O’Reilly House Museum is up and running again for another summer season.
Located at 48 Orcan Drive in Placentia, the hours of operation this summer are from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and again in the afternoon from 1:30 to 6 p.m., each Monday to Friday. Admission price is still quite reasonable for a tour of the building. Cost is $2 for ages 14 and up and $1 for 6 to 13 year olds and free for those under six years of age. Staff for the summer includes event co-ordinator Bradley Budden, and guides, Grant Payne, Jason Murphy and Brittany Young.
It’s been a busy year for the Placentia Area Historical Society (PAHS), which operates the museum, said president Tom O’Keefe.
“The O’Reilly House has a new fence and new walkway,” noted O’Keefe. “During the winter some parts of the fence had fallen down because of rotten posts and other weak timbers. The Placentia Area Development Association (PADA) came to the rescue of PAHS by including the museum in a Job Creation Partnership (JCP) that helped provide labour and some materials to build a new fence.”
Funded by government, the Job Creation Partnerships provide eligible individuals with work experience, O’Keefe explained.
“The JCP project that did the museum fence has also continued improvements started last year on the Mount Carmel cemetery in Placentia. Both sites are considered important heritage sites and deserving of such assistance,” he said. “A new walkway has also been constructed at the museum with assistance from Hynes Construction.”
O’Reilly House Museum is over 100 years old. Originally called “Brefery House,” this Balustrade Queen Anne Victorian house was built in 1902 by W. J. Ellis for the William O’Reilly family of Placentia. O’Reilly himself was the magistrate in Placentia from 1897 to 1923, and following his tenure, the house served as home to the subsequent magistrates of Placentia until the 1970’s.
“Collectively, the features of O’Reilly House Museum convey the time when this home was built, in addition to a fragment of life led by those who lived and worked within its walls,” according to the Society’s website. “O’Reilly House captures the trappings of life and the wealth of its owners, either through the stained glass that decorates the entrance on the ground floor, or the finely detained and intricately hand-trowelled mouldings in the parlour, the house imparts this richness.”
The website notes that with two ground floor rooms with fireplaces, and more on the top floor, these details are attributes of the wealth and status of William O’Reilly, whereas in most other homes of that era, heating simply came from the oven, located in the kitchens.
O’Reilly House contains artifacts from down the ages of Placentia, including Basque headstones, period furniture, gifts from royalty, displays on resettlement and much more. Its artifacts and information include history related to the Basque, the French, English, Irish and American peoples association with this area, along with more modern items including models of the former cottage hospital in Placentia and the former railway station in Jerseyside, both painstakingly constructed by resident Bernard Penney.
PAHS is always interested to hear of old artifacts in the community that people may want to donate or loan to the museum. Recently Leo and Linda Miller donated an old stand-up and wind-up phonograph that was bought in Halifax in the early 1940s and was passed on to them. They also donated an old spyglass that had originally come from Argentia where it had been used before the time of the U.S. Base.
PAHS also hosts a number of events throughout the summer months, including the Speaker Series ongoing throughout the year, an Afternoon Tea and presentation of Heritage Awards on Aug. 12.
For more information about PAHS, O’Reilly House or any events this year, please visit the historical society’s website at www.placentiahistory.ca.