Description of Historic Place
The building at 30 Tillson Avenue, known as Annandale House, is situated at the intersection of Hyman Street and Tillson Avenue in the Town of Tillsonburg. The three storey, buff brick building was designed in the Queen Anne style, with incorporated Gothic elements by architect William M. Woollett. It was constructed between 1880 and 1883.
The exterior and elements of the interior are protected by an Ontario Heritage Trust conservation easement. The property was designated a National Historic Site in 1998, and is also designated by the Town of Tillsonburg under Part IV of the Ontario Heritage Act (By-law 2258).
Annandale House is associated with successful businessman E. D. Tillson and his father, the founder of Tillsonburg, George Tillson. The Tillson family made great contributions to the development of the town. In 1825, George Tillson built his home on the banks of the Otter Creek valley in what would later become Tillsonburg. His son successfully developed sawmills and factories, and brought three railways to the community. When the town was incorporated in 1872, E. D. Tillson became the first Mayor, establishing water, fire protection, and urban planning in Tillsonburg. E. D. Tillson's home was completed in 1883 on the 600 acre, model farm he called Annandale, a name which the house still bears today. Annandale was nearly entirely copied from a Victorian pattern book, reflecting the significance these books had on Canadian architecture in this period. The interior ceilings were designed by James Walthew between 1885 and 1887 using the principles of the Aesthetic Movement, a style popularized by Oscar Wilde. After Tillson's death in 1902, the house remained home to his wife, until her death in 1911. Dr. Charles Van Dyke Corless purchased the house in 1928, renovating and renaming it Coniston Place, to celebrate his own mining success in Sudbury. The house was passed on to his daughter in 1954, and in 1981, a group of citizens known as the Annandale House Fundraising Committee saved the home from possible demolition. In 1982, the group with the assistance of the Town of Tillsonburg purchased the home for use as a museum. A modern two storey museum wing was added to the rear of the house in 1989.
Annandale House is an example of the Queen Anne architectural style with an application of Aesthetic Movement principles. Constructed of buff brick, the design largely follows the “Brick Villa No. 2” design found in William Woollett's house pattern book “Villa's and Cottages: or Homes for All”. An octagonal tower capped with small vertical gables and a wide bay and gable mark the corners of the building. Two elaborate gabled porches cover the two main entrances and are made up of verge boards, brackets, moulding bands, spindles, and horizontal grills. Decorative verge boards and brackets are found on the eaves and dormer of the truncated hip mansard roof, which is covered in polychromatic slate shingles and punctuated with four corbelled chimneys and finished with cast iron cresting and finials. There is horizontal banding above and below the one-over-one sash windows, surrounded by brick voussoirs. The foundation is made of rough faced ashlar with drafted margins. The pointed gables and arched lancet windows on the third floor add verticality and gothic elements into the building. The house is a centre-hall plan, with a parlour, library, dining room, breakfast room, and kitchen. The interior decoration utilizes Aesthetic Movement ideas, including brightly painted ceilings finished with plaster cornices and central medallions. The interior wood trim is made up of black walnut, black cherry, oak, maple, and ash. The doors are fitted with hand-painted glass in the upper panels. The house is also accented by parquet floors, wood carvings, decorative metalwork, and Eastlake-inspired chimney mantels. These features have largely remained intact.
Located at the corner of Tillson Avenue and Hyman Street, Annandale House once occupied a commanding position in the community from which one could look across the town to the concentration of E. D. Tillson's mills and factories in the Otter Creek valley. Below the house is Lake Lisgar, created by Tillson's own Imperial Dam. Annandale is set back from the road in a park-like setting that defines the property, and contains several mature trees. A carriage house still remains on the property. The house now sits in a 1960s residential subdivision, which was once Tillson's 600-acre model farm.
Sources: OHT Easement; Town of Tillsonburg Municipal By-law 2258.
Character defining elements that contribute to the heritage value of the Annandale House include its:
- elements and footprint as represented in a period Victorian pattern book: “Brick Villa No. 2” in William Woollett's house pattern book “Villa's and Cottages: or Homes for All”
- Queen Anne and Gothic style elements
- buff brick construction
- band course with dentils
- banding above the one-over-one sash windows, with brick voussoirs
- octagonal tower with five gables
- cast iron cresting and finials
- gabled porches decorated with verge boards, brackets, moulding bands, spindles, and a horizontal grill
- verge boards and brackets on the gables
- truncated hip mansard roof covered in polychromatic slate shingles and finished with cast iron cresting and finials
- lancet windows on the third story
- four buff brick corbelled chimneys
- rough faced limestone ashlar foundation with draft margins
- elements of the Aesthetic Movement principles
- black walnut, black cherry, and ash wood trim
- hand painted glass set in the doors
- ceiling cornices
- colourful, painted ceilings with central rosettes
- Eastlake fireplace mantles
- parquet wood floors
- decorative metalwork
- location above the valley where E.D. Tillson's factories were located
- proximity to Otter Creek river valley (formerly Lake Joseph)
- rear carriage house
- proximity to the lands surrounding the house that are the remnants of the former Annandale Farm
- park-like setting and setback from the road with numerous mature trees