The Lyle House is an early example of Georgian classical architecture and used to be an inn/post office in Lot 16. Photo submitted by the Government of P.E.I.
* * * * * * * * *
SUMMERSIDE – At the same time the Lyle House was being built in Lot 16, the Battle of the Alamo was raging in Texas and Charles Darwin was forming his Theory of Evolution.
Since its construction in 1836 the house has by times stood proudly as a hub of activity as an inn/post office and been humbled by the ravages of time as a shed/chicken coop.
It has endured and outlasted history itself and now it, along with four other Prince County buildings, is being protected for future generations to enjoy.
The buildings have received ‘designated’ status under the Heritage Places Protection Act and have been added to the P.E.I. Registry of Historic Places.
Claude Arsenault, who purchased the house around 2005 and painstakingly restored and renovated it from a dilapidated state, is overjoyed with the designation.
“I’m thrilled, beyond thrilled,” said Arsenault.
“It’s an honour to live in this little house. It was built with a lot of love and care, it wasn’t slapped together in five minutes. The fact that it’s almost 200-years-old is a testament to the quality of the craftsmanship of these post and beam houses.”
Charlotte Stewart, a heritage officer with the provincial Department of Tourism and Culture, said all of these sites are unique in some way and are well worth protecting.
“It’s great to have these added to the registry, they really are important parts of our history and shows that the owners are interested, and place value on the buildings and want to see them recognized,” said
The Prince County buildings include: the Emerald, Kensington and O’Leary railway stations, St. Anne’s Church in Lennox Island and the Lyle House in Birch Hill. The West River petroglyph site in Bonshaw, Queen’s County, was also listed.
The P.E.I. Heritage Places Protection Act sets out two levels of recognition for homes.
The first, ‘registration,’ is basically honourific, and just signifies that the property has some historic note.
A step above registration is ‘designation,’ which is a means to protect the historic nature of the property. It places restrictions on the property in terms of what the owner can change and forces them to apply for a permit before making changes to the structure.
Properties receive registration and designation on the P.E.I. Registry of Historic Places by nomination and are vetted by a provincial committee which then makes a recommendation to the minister of Tourism and Culture, who makes the final approval.
As for Arsenault, he’s happy to keep living in his now officially historic house, until it’s someone else’s turn to protect it. He takes a transient view of such things.
“I’m 66 years old and I’ve come to the realization that nobody truly owns anything … We’re all just custodians, we borrow things and are kind of in charge of things – for a while,” he said.
About the buildings:
- The O’Leary Railway Station was built in 1913/1914.
- The Kensington Railway Station was built in 1905 and included P.E.I. stones in its construction.
- The Emerald Railway Station was built in 1924 and most of the community sprang up around it.
- St. Anne’s Church in Lennox Island is an 1895 Gothic structure, designed by Summerside architect George Baker, who also designed many of the city’s fox homes.