Ken and Jenny Meister are the new owners of the historic Holman Homestead property, situated in Summerside’s downtown core. The couple, who owns the Summerside Inn Bed and Breakfast, is already at work renovating the building into what will be a general store, ice cream parlour and three tourist rental suites. There will also be a space for the Summerside and Area Historical Society.
©Nancy MacPhee/TC Media
SUMMERSIDE - For Ken and Jenny Meister, it is now time to get down to work.
The city couple, owners of the Summerside Inn Bed and Breakfast, have purchased what they hope will be a second successful business in the city.
This week, the Meisters officially became the new owners of the historic Holman Homestead property situated in Summerside’s downtown.
“We are sort of in the honeymoon phase. We are still really excited,” said Ken on Tuesday.
Late last year, the home, for sale for some time, was under the threat of demolition, with then owner, Kay Rogers, granted the permit by the City of Summerside.
“It tugged at our heartstrings. We absolutely loved the property. We didn’t want to see it torn down. We had looked at it a couple of years ago and loved the house, but the price and the time wasn’t right for us,” said Ken.
Work has already begun, with a well-drilling company onsite Tuesday in preparation for the installation of a geothermal heating system.
Architectural plans still have to be presented to the city for approval and building permits obtained before the real work begins.
The P.E.I. Museum and Heritage Foundations has restrictions in place as to what can be done to the property and must approve any changes.Representatives have been onsite and “absolutely fell in love with our goals and objectives,” said Ken.
“We don’t see them at all as an obstacle.”
Revitalization plans include knocking down walls on the main floor — upon the city’s approval— to make way for an old-fashioned general store and ice cream counter.
“We hope people will be sitting in here and in parlour tables in the gardens,” added Ken. “They will have a menu at their table that will share a lot of the history and heritage of the building and about the Holman family.”
The general store will feature a mix of new and old, with old-fashioned candy, books from Island authors and antiques for decor and some for sale.
“We would love to have the jars where you can get your penny candies,” said Ken.
Upstairs, on the second floor, three tourist suites will be made.
The Meisters, who renovated their award-winning inn to its current grandeur, plan to do the work themselves, the cost estimated at about $130,000 with another $50,000 to set up the business.
Outside, the couple plans to breathe new life into what is the oldest English garden in North America, and with the help of Jenny’s green thumb, they will have its splendor restored.
A space will also be made available to the Summerside and Area Historical Society.
The Meisters hope to be serving ice cream floats and greeting visitors by June.
“We want this to be a community gathering place where people will come, they’ll feel a bit of the heritage of Summerside, they’ll be able to relax and remind them of the Summerside of the past,” said Ken.
“We know Summerside loves their heritage and we know Summerside loves ice cream. It should be a success.”
FACTS ABOUT THE PROPERTY
— Built around 1855 by Thomas Beattie
— Constructed as a parochial or priest’s house
— Purchased by Robert Holman in 1864
— He and his wife, Ellen, raised 10 children there
— Two large additions —a library in the 1880s and kitchen wing
— P.E.I. Heritage Foundation acquired the property in 1972