Every Friday I will be traveling to a different historic site or interesting place for historians (and the general public) to visit. First on my list had to be Annandale National Historic Site in Tillsonburg, Ontario where I have had the pleasure of working for the past three summers.
So what’s the story here? Annandale National Historic Site or Annandale House as it’s called by the locals is a historic home built between 1880 and 1883 by E.D. and Mary Anne Tillson (you guessed it, their family founded Tillsonburg!). This home was their retirement home as well as E.D.’s model farm which was so modern for the time it was built in that people from all over North America came to see it. There was a huge barn out back with different floors for different animals, four silos (silos were in their infancy in Germany) and a heating system for the cows! This was quite the site as most people were living in one-room log cabins that didn’t even have heat or electricity. The house itself was built and decorated after the Aesthetic Art Movement which was popularized by poet and playwright Oscar Wilde. This style is very detailed meaning everywhere you look there is something beautiful, ornate and interesting to look at. Unfortunately photography is not allowed within the museum itself but you can take a look at the virtual tour here and see what I mean: http://www.annandale.rapidtour.ca/
E.D. (which stands for Edwin Delevan if you’re wondering) was obviously wealthy but it wasn’t all family money. He owned just about every business you can imagine in Tillsonburg including a brick mill, barley mill, piggery (also known as the palace), a flour mill and much more. In fact his most famous endeavor was his rolled oats business- maybe I’ll have to write a blog about that!
In the 1980s Annandale House was saved from being bulldozed by a dedicated group of volunteers who raised money to keep the building, have it designated and create a museum addition. Today many of these same volunteers still help out at the museum and let me tell you they are one amazing and active bunch! The museum is owned and operated by the Town of Tillsonburg now but it wouldn’t run without these loyal members who run everything from group tours and lunch n’ learn lectures to the beautiful gardens.
If you’re interested in visiting the museum I wouldn’t think twice! It’s a beautiful home to visit and has been preserved quite well. It also serves as the tourism office for Tillsonburg. A very good time of year to go is Christmas when each room is decorated by a different group of volunteers who pick whatever style they like. I’ve seen everything from traditional Victorian Christmas to an Alice in Wonderland room!
For information on upcoming exhibits and museum hours please visit http://www.tillsonburg.ca/Visitors/AnnandaleHouse.aspx
Thanks for reading!