Restoration of the Inn

The Shipwright B&B Inn was built in 1865 by James Phillips Douse, a local shipbuilder. Mr. Douse, owned a shipyard on the Charlottetown waterfront and probably used the skilled shipwrights and ship’s timbers and planks secured from the yard for the construction. The house is timber framed in the “ballon beam” manner, a method of construction now abandoned due to the amount and quality of the lumber required, the lack of “stops” between the floors and the slight balloning of the structure. Do not worry. This is normal. In fact, the skilled carpenter who worked on the restoration stated, “For a house of this age, it is in the best condition of any I have ever seen in all my career as a carpenter. From close examination of the timbers used, I believe that 3 or 4 houses of the same size could be built today from this lumber using modern construction methods.

Architecturally, it is classified as a “Maritime Vernacular Cottage” , a style characterized by a steeply pitched roof and gables and a symmetrical floor plan on either side of a central hall. Occasionally, the style is referred to as the “Island Storey and A Half” or the “Green Gables” style. It was typical of the mid Victorian or Confederation Era. The Douse Residence is a beautiful example of the style.

Some interesting points:

The summer kitchen (now the Games Room) was in considerable disrepair and was the most expensive part of the restoration per square foot.

The exterior Hemlock boarding under the wooden clapboards was dimensioned at 1 1/8″ thick by 20″ wide, a truly monster board. Imagine the trees! The stairs were relocated from the exterior to the inside hall to reverse previous renovations. The missing newel posts, railings and spindles were found in New Brunswick from a house of the same era. It was possible to “match” the rise and run of the stairs from the remains of old wallpaper on the plaster walls.

The following points were of particular interest:

  1. Only 2 of the 4 walls were insulated
  2. Four pieces of pine furniture original to the house
  3. The upstairs floors were a ‘challenge’
  4. The building had to be jacked and corresponding plaster repairs made.

The following principles were followed :

Whenever possible existing materials were reused by carefully removing them in the “demolition” phase and placing them back again in more or less the original locations. Where replacement materials of the same age were available, they were used. Modern materials, fittings and appliances, where used, were selected and placed to “blend in and disappear”.

There was deliberate avoidance of trying to make the home look “new”. In an attempt to retain its charm and antiquity, small defects and little imperfections were happily accepted.