Written by Jack Whytock
PEI Province House Restoration Project is the big heritage restoration story for Maritime Canada – $61 million for phases one and two
Province House in Charlottetown is Prince Edward Island’s Legislative Assembly building and also a National Historic Site. The building creates a unique relationship between the government of PEI and Parks Canada through a 99-year arrangement for management established in 1973.
Major renovations of an incredible magnitude started in January 2015 and are planned to be completed in three phases by December 2021. According to reports from Parks Canada, the renovations are on schedule and Province House will reopen in 2022. Phase one involved the exterior steel skeleton, while phase two concerns the walls of Province House, including the windows, roof, and foundation. Phases one and two cost approximately $61 million. Phase three will consist of the finish work.
This is certainly the largest restoration project being done on PEI and also one of the largest and most significant in the Island’s history. Yes—just amazing, a six-year restoration project. One of the challenges has been sourcing replacement stone for both the interior and exterior. The windows are being restored in Ontario except for two, which are being worked on in the Heritage Retrofit Carpentry program at Holland College in Charlottetown.
Province House was built between 1843 and 1847 and designed by Isaac Smith, an Island architect/builder. It is neo-classical in design with a strong Greek emphasis. It was the venue for the 1864 Charlottetown Conference. Originally, the building had the judicial and the lower and upper chambers. It is situated on Queen Square looking out onto Great George Street and to Peake’s Quay. The rear faces University Avenue and first-time visitors, who now generally come by this street, will thus see the rear of Province House. Those arriving by water, on cruise ships these days, will first see Province House’s front on Great George Street as the Fathers of Confederation did when they arrived by the Charlottetown Harbour.
Here are some links to follow on this major restoration story, which also include excellent photos and descriptions:
See also James W. MacNutt’s Building for Democracy (Halifax, NS: Formac, 2010) for a detailed history of the style, layout and function of the building (ISBN: 9780887809309). MacNutt’s book examines the three Maritime legislative buildings in Charlottetown, Halifax, and Fredericton, and includes excellent drawings by Philip Jefferson, a Charlottetown architect.
Jack Whytock has a PhD in church history from the University of Wales. He has lectured in various colleges and universities around the world. He has had a life-long interest in heritage architecture and served for many years as the chair of the Institute for Architectural Studies & Conservation on PEI and as the PEI rep to the SSAC. He has a website devoted to church architecture: www.churcharchitectureworldwide.com.
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