Investing in heritage

Dave Stewart
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Stephen Taweel was presented with a Heritage Award for completing an extensive refurbishment of the 1901 house at 37 Hillsborough St.

Stephen Taweel believes downtown Charlottetown is going to be one hot real estate ticket over the next 20 to 30 years.

With that in mind, Taweel purchased a dilapidated apartment building (it had five apartments) in July 2011 and spent the next 12 to 14 months fixing it up.

Taweel said the building, which was first erected in 1901, will last another 100 to 200 years.

He was one of the lucky recipients of the City of Charlottetown's annual heritage awards during a ceremony at City Hall on Tuesday.

"It was in pretty bad shape,'' Taweel said of his new home at 37 Hillsborough Street. "It became a challenge right from the get-go and on a project like this once you get started you can't stop. Wow! What a challenge.''

The heritage awards were presented to seven individuals and organizations in the community who have worked hard to preserve and celebrate municipal heritage.

Taweel wouldn't say how much he spent fixing the place up, just that it was "a big number''. However, the experience was priceless.

"The experience gained from that is something you can't get from education. You can't get it from a university or working for somebody else. You're working every day from 7 o'clock to 5 o'clock — every day, with two carpenters full time.''

The gutted the home-to-be right down to the studs, even to the roof rafters. Eventually, they removed the roof boards.

Taweel said he could have easily renovated the building and put apartments back in "but that would have changed the area''. Instead, he wanted to up the ante and add to the neighbourhood. It helped that the City of Charlottetown is developing a master plan for the loing-term viability of its downtown.

"Knowing the vision of Charlottetown for the next 20 to 30 years . . . I got in at the right time. I think the value of homes in Charlottetown has to go up in order for people to buy real estate and do what they want to do. It's going to become a place where you want to live in the downtown.''

Coun. Rob Lantz, chair of the heritage committee, said it was a banner year for the department. Normally armed with a budget of around $35,000 to $40,000, it handed out $75,000 this past year - money given out as grants under the city's heritage incentive program to offset additional costs which are incurred to own, preserve and restore heritage properties.

To be clear, Taweel's home is not a heritage property and he didn't receive any money.

Lantz says there is renewed interest in downtown living.

"My wife is in real estate and she tells me that a lot of people are looking at homes in downtown Charlottetown, (and that) property values are increasing,'' Lantz said. "There's a demand there. People like to live downtown.''


List heritage awards

The following individuals and organizations received a heritage award by the City of Charlottetown on Tuesday:

- Graham Robinson and Darlene MacMillan for the work they did at 12 Kent Street, a house that was built around 1900;

- Greta Duncan for restoring the 1859 house at 271 Kent Street;

- Stephen Taweel for completing an extensive refurbishment of the 1901 house at 37 Hillsborough Street;

- Mike O'Grady and Holland College for installing a replica of a sundial which was presented in 1773 by Capt. Samuel Holland, who was appointed to survey the Island.

- Mike Redmond and Murphy's Community Centre for bringing together a group of people to share stories about the area that were recorded to preserve the history;

- The Guardian newspaper for its special section and special hardcover book marking 125 years of the paper;

- Charles (Charley) McMillan, Regis Duffy and the board of Saint Dunstan's University for the addition of a sculpture of Bishop Angus MacEachern.


The city also handed out the first annual Catherine G. Hennessey Heritage Award on Tuesday. It was awarded posthumously to Frank Zakem who, as mayor in the 1970s, made a lasting impact on the heritage file. The Hennessey award will recognize valuable contributions within the entire city, not just the downtown area.


Geographic location: Charlottetown, 37 Hillsborough Street, 12 Kent Street 271 Kent Street Saint Dunstan

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Recent comments

  • Robert Snyder
    February 20, 2013 - 10:23

    I had a blast helping with gutting the top floor during my trip to PEI during our trip from Florida.Never worked so hard in all my life as a retired HR professional. Steve's vision for this home topped my expectations.His love for Charlottetown and his ties to this wonderful city is found though out this home. My wife and I will always return to Charlottetown.

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    February 20, 2013 - 09:38

    Again, it was not a heritage building so why the award. People may be looking at hoiuses in the downtown area but are they buying homes in the downtown area. Are you sure that property values in Charlottetown are going up. If they are it is only the tax assessments that are rising. From what I read Canada and PEI specifically are waiting for the real estate bubble to pop. With all the empty store space downtown, why are the rental prices not dropping on a commercial square foot of space. Because most of downtown is owned by the few. You know, the few that can afford to let those properties remain empty. It is hard to say that the CADC is NOT a failure because it is.

  • LA
    February 20, 2013 - 08:02

    This is really awesome and I commend everyone who embarks on such a labour of love, it's truly a great thing. Sadly, the worst-looking and most innocuous apartment buildings downtown are usually the oldest, as in almost 200 years old, and were once someone's pride and joy family home. King st seems to have the biggest concentration of such really old buildings. The house looks beautiful Mr Taweel. Nothing beats a heritage house in the looks department.

  • More Awards Please
    February 20, 2013 - 07:05

    I'm not usually one to read the comments on the Guardian website, let alone write one. But I have to admit that I'm a little disappointed in the heritage board for presenting a heritage award to someone who fixed up an old house (at great, great length and personal cost, mind you) that was NOT a heritage building. Mr. Taweel did a fantastic job on the property (I had been through it while it was for sale and it was a MESS), but so did the young couple two buildings down -- they completely gutted and renovated the property at 185 King St, The Brecken House (originally constructed in 1833). They not only enhanced the historic streetscape of the property, but also refinshed every sq. ft. of original hardwood floor (in all seven units). Were they not considered for an award? Props to all those residents who tackle such costly and overwhelming projects, but let's give credit EVERYWHERE it's due!

  • empty building
    February 20, 2013 - 06:59

    congrats to all... now if they'd only do something about all the empty buildings in the CBD.

  • Tommy
    February 20, 2013 - 06:22

    Well done Stephen! The place looks incredible. Congrats to D&K construction on another successful reno! Those boys are certainly cleaning up the downtown area.