John E. Lefurgey was a leading Summerside shipbuilder, produce dealer and politician who bought the large residence at the corner of Granville and Prince Streets in 1871. He was a Conservative Member of the Legislature who helped steer Prince Edward Island towards the construction of a railway and in 1873 to join Confederation.
The house was originally built for William Tuplin in 1867 shortly after he came to Summerside from Margate, PEI. He was one of the foremost carriage builders of his day and employed many workers at his busy factory on Water Street. His newly constructed home was described in a December 1867 newspaper article as “one of the largest in the Town and has a very nice verandah all around it, and a cupola on the top from which a very fine view may be had of the harbor and surrounding country.”
John Lefurgey enlarged and embellished the original 2-½-storey house to an ornate Gothic Revival style. The pediment entry of the front verandah is surmounted with a lovely curved bay window with a small balcony above it. A delicate flowing line of bargeboard trim edges the centre gable that points to the original crowning feature, the octagonal cupola.
The twenty-three-room house had a grand scale that suited a man of social prominence with five daughters and five sons. The house remained in the family until 1924 when the youngest of the Lefurgey sons, Alfred, sold it to J. E. Dalton, a prominent druggist who for many years was the owner of the Clifton Hotel. Mr. Dalton raised the house by five feet and in the war years rented out several rooms in the house to airmen who worked at RCAF Station Summerside. In 1966, when Mrs. Dalton put the house up for sale, Wanda Wyatt bought the property, thus reclaiming her grandparents’ home and subsequently the entire block.
That same year she provided living and teaching space on the first floor for artist Ardis Desborough. Renovations were gradually made and the house was officially opened in July 1971 as a “Handcrafts Centre.” In 1973, the building began to be known as the Lefurgey Cultural Centre when a project under the national Opportunities for Youth program made it possible for four local students to spend the summer promoting the work of artists and craft persons in the town and at the same time to give tours of the historical home of John Lefurgey.