1833.

____________ Journal of the House of Assembly of Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown, Printed by James D Haszard, Printer to the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, 1835.

____________ Memorial Volume 1772-1922, The Arrival of the First Scottish Catholic Emigrants of Prince Edward Island and After, The Journal Publishing Co. Ltd., Summerside, 1922.

____________ Souvenir of the Scottish Celebration, title and first two pages missing, probably published by the Journal Publishing Co. Ltd., Summerside, 1922.

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Gowans, Alan, Looking at Architecture in Canada, Oxford University Press, Toronto, 1958.

Hersey, George, The Lost Meaning of Classical Architecture – Speculations on Ornaments from Vitruvius to Venturi, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1988.

Humphreys, Barbara A and Meredith Sykes, The Buildings of Canada: A Guide to pre-20th Century Styles in Houses, Churches and other Structures, distributed for free by Parks Canada, reprinted from Explore Canada, The Reader’s Digest Association (Canada), Montreal, 1974.

Jeffery, Carter W and Arnold G. Smith, Conservation Report: The Doucet House, Grand Pére Point, Rustico, Unlimited Drafting Inc., / P.E.I. Heritage Designs, Hunter River, PEI, 2001.

Johnstone, Walter. A Series of Letters, Descriptive of Prince Edward Island, in the Gulph of St. Lawrence. Dumfries: Printed for the Author, by J. Swan. 1822

Kalman, Harold, A History of Canadian Architecture, (Concise Edition), Oxford University Press, Don Mills, Ontario, 2000.

Kniffen, Fred, and Henry Glassie, “Building in Wood in the Eastern United States: A Time-Place Perspective,” Geographical Review, Vol. 56, No. 1 (Jan. 1966), pp. 40-66, Published by the American Geographical Society, 1966.

Macrae, Marion, The Ancestral Roof – Domestic Architecture of Upper Canada, Clarke, Irwin & Company Limited, Toronto, 1963.

Maitland Leslie, Jacqueline Hucker and Shannon Ricketts, A Guide to Canadian Architectural Styles, Broadview Press, Peterborough, Ontario, 1992.

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