Annandale National Historic Site

A house inspired by Oscar Wilde

Annandale House was built in the 1880s by Edwin Delevan Tillson, the first mayor of Tillsonburg and son of the town's founder, George Tillson.

It was named a National Historic Site in 1997 and is considered one of the best surviving examples of the Aesthetic Art Movement in Canada.


Learn more about Annandale House

annandale house when it was built

History of the House

Architectural details

History of the Home

Annandale House was the retirement home of Tillsonburg's first mayor, E.D. Tillson, and was the centrepiece of a 600-acre model farm called Annandale Farm.

In 1882, Tillson and his wife Mary Ann attended Oscar Wilde's "The House Beautiful" lecture in Woodstock, Ontario and applied much of what they heard about the Aesthetic Art Style, when decorating their new home.

  • Built in the 1880s at a cost of $30,000
  • Designed in the Queen Anne style, with incorporated Gothic elements
  • Largely follows "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 on the eaves and dormer
  • Truncated hip mansard roof covered in slate shingles
  • Four corbelled chimneys
  • Cast iron cresting and finials
  • Hand-painted glass in the upper panels of interior doors
  • Interior wood trim is made up of black walnut, black cherry, oak, maple, and ash
  • Eastlake-inspired chimney mantels
  • Utilized the latest technology when it was built including steam heat and gas lighting
  • Interior décor inspired by the "aesthetic art movement" made popular by Oscar Wilde
  • Interior ceilings were designed by James Walthew between 1885 and 1887

First Floor

  • Period-furnished rooms include the parlour, the library, the dining room, the main hall, the breakfast room and the kitchen.

Second Floor

  • Two period-furnished bedrooms and assorted local history displays, including the Military Gallery. 

Third Floor (currently closed for renovations)

  • Restored maid's quarters, the Tillson Family History Gallery and the James Wilson Education Gallery

Annandale House was sold in 1911 following death of Mrs. Mary Ann Tillson. In 1928, the home was renamed Coniston Place by new owner, Dr. Charles Van Dyke Corless

In 1954, the house was passed on to Corless' daughter, Florence Burn.

In 1981, Annandale House was facing possible demolition. A group of concerned citizens began a fundraising campaign to purchase and restore the home. Remarkably, the group did not ask for any local tax dollars to achieve their vision. Instead, they asked the municipality to cover the ongoing operational costs. The Town agreed, and the group moved forward with its plan.

  • More than $1.3 million in community donations has been spent on restoration and preservation efforts
  • A modern two storey museum wing was added to the rear of the house in 1989. has been added to the home containing the community museum, as well as space for programs and exhibits
  • In 1997, Annandale House was designated a National Historic Site. Its interior has been recognized as the best surviving example of the Aesthetic Art Movement in Canada by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board.

The Tillson Family

George Tillson and his family were the founders of Tillsonburg. They came to the area from Enfield, Massachusetts, and like most settlers, came to the area seeking better opportunities for their family. 

In 1822, they settled near Normandale, and established a furnace works. During a journey inland in 1824, George discovered an area that would one day bear his name.

George's son, Edwin Delevan Tillson became the town's first mayor and chief industrialist.

E.D. Tillson
E.D. Tillson
Mary Ann Tillson
Mary Ann Tillson

Annandale National Historic Site

  • 9:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m. Monday to Friday
  • Closed Saturdays
  • 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Sundays
  • See Social Media for Details Holidays
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