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Robert Tilley House Municipal Heritage Building

Elliston, Newfoundland and Labrador, A0C, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2007/04/10

Photo view towards front gable end and right side of Robert Tilley House, Elliston, NL, 2007/03/26; L Maynard, HFNL, 2007
Robert Tilley House, Elliston, NL, 2007
Photo view of Robert Tilley House (showing front gable end and right side) and environs, Elliston, NL, 2007/03/26; L Maynard, HFNL, 2007
Robert Tilley House, Elliston, NL, 2007
Exterior photo view of Robert Tilley House showing front, Elliston, NL, 2007/06/16; L Maynard, HFNL 2007
Robert Tilley House, Elliston, NL, 2007

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1858/01/01 to 1860/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/06/04

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Robert Tilley House in Elliston, Trinity Bay is a three-storey, white painted, wooden structure with a steeply pitched gable roof. It is located at 11-15 Pier Road, near the water, and served for 50 years as a merchant shop. This municipal heritage designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

Robert Tilley House is designated for its historic, architectural and environmental values.

Robert Tilley House was built in 1858 and is one of the oldest standing structures in Elliston. It also has historic value given its association with three historically prominent merchant firms, and 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 is architecturally valuable 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 than 150 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 is also architecturally valuable 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.

Environmentally, the Tilley House 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.



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



Allan Ryder

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Town of Elliston, PO Box 115, Elliston, NL, A0C 1N0

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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