Ex­hi­bi­tion ex­plores legacy of Charles Ben­jamin Chap­pell

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT -

In the late 19th cen­tury, the pro­fes­sion of ar­chi­tect was emerg­ing on Prince Ed­ward Is­land.

Most pri­vate build­ings and many pub­lic struc­tures were de­signed by men whose train­ing was in prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence as house­builders.

Now, a new ex­hi­bi­tion is shed­ding light on one of the most im­pact­ful yet some­times over­looked ar­chi­tects in Is­land his­tory who is cred­ited with de­signs for more than 100 build­ings in Char­lot­te­town.

From House­builder to Ar­chi­tect: Charles B. Chap­pell’s Char­lot­te­town opens Jan. 23 at the Con­fed­er­a­tion Cen­tre Art Gallery.

“The work of C.B. Chap­pell is all around us and has made a huge im­pact on the look of Char­lot­te­town,” says cu­ra­tor Harry Hol­man, a for­mer pro­vin­cial ar­chiv­ist, his­to­rian and her­itage blog­ger.

“This ex­hibit gives a glimpse into the world of this im­por­tant fig­ure in the City’s his­tory.”

Chap­pell trained with Le­muel Phillips, be­com­ing his part­ner and, at the age of 30, was cred­ited with more than 30 build- ings, sev­eral of which helped de­fine the Vic­to­rian streetscape fac­ing Char­lot­te­town’s Queen Square. In 1884, the suc­cess of the part­ner­ship led to Ro­manesque Char­lot­te­town City Hall, per­haps his most note­wor­thy struc­ture.

Un­like his con­tem­po­rary, Wil­liam Critchlow Har­ris, Chap­pell did not de­velop a dis­tinc­tive ar­chi­tec­tural style. His de­signs span a range from ver­nac­u­lar through Ro­manesque, Queen Anne, and bun­ga­low, deftly re­spond­ing to the changes in ar­chi­tec­tural fash­ion and the whims of his clients. His out­put is note­wor­thy not only for de­sign, but also for the range of struc­tures to his credit. His draw­ing board was open to clients with re­quests for mod­est dou­ble ten­e­ments, but also for or­nate houses for the city’s elite.

Work­ing in the city for a span of 50 years, Chap­pell and his part­ners have left a mark that is not al­ways rec­og­nized. A dozen of the build­ings fac­ing Queen Square are the work of Chap­pell as are sin­gle and dou­ble res­i­dences through­out the city, es­pe­cially in the neigh­bour­hoods that de­vel­oped in the pe­riod from 1890 to 1920 such as Brighton and Up­per Prince Street.

Chap­pell’s sur­viv­ing struc­tures such as Zion Pres­by­te­rian Church, St. Paul’s Angli­can Church Hall, the old Prince Ed­ward Is­land Hos­pi­tal on Kens­ing­ton Road, sev­eral stores on Vic­to­ria Row. Th­ese, as well as scores of res­i­dences, at­test to the fact that Chap­pell has been re­spon­si­ble for more build­ings in Char­lot­te­town than any other ar­chi­tect in the city’s his­tory and has helped de­fine the look of the cap­i­tal.

From House­builder to Ar­chi­tect: Charles B. Chap­pell’s Char­lot­te­town opens Jan. 27 at the Con­fed­er­a­tion Cen­tre Art Gallery.

For more, please visit con­fed­er­a­tioncen­tre.com.


Chap­pell Pic­ture,a paint­ing by David Thauberger, de­picts the Gil­lis House, found at 48 Great Ge­orge Street in Char­lot­te­town. It is fea­tured in the new ex­hi­bi­tion From House­builder to Ar­chi­tect: Charles B. Chap­pell’s Char­lot­te­town, open­ing Jan. 23 in the Con­fed­er­a­tion Cen­tre Art Gallery.

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