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Ryer-Davis House

Shelburne, Nova Scotia, B0T, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1987/07/16

Front elevation, Ryer-Davis House, Shelburne, Nova Scotia, 2005.
; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2005.
Front elevation, Ryer-Davis House
West elevation, Ryer-Davis House, Shelburne, Nova Scotia, 2005.

; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2005.
West elevation, Ryer-Davis House
View of Shelburne Harbour from the Ryer-Davis House, Shelburne, Nova Scotia, 2005.
; Heritage Division, NS Dept. of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, 2005.
View of Shelburne Harbour from Ryer-Davis House

Other Name(s)


Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1784/01/01 to 1784/12/31

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/06/11

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Ryer-Davis House was built in 1784 for Loyalist Joseph Bell and his family. This one-and-a-half storey Dutch Colonial style house with a gambrel roof is located near the head of the northwest arm of the Shelburne Harbour. Municipal designation applies to the house and the surrounding property.

Heritage Value

The Ryer-Davis House is valued for its age, architecture and historical associations with the Loyalists.

The Ryer-Davis House was built in 1784 for Joseph Bell, a tanner, shoemaker and native of England who came to Shelburne in 1783 to escape the American Revolution. He was given command of a company of Loyalist refugees and relocated with them and his family and one servant to Shelburne, then known as Port Roseway. He lived there until 1790 when the house was sold to local merchant Valentine Nutter. It later passed to shipwright James and his wife Jennet (Cameron) Ryer in 1851. It remained in the Ryer family until 1914 when it was sold to lumberman Arnold C. Davis. It then remained in the Davis family for many years.

While the interior of the house has gone through many changes, the original framing, roof line, portions of the foundation and the rounded staircase remain. Other historic elements, such as the fine work around the windows and doors, also remain. The gambrel roof section of the house was probably built first and the gable section was added circa 1789. Recently a sympathetic restoration of the house was undertaken that returned some missing original elements, including eave returns and wooden six-over-six windows.

The Ryer-Davis House is one of the oldest in Shelburne and stands as a reminder of Shelburne’s Loyalist history.

Source: Town of Shelburne, Heritage Property files, no. 10, Shelburne, Nova Scotia.

Character-Defining Elements

Character-defining elements of the Ryer-Davis House include:

- one consistent roofline visible from front elevation;
- one-and-one half storeys;
- rear and side elevations showing gambrel and gable roof lines;
- all original and historic interior elements including trim, floors, fireplaces and stairwell;
- partial original foundation;
- remains of original beehive oven;
- original roof sheathing with Roman numerals;
- asymmetrical front façade;
- six-over-six wooden windows;
- location within the original township of Shelburne.



Nova Scotia

Recognition Authority

Local Governments (NS)

Recognition Statute

Heritage Property Act

Recognition Type

Municipally Registered Property

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design
Peopling the Land

Function - Category and Type


Single Dwelling


Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Town of Shelburne Office, Water Street, PO Box 670, Shelburne, NS, B0T 1W0.

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




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