James Ryan Shop Registered Heritage Structure
Statement of Significance
Formal Recognition Type
Registered Heritage Structure
Description of Historic Place
The James Ryan Shop is a two-and-a-half storey building with a steeply pitched gable roof. Built in 1900, this property was used by James Ryan as a merchant's store, providing goods to Elliston and the surrounding region. It is located in Elliston, NL. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The James Ryan Shop was designated a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 1998 because of its historic, aesthetic and social value.
The James Ryan Shop has historic value for its associations with the Ryan family and the mercantile trade in Newfoundland. The Ryan’s were the principle merchants on the Bonavista-Trinity Peninsula from around 1850 onwards. James Ryan began as a supplier for the inshore fishery and eventually expanded, building one of his many stores in Elliston. The Ryan business was one of only a few that survived the bank crash of 1895, and it grew in to a very prosperous trade that lasted in to the twentieth century. The mercantile trade was historically important to Elliston because of the community's heavy reliance on the local inshore cod fishery. Up until 1950, the locals sold their cod to the town merchants such as James Ryan, who in turn supplied them with everyday necessities and work supplies. The mercantile trade in the community of Elliston played an important role in its survival.
The James Ryan Shop has aesthetic value as a vernacular architectural form now found only in scattered locations throughout the province. It is a rare and good example of the shape and style of mercantile buildings in Newfoundland. A two-and-a-half storey 19th century mercantile structure with a sharp peak gable roof, the James Ryan Shop is typical of commercial buildings on the northeast coast of Newfoundland and the trademark style of the James Ryan Ltd. firm. The interior of the building is original, retaining all furnishings and structures that reflect its use as a mercantile store.
The James Ryan Shop has social value 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 business district of town and was an active meeting place when in operation. For the local fish dealers, James Ryan Shop provided and outlet for them to unload their fish, making Elliston a prosperous community.
Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador property file “Elliston - James Ryan Shop – FPT 293”
Character Defining Elements
All original features representative of late 19th and early 20th century mercantile design, including:
-original windows and window placement;
-storefront picture windows;
-original wooden doors and door placement;
-mid-pitched gable roof;
-wide corner boards;
-wooden roof shingles;
-raincaps over windows;
-massing, orientation, dimensions.
All those existing interior features that reflect the commercial nature of the building, including:
-"JAMES RYAN LTD." sign on gable end;
-streetside location; and,
-any remaining original furnishings.
Location and History