Located at 48 Orcan Drive, the O’Reilly House Museum was restored by the Placentia Area Historical Society and opened to the public in 1989. It was subsequently designated a Registered Heritage Structure on the 24th April, 1999 by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador.
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. William O’Reilly was the Magistrate from 1897 to 1923. After he completed his tenure, the O’Reilly House served as home to the Magistrates of Placentia until the 1970s.
The O’Reilly House Museum captures the trappings of life and the wealth of the owners. Whether it is the stained glass that decorates the entrance on the ground floor, the finely detailed and intricately hand-trowelled mouldings in the parlour or the dental detail notched into the main staircase, the house imparts this richness.
On the ground floor, the parlour and dining room also offer a taste of the life enjoyed by William O’Reilly and his family. Both rooms contain fireplaces, an attribute of the wealth and status of Magistrate O’Reilly. Similarly, the master bedroom and some of the other rooms on the top floor contain fireplaces. In less affluent homes, heating by virtue of the oven was restricted to the kitchen, often the warmest room in the house.
In this light, towards the rear of the house on the ground floor, a part of daily life is reflected in the kitchen and pantry. In these rooms, the food and meals that eventually decorated the dining room table were prepared. A narrow and unadorned stairway connects the kitchen to the maid’s quarters on the top floor. Its plainness typifies an aspect of life that did not require the embellishment characteristic in the other parts of the home.
Collectively, the features of the O’Reilly House Museum convey the time when this home was built, in addition to a fragment of the life led by those who lived and worked within its walls.