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Robert Tilley House Municipal Heritage Site

Robert Tilley House, Elliston, NL
Robert Tilley House, Elliston, NL
Robert Tilley House, Elliston, NL

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land

Description of Historic Place

The Robert Tilley House is a three-storey, wooden structure with a steeply pitched gable roof. It is located at 11-15 Pier Road, Elliston, NL near the water. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

Robert Tilley House has been designated a municipal heritage site by the Town of Elliston due to its historic and aesthetic value.

Robert Tilley House has historic value due to its age and its association which prominent merchant firms. Built in 1858, it is one of the oldest standing structures in Elliston. It is associated with three historically prominent merchant firms, particularly the Tilleys, the first merchant planters in Bird Island Cove, the early name of Elliston. They arrived there in the 1850s and established a merchant shop in Tilley House. Robert Tilley operated a highly successful merchant business there until his death in 1872, and his son, Arthur, took over the family business until the 1890s. During this period, the Tilleys had much influence on the activities of Elliston, including politics, infrastructure, the fishery, social life and education. After the Tilleys' business closed, the shop was rented to two Bonavista firms, James Ryan Limited and Phillip Templeman Limited, which were setting up branches in Elliston.

Robert Tilley House has aesthetic value because it is a good representation of nineteenth century vernacular architecture. A three-storey structure of mortise and tenon construction using heavy woods such as pine and hemlock, it has withstood more years of weathering and is a testament to quality materials and craftsmanship. It features a typical steeply pitched roof with returned eaves and wooden windows with small raincaps. It also has aesthetic value for its association with Bonavista builder Allan Ryder. Ryder came from a well-known family of builders and erected a number of other buildings in the region including St. Mary's Anglican Church in Elliston, which was partially paid for by the Tilley family.

Robert Tilley House has further aesthetic value as it is an important landmark in Elliston. Located near the shore of Elliston Cove, the house is an important and highly visible element of Elliston's cultural landscape, and inshore fishermen traditionally used the building as a landmark for finding their fishing grounds.

Source: Town of Elliston Town Council Meeting Minutes of 2007/04/10

Character Defining Elements

All elements that define the building's nineteenth century vernacular design, including:
-use of traditional building materials;
-steep gable roofline;
-mortise and tenon construction;
-types of wood (pine, hemlock);
-raincaps on windows and wide, flat trim;
-returned eaves;
-traditional style of doors;
-original-style wooden windows, their fenestrations and multipaned appearance; and
-overall dimensions, and its height and massing which make it highly visible from the ocean.

Elements that define the building as a landmark including:

-location in community;
-and visibility from the harbour.

Notes of Interest

Notable subsequent owners are identified as: Arthur Tilley first Merchant Planter in Bird Island Cove (Elliston) from 1852-1890's; James Ryan Limited and Philip Templeman Limited until early 1900's.

Arthur Tilley turned the second floor into a residence and lived there until his death in 1925; William M. Tilley turned the first floor into a residence and lived there until 1956; Arthur Tilley was foremost in the rescue of the shipwrecked sealer "Eric" in 1878 near Muddy Brook (now Maberly) - all lives were saved - he was granted a medal by the Royal Society of London.

Location and History

Community Elliston
Municipality Town of Elliston
Civic Address 011-015 Pier Road
Construction 1858 - 1860
Allan Ryder
Style 19th Century Mercantile
Building Plan Rectangular Short Façade
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