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James Ryan Shop Municipal Heritage Site

James Ryan Shop, Elliston, NL
James Ryan Shop, Elliston, NL
James Ryan Shop, Elliston, NL

Statement of Significance

Formal Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land

Description of Historic Place

James Ryan Store is a two-and-a-half storey, wooden, mercantile style building with a steeply pitched roof, storefront windows, and visible stone foundation. It is located at #016-022 Main Street, Elliston, NL. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

James Ryan Shop has been designated a municipal heritage site by the Town of Elliston due to its historic, aesthetic and cultural value.

James Ryan Shop is historically valuable for its associations with the Ryan family and the mercantile trade in Newfoundland. The Ryans were the principal merchants on the Bonavista-Trinity region from around 1850 into the twentieth century. James Ryan began as a supplier for the inshore fishery and eventually expanded. Circa 1900 he built this store in Elliston (then called Bird Island Cove). The mercantile trade was historically important to Elliston because of the community's heavy reliance on the local inshore cod fishery. Residents sold cod to merchants such as James Ryan, who in turn supplied them with everyday necessities and work supplies.

James Ryan Shop has aesthetic value because it is a rare and good example of a style of mercantile building now found only in scattered locations in Newfoundland. The solid-looking, two-and-a-half-storey, rectangular, 19th century mercantile structure with its peaked gable roof is in the trademark style of the James Ryan Ltd. firm. It retains its wooden cladding, cornerboards, doors and roofing shingles, along with its telltale storefront windows and other windows. "JAMES RYAN LTD" lettering is attached to the left side of the building. The interior retains the shelving that reflects its original use as a store.

James Ryan Shop is culturally valuable because it is a reminder of a time when the fishery dominated everyday activities and merchants were the lifeblood of the community. The store is located in the old business district of town and was an active meeting place when in operation. James Ryan Shop provided an outlet for local dealers to unload their fish, making Elliston a prosperous community. The Ryan firm exited the fish trade in the 1950s, but continued to operate James Ryan Shop at Elliston as a general store until 1978. The building fell into disrepair, but has undergone restoration towards its adaptive reuse and retains is visual prominence in Elliston's cultural landscape.

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

Character Defining Elements

All original features representative of late 19th and early 20th century mercantile design, including:

-narrow clapboard siding;
-original size and style windows and window placement;
-storefront picture windows;
-original style wooden doors and door placement;
-steeply pitched gable roof;
-wide cornerboards;
-wooden roof shingles;
-raincaps over windows;
-stone foundation;
-and massing, orientation, dimensions.

All those existing interior features that reflect the original commercial function of the building, including:

-"JAMES RYAN LTD." on gable end;
-and streetside location.

Location and History

Community Elliston
Municipality Town of Elliston
Civic Address 016-022 Main Street
Construction (circa) 1900 - 1900
Robert Ryder
Style 19th Century Mercantile
Building Plan Rectangular Long Façade
Website Link