Home / Accueil

Robert Tilley House

Elliston, Newfoundland and Labrador, A0C, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1985/12/02

Exterior photo of Tilley House, Elliston, NL.  Taken summer 2004.; HFNL 2004.
Tilley House, Elliston, NL.
Exterior photo of Tilley House, Elliston, NL.; HFNL 2005.
Tilley House, Elliston, NL.
Exterior photo of Tilley House, Elliston, NL, circa 1995.; HFNL 2005.
Tilley House, Elliston, NL.

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1858/01/01 to 1860/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/10/06

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Built in 1858, the Tilley House in Elliston, Trinity Bay is a three-storey, wooden structure with a steeply pitched gable roof. Located near the water, the Tilley House is one of the cornerstones of the community of Elliston where it served for 50 years as a merchant shop. This designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Tilley House is designated as a Registered Heritage District for its historic, architectural, cultural, and environmental values.

Built in 1858, the Tilley House remains one of the oldest standing structures in Elliston. Tilley House is valuable for its association with prominent 19th merchant planter, Robert Tilley and his son Arthur Tilley. The Tilley family moved to Elliston (formerly Bird Island Cove) in the 1850s and established a merchant shop by commissioning Allan Ryder of Bonavista to build the Tilley House. Robert Tilley operated a highly successful merchant business out of the shop until his death in 1872 when his son Arthur took over the family business until the 1890s. During this period, the Tilleys had an important influence on the activities of Elliston including politics, infrastructure and education. After the Tilley’s merchant business closed the shop was rented to two Bonavista firms, James Ryan Limited and Phillip Templeman Limited while they were setting up firms in Elliston. The Tilley House is a testament to the success of the merchant business and the Tilley family in Elliston.

The Tilley House is architecturally valuable because it is a good representation of 19th century vernacular architecture. A three storey mortise and tenon structure built of heavy woods such as pine and hemlock, the Tilley House has withstood over 150 years of weathering and is a testament to the quality of materials and craftsmanship during this period.

The Tilley House is also architecturally valuable for its association with Bonavista builder, Allan Ryder. Ryder also built a number of other buildings in the Bonavista region including St. Mary’s Anglican Church in Elliston which was partially paid for by the Tilley family.

Culturally, the Tilley House is the last remaining relic in Elliston that stands as a testament to the merchant way of life. Furthermore, it is provincially significant as a representation of the 19th century merchant/planter lifestyle. The only surviving relic from the community of Bird Island Cove, Elliston has been built around the Tilley House and is has been the centre of the community for a very long time.

The Tilley House is an important landmark in the community of Elliston. Located near the shore, the Tilley House serves not only as an important part of Elliston’s cultural landscape but traditionally inshore fishermen used it as a landmark for finding their fishing grounds.

Source: Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador unnumbered property file: Elliston-Tilley House.

Character-Defining Elements

All elements that define the building's 19th century vernacular design including:
-steep gable roofline;
-mortise and tenon construction;
-type of wood (pine, hemlock);
-raincaps on windows;
-returned eaves;
-double hung windows;
-window position;
-dimensions, height and massing; and,
-narrow clapboard.

Elements that define the building as a landmark including:
-location in community; and,
-visibility from the harbour.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Statute

Historic Resources Act

Recognition Type

Registered Heritage Structure

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Developing Economies
Trade and Commerce

Function - Category and Type


Single Dwelling


Architect / Designer



Allan Ryder

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, 1 Springdale Street, P.O. Box 5171, St. John's, NL, A1C 5V5

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places



Advanced SearchAdvanced Search
Nearby Places