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Charles Benjamin Chappell (1857-1931)

Born at Charlottetown on October 10, 1857 to William Chappell and Mary Ann Turner, Charles Benjamin Chappell would design a variety of buildings in Prince Edward Island, from private homes and public buildings to commercial blocks and churches. Three of his works are now National Historic Sites. He had command of many architectural styles and left an inspiring legacy of structures, many of which have become iconic.

Chappell was married on September 25, 1878 to Louisa Jane Holman and they would have four children. His foray into architecture began in 1881 when we find the Census listing him as a "carpenter". One of his first projects was an 1883 Second Empire influenced double tenement at 247-249 Prince Street in Charlottetown. A couple of years later, he formed a working partnership with Montague native, John Lemuel Phillips (1839-1904). For the remainder of the 1880s, they would complete some enduring properties.

In response to the devastating fire on Charlottetown's Richmond Street, Chappell and Phillips won the contract to design the Brown Block in 1884. This was a high profile project for such a young firm, given the fact that the more established architect, W.C. Harris, was also working on designing new business blocks adjacent to the Brown Block. Today, this streetscape is known as Victoria Row.

The Richmond Street fire even led to more projects for Chappell. In the wake of the event, Charlottetown's mayor, Henry Beer, declared that a new building for "fire and civic purposes" was needed. The Love family then operated a tannery on the corner of Queen and Kent Streets. This site was secured by the city in 1887 and construction of a new Romanesque Revival style City Hall began.

It was completed in 1888 and is now a National Historic Site. Meanwhile, the Love tannery was moved to a then remote area outside the city on St. Peter's Road. Chappell designed a new double tenement residence for them in 1886 which still stands at 37-39 St. Peters Road.

Also, in 1886, Chappell designed a wooden Queen Anne Revival style house at 63-65 Upper Prince Street. This was the manse of the former Grace Methodist Church which is now an apartment building at 55 Upper Prince Street. Chappell was a Methodist whose great grandfather, Benjamin Chappell, had come to the Island in 1774. Benjamin was friends with none other than Charles and John Wesley, the brothers who founded the Methodist faith in England. It would not be the last time Chappell would design properties for the Methodist church. In 1910, he designed a brick manse at 220 Richmond Street for Trinity Methodist (now United) Church. He also designed the adjacent Heartz Memorial Hall (destroyed by fire in 1965) at this time.

The wealthy merchant, James Paton, commissioned Chappell to design his new residence at 241 Prince Street in 1887. This Romanesque Revival home features impressive stonework, round arches, and a date stone indicating its completion year.

In 1889, the firm was advertising in Frederick's Directory of PEI, boasting that they had completed "upwards of Forty Public and Private Buildings... in the City during the past three years." They must have been most proud of their work with the new City Hall, since they featured a prominent engraving of it in their ad.

By 1890, the Phillips and Chappell firm won the contract to add the Italianate style Morris Building to Richmond Street. Two years later, they constructed the Stamper Block thereby completing the Victoria Row streetscape.

Chappell could afford to build his own residence in 1892 at 80 Euston Street. It was designed in the Colonial Revival style with an asymmetical gable and gambrel roofline, verandah, and contrasting decorative shingle pattern. A couple of years later, he would be commissioned to design a far grander home - a seaside estate - for the wealthy American oil baron, Alexander McDonald. Now known as Dalvay-by-the-Sea, this National Historic Site is a popular grand hotel in the Prince Edward Island National Park.

In the late 1890s, Chappell and Phillips were designing more grand homes like Edenhurst at 12 West Street and brick commercial buildings like 127 and 131 Grafton Street. They also won projects to build the new Prince Edward Island Hospital (now apartments), the new Prince of Wales College building (destroyed by fire in 1932), and a new wing added to St. Dunstan's College (1899). In the 1901 Census, Chappell would no longer refer to himself as a carpenter, but by the moniker of "architect".

As the Twentieth Century began, the firm continued designing large homes like 127-129 Fitzroy Street and 25 Fitzroy Street. After Phillips passed away in 1904, Chappell worked on projects alone. He completed the railway station in Alberton (1904); a hall for St. Paul's Anglican Church in Charlottetown (1906); and the Queen's County Jail (1907-1911). One of his largest ecclesiastical projects was Zion Presbyterian Church (1911-1913) on the corner of Grafton and Prince Streets in Charlottetown. After the formation of the United Church of Canada in 1925, Chappell would submit designs in 1927 and 1930 to embellish Trinity Church, which he attended, by adding a tall Gothic tower and ornate windows to the facade. This project was never begun, likely due in part to the onset of the Great Depression.

In 1915, Chappell began another phase of his career by joining forces with the Scottish born architect, J.M. Hunter. They would collaborate on a number of projects from private homes like the Tidmarsh residence (1915) to public buildings like Dalton Hall (1917-1919).

Chappell and Hunter designed not only buildings, but also commemorative monuments. In 1919, in the wake of the Great War, they completed a large memorial panel to honour the veterans who served and gave their lives from the Valleyfield Presbyterian Church. This church is now located in Montague and is known as Hillcrest United. In 1922, they designed the beautiful Celtic Cross located in Scotchfort on Highway 2. This cross stands on the site of the first Roman Catholic Church in PEI after the British period began. It honours the Glenaladale Pioneers who settled the area, as well as the life and work of Bishop Angus MacEachern.

Throughout the 1920s, the firm provided designs and alterations for many churches and parochial houses across PEI. Chappell also had established an office in Sydney, Nova Scotia and it orchestrated the design of several churches in New Glasgow and Amherst, Nova Scotia; Moncton, New Brunswick; and even Montreal, Quebec.

Chappell passed away on October 1, 1931 at his residence on 34 Ambrose Street in Charlottetown and rests in Charlottetown's People's Cemetery.

The following is a chronology of many of his surviving buildings in Prince Edward Island:

* Not yet listed or recognized.

1883

247-249 Prince Street

1884

126-128 and 132 Richmond Street / The Brown Block

1886

63-65 Upper Prince Street

37-39 St. Peters Road

1887

241 Prince Street / The Paton House

1888

Charlottetown City Hall

1890

154-156 Richmond Street / The Morris Building

1892

48 Great George Street / The Gillis House

80 Euston Street / C.B. Chappell House

110 Queen Street / Stamper Block

New London Hall

1894

James E. MacDonald House, Cardigan

1895

Dalvay-by-the-Sea

1896

131 Grafton Street

34 Ambrose Street / C.B. Chappell House

1897

181 Fitzroy Street / Hillhurst Inn

12 West Street / Edenhurst

127 Grafton Street

1898-1900

37 Kensington Road / Former Prince Edward Island Hospital

123 Fitzroy Street (renovation)

1899

Addition to the east side of St. Dunstan's College (now Main Building, UPEI)

1900

208 Dorchester Street

1901

127-129 Fitzroy Street

1903

75 Queen Street / Connolly Block (renovations)

1904

75 Hillsborough Street / John McMillan House

Alberton Railway Station

Kensington Railway Station

1905

25 Fitzroy Street

1906

St. Paul's Anglican Church Hall

1907-1911

Queens County Jail*

1909

The Bagnall House, Hazel Grove

Valleyfield Presbyterian Church (moved to Montague in 1971 - now Hillcrest United)*

1910

Trinity United Church Manse

1911

75 Central Street, Summerside / Former Presbyterian Manse

33 Summer Street, Summerside / Former Armoury

1911-1913

Zion Presbyterian Church*

1915

11 Churchill Avenue / Tidmarsh House

218 Kent Street (renovation)

1916

97-99 North River Road / Duff House

Additions to Charlottetown City Hall

1917-1919

Dalton Hall, UPEI

1922

The Scotchfort Cross

1924

45 Great George Street / The Bishop's Residence (balcony addition)

1927

192 Water Street / Former Summerside Railway Station

292 Water Street, Summerside

197 Central Street, Summerside

 
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