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O'Reilly House Municipal Heritage Building

Placentia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2006/08/19

Black and white photo of the interior staircase, O'Reilly House, Placentia.  Photo taken 1999.; HFNL/ 2006
Staircase, O'Reilly House
Detailed photo of O'Reilly House decorative brackets and large shelf located over front door.  Photo taken during restoration.; HFNL/ 2006
Detail, O'Reilly House
Photo of front facade of O'Reilly House taken during Doors Open 2004.; HFNL/ 2006
O'Reilly House, Placentia, NL

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2006/11/08

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The O’Reilly House is a two storey, wooden, Victorian bracketed house located at 48 Orcan Drive in Placentia. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The O’Reilly House was designated a Municipal Heritage Building because it has aesthetic and historic values.

The O’Reilly House has aesthetic value because it is a good example of a Victorian house constructed in the Bracketed style. Designed by St. John’s architect W. J. Ellis (Commercial Chambers Building, Water Street), the house has many decorative details that make it stand out as the upper class residence of the Placentia magistrate. Features such as the large, double bay windows, dentil mouldings, eaves brackets, stained glass windows and the entablature above the front door attest to the significance of the resident magistrate. Very fine, handcrafted details such as the mouldings and staircase may be seen inside the house. The O’Reilly House received the Southcott Award in 1989 in recognition of the preservation of the house.

The O’Reilly House has historic value because it was occupied by Placentia magistrates from 1902 to 1984. William O’Reilly was the original owner and it was he who built and owned the house in 1902, and which was later taken over by the government, thereafter to be used as a magistrate’s residence. He held the post of magistrate in Placentia from 1897 until 1923, having taken over the post from his father, Thomas, who died in 1897. It was also Magistrate O’Reilly who oversaw the construction of the present courthouse in Placentia. The O’Reilly House was the center of many formal government, religious and royal events as the magistrate was expected to entertain and host important visitors. Other noteworthy magistrates to have lived in the house were Michael Sinnott (1871-1965) and William Linegar . Magistrate Sinnott was a Placentia man, a president of the Star of the Sea Association, and a founding member of the Ancient Capital Historical Society formed in 1937. Magistrate Linegar acted for the Commission Government of Newfoundland and retired in 1972. Linegar and his family lived in the house for more than 40 years, until 1984, and in 1989 the house was established as a museum by the Placentia Area Historical Society.

Source: Town of Placentia regular council meeting, August 19, 2006.

Character-Defining Elements

All those elements that define the building's Victorian Bracketed design including:
-double bay windows with pediment;
-stained glass windows;
-narrow wooden clapboard;
-dentil mouldings;
-eaves brackets;
-original interior features;
-orientation, location and dimensions; and,
-general massing of structure.



Newfoundland and Labrador

Recognition Authority

NL Municipality

Recognition Statute

Municipalities Act

Recognition Type

Municipal Heritage Building, Structure or Land

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design

Function - Category and Type



Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer

W.J. Ellis



Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, PO Box 5171, St. John's, NL, A1C 5V5

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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